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Author Interview - Heidi Ayarbe + Giveaway

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Today, I'm excited to be interviewing with Heidi Ayarbe, whose latest release Wanted came out in May! You can read my review here.

Book Synopsis
A one-word text message: That's all Michal "Mike" Garcia needs to gather a crowd. Mike is a seventeen-year-old bookie, and Sanctuary is where she takes bets for anyone at Carson High with enough cash. Her only rule: Never participate, never place a bet for herself.

Then Josh Ellison moves to town. He pushes Mike to live her life, to feel a rush of something -- play the game, he urgest, stop being a spectator.

So Mike breaks her one rule. She places a bet, feels the rush. And loses.

In an act of desperation, she and Josh -- who has a sordid past of his own -- concoct a plan: The pair will steal from Carson City's elite to pay back Mike's debt. Then they'll give the rest of their haul to those who need it most. How can burglary be wrong if they are making things right?

Author Bio
Heidi Ayarbe is the award winning author of YA novels Freeze Frame, Compromised, Compulsion, and Wanted. She grew up wanting to be a veterinarian/pilot so she could fly in her bi-plane to everybody’s farm and cure sick cows. Yes. Just cows. She also wanted to marry a Labrador retriever. Apparently there’s a law against a human marrying a Labrador retriever. Go figure. She was never told by anybody of literary authority she “should” be a writer, but stubborn by nature decided she “should.” With support of her family and people she loved, she gave it a shot. So now she is. (A writer. Not married to a Labrador retriever).

Your books tend to delve into the human psyche. Is there a particular reason why you're drawn to exploring it?
I think stories are interesting when you take “normal kids” (who’s normal, right?) and throw extraordinary circumstances at them to see how they’re going to work things out. I can’t imagine writing a story that didn’t deal with the human psyche. We’re all little worlds of our own, walking around with certainties and truths etched into our brains. But everybody’s truth is different, right? I like gray area – testing the boundaries of right and wrong. So the stories I write, I write for the characters. I love character-driven stories and creating characters I admire, dislike, like, and kind of wish I could be like. (Especially the rebellious characters. I was such a walk-the-line kid!)

Wanted is a complex novel that involves bookies, break ins, and robberies. What kind of research and preparation went into the writing of this novel?
This was a tough book to write. I had to research EVERYTHING. And though I’m from Nevada, I was totally unfamiliar with the world of online gambling. Luckily, though, I had help from friends who guided me through the muck, helped me place bets and after a bit I understood point spreads and odds. This would be a great book for math! And you’d be SURPRISED what you can find on E-How … I learned how to break into virtually every kind of lock. There’s also a slew of information about where people typically hide their money caches in their homes. I found interviews with incarcerated thieves and found a reality show where two guys go in and rob someone’s home, trashing it (robbing is never clean) and finding all their money. Most people got really pissed off about the robbery, but, at the end of the day, they agreed to it (who knows why?). It’s disturbingly simple to get the information you need to steal.

It is very disturbing what we can learn with a quick online search if we cared to try. Six-word phrases play a large role in Wanted. Do you have a six word phrase to represent the book?
Ack! This is tough. Those six-word phrases were hard to do in the novel, too. I wanted them to be relevant. I thought I was in the clear!! Ack!! Actually, it would’ve been cool to have a six-word summary like this for a flap copy. Damn. Okay:

Unconventional heroes. Best intentions. Disastrous results. (This is pretty bad!)
Modern-day western. Lines blurred, crossed. Regret. (Okay … this might be worse.)

You get the idea, right?

You did a wonderful job with the six-word phrases. Tough they may be, but very well done and worth the effort, I think. I loved them. If you could talk to someone in Wanted, who would it be and what would you say?
I like this question. A lot. Because I really love my characters and their strengths and flaws. At the end of the day, though, I think I’d have to talk to Mike. So much of her self worth is based on others’ perceptions of her … so typical of high school. I’d love to shake her up and tell her it gets better. She’ll find her place. She has so much beauty and intelligence. She matters – not because she’s a bookie or stealing from the rich and passing the money around. She matters because she’s Mike. That’s all I’d like to tell her. She matters.

That's something she and every other teenage girl (and boy) out there should know. Teenage me was always hiding at her desk with a book in front of her. Thus far, your books have been singles. Are you planning on starting a series one day, or do you prefer to write singles?
I suppose my books have been singles because I’ve felt like the stories I wrote had come to an end. The characters completed their arcs (yeah … that’s a little technical hullaballoo, but it’s actually true). This is one reason I HATE epilogues … HATE. It’s always nice to leave something open for the reader to decide. Typically, contemporary fiction doesn’t go into series. That’s more common for fantasy, paranormals, dystopians. That said, if my publisher said they wanted a second book, I’d write it. (No writer in her “right” mind turns down work!)

I noted on your site that you like books about mountaineering and you travel with your husband, hiking and backpacking and river rafting. Where are your favorite places to travel?
Pre-parenthood we traveled a ton. My favorite places have always been backpacking. Cities are wonderful, but there’s nothing as phenomenal as being outside. So, I suppose my top three places I’ve traveled have been: hiking to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas in Nepal, hiking Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia (including a day hiking the glaciers … phenomenal!), and the Galapagos Islands – hiking and snorkeling and scuba diving. I can’t wait to take my girls backpacking in the States when they’re older. I hope they travel one day. Travel has made all the difference in my life.

