Heidi Ayarbe has been generous enough to stop by for both an interview and provide a giveaway for her first novel, Freeze Frame, and her most recent, gut wrenching but compelling read, Compromised. You can check out my review of Compromised here but I highly recommend this book. Check out contest details below the interview, centering around Compromised.
If faced with Maya's situation, do you think you'd take the route she did or try to stick it out in the system, hoping for the best?
I like security, knowing where things are going to be and how they're going to be done (like Maya). But so much so I think I'd have stuck it out in the system. I would've searched for Aunt Sarah from Foster Homes, making sure I had a cushion to fall back on.
What kind of research did you do to understand life on the streets and everything Maya and Nicole faced?
I have friends who work for CASA (The Court Appointed Special Advocate Association) and another who worked in a home much like Kids Place. They gave me lots of the logistical framework. Then I spent a lot of time on forums in which homeless kids and parents looking for their kids chat. I was not an active participant, as I think the forums are personal and deal with an incredibly private part of peoples' lives. And, unfortunately, in Colombia, we are surrounded by homelessness. A friend of mine works as a psychologist at a foundation for high risk children and adolescents and brings home horrifying stories. All of these resources helped me come up with a better understanding of homelessness and all that homelessness entails: exploitation, abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, hunger ... the list goes on and on.
Did you know the final outcome before you started writing or did it change as the story progressed?
I changed the ending about seven times which was way different from my first novel. I always knew how FREEZE FRAME could end. But with this story, I couldn't figure out how things would turn out, and I didn't want it to be contrived or forced. Many people ask me what happens to Cappy, and I say I know what I want to happen to her, but I'm not sure what I hope is what's realistic. That's why I made the ending the way I did -- so each reader could decide. That's what makes this kind of story hard to end, and write. Because to be true to the situation and characters, I had to do a very non-Nicholas Sparks deal.
Of the three main characters, which one was the most challenging to write?
Maya, actually. Her character is a lot more subtle than Nicole and Klon, and she could come off as pretentious and pretty icy at times, which I didn't want. I wanted her to be vulnerable and accessible, too, while creating a character who was determined not to compromise her set of rules. It was hard to keep her the most consistent.
What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?
Anything anybody will ever need to know about me are in the pages of my books. Writers leave soul imprints in their work, so if you've read my novel, I'm blushing! :-) You already know too much.
If you could step into someone else's shoes for a day, who's life would you like to experience?
Wow ... Anybody who doesn't wear high heels. OK. Let's get real here. I'm drawing a blank. I don't think I'd want anybody else's life ... not even for a day. But the great thing about being a writer is, in a way, we get to do that through characters we want to explore. So in a way, that's my job -- stepping into many others' shoes for as many pages I need to get the job done.
What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?
I'd LOVE to say double chocolate fudge with macadamia nut but, let's get real, that's what I'd love to eat. That's a DIVA cookie. I think I'm more of a peanut butter cookie -- reliable, yummy, a taste of home and nothing too exotic.
Thank you again for the interview, Heidi. To enter for your chance to win a signed copy of either Freeze Frame or Compromised, fill out this form.
There will be two winners- one for each book. US/Canada only. Contest ends August 1 at 6 CST.