My dad used to go backpacking back in the day, and he's always telling my brother and me that we should go one day. Can you see yourself writing about a character who does so?
I think that I could definitely see myself creating a character that loves backpacking or dreams about travel. There's so much a writer could do with that. I suppose I might have steered clear from that thus far, though, because it might be too close to me.

As for placing a novel in one of those places, I'm not sure. I don't know WHY a teen would be traveling to these places unless there's a student exchange thing going on etc. It could be fascinating, though, creating a novel of two teens traveling, backpacking whatever ... and something could go horribly, horribly wrong. That's definitely been done, though ... What hasn't been done? Hmmm ... I guess I'm up in the air on this one.

It would be a toughie to write an original novel on the topic, but if done well it would be a good read. I love books with rural and foreign settings. What can readers expect next from you?
Right now I’m working on The Story of Us for Philomel. It’s release date is spring of 2014! It’s a very different kind of book for me – definitely a challenge – because it’s a mix between mystery, suspense and drama about a girl trying to remember what happened the night her family’s home burned down. She begins to investigate and things get complicated pretty fast.

That sounds exciting. This is going on my TBR list! Anything else you'd like to add?
If you love a book, talk about it, shout out about it, share it with friends and relatives. Ask your school and public library to get it. Write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (even bad reviews are better than none!) That’s the best way for you to keep your favorite authors writing. Thanks for having me and for the thoughtful questions. Also, good luck to everyone for the cool book giveaway.

Thanks for interviewing, Heidi! And, yes, there is a cool book giveaway. Heidi has offered to give away a signed copy of her novel Compulsion along with some neat swag!

One lucky US/Canada winner will receive a signed copy of Compulsion along with some neat swag. The giveaway is open through July 8th.

To enter, leave a meaningful comment on the interview. You can receive extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Wanted. Then fill out the form below. Do not include your email in the comments section.

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22 comments on "Author Interview - Heidi Ayarbe + Giveaway"
  1. Great interview!! Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. Six word phrases. My interest perks.

  3. I personally do not backpack but that makes it even better to read about!! I love to travel, though, so if you ever write a book about a backpacker traveling across Europe, I will definitely read it :)

  4. The premise of this book is really cool. It's kinda like a modern day Robin Hood, in a way. Great interview!

  5. I really want to read this book. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Sounds like an awesome book!! :)

  7. I've had this book on my TBR list for months now. Great interview and thank you for the giveaway!

  8. Great interview! This looks like a great story idea - someone doing the wrong thing for the right reason. I like Heidi's comment that she takes "normal" characters and puts them in extraordinary situations to see what happens. One thing that makes a book really good for me is interesting characters and I like that Heidi focuses on that goal for her books! Thanks for the info!

    1. Her books are amazing. You should check them out!

  9. I have really enjoyed the books that I've read so far from Ayarbe-intense exciting contemporaries that leave me very excited about the genre in general. I also love that the books are singles-I am a little overwhelmed with series.

    1. I love her books as well. Singles are a plus. Every time the next book comes out in a series, I have to reread the first book if I hope to remember what happened! Though there are series that I love to death and couldn't have imagined seeing wrapped up in a single book.

  10. Great interview! I agree with Heidi about putting kids in extraordinary circumstances and the concept of a "grey area". It seems like under certain circumstances, even the most "ordinary" of people can change drastically and do things they never imagined they could have done. Their "grey areas" and morals change too...

    Anyways, Compulsion sounds like a great book! I've always liked the idea of heists (Robin Hood, Tokyo Heist, Tower Heist, Heist Society, etc.) Thanks for the giveaway :D

  11. Excellent interview! This sounds like a very interesting book.

  12. Great review. I agree on the "grey areas". No one ever really knows what they will do until forced to do so- we can all speculate but until we are actually faced with something, no one knows for certain. The entire concept of the book makes me want to read it!

  13. It does sound like it was tough to write but that you learned a lot. Often people when under tough or special circumstances can come out of their shell or even hide into it.

  14. what a great interview. Thanks! Gale Nelson

  15. This book sounds really good and this one I am actually looking forward to reading. I love that it is sorta a Robin-hood kind of story , but in modern time. Thanks for the interview and giveaway....I will add this to my list to read.

  16. great interview! this is the first i've heard of this book, but it sounds like something i would love to read! definitely adding to my tbr list : )

  17. Interesting interview... I find it interesting that she only writes singles. That I like, I hate all the series books that seem to be the norm now..always having to keep waiting for the next one to come out to see what happens next.

    this book sounds great. thanks for the giveaway.

  18. I like character-driven stories, too. Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. OMG I really want to read this book EPPPP Oh man I hope I win :D

  20. I love Heidi's bio; I think it's really cute that she wanted to marry her dog. :)

    This sounds like an enjoyable read and the cover is quite striking. The book sounds like it will be full of action and I can't wait to read it. :)


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