Monday, October 22, 2012

Talking With Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala's book, Broken Build, was published in September by Amiga Books, and she's here today to tell us a little about it.

Book blurb:

Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man is killed in a hit-and-run at her work.

CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. What he doesn’t need is blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.

Hello, Rachelle, I’m happy to have you here today to talk about your work. You’ve published three books. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I daydream the big moments in advance so I know who the villain is and what the setup of the climax would be. Other than that, I write by the seat of my skirt (I don’t wear pants since I outgrew my jeans.) When I write, a movie is playing in my mind. I record everything, and oftentimes it goes with what the characters are thinking and feeling. They don’t necessarily tell me what to write, but if they won’t go a certain way and I’ve tried to nudge them that way a few times, I give up. If I keep dictating to them to do this or do that, they go on strike, and I get blocked, and no writer likes to get blocked.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

Names pop into my head. I don’t really give it much thought. I suppose it is free association. I try to keep the names very common so that no one can say it is about them, hence Jones, Walker, Williams, Cruz, Jewell, Mathews are used as surnames. I live in a multi-cultural environment so Indian, Spanish, and Chinese names pop into my mind frequently.

What would Jen, your main character, say about you?

She doesn’t like me very much. I’m too mean to her, expose all her secret fears and weaknesses and make her go through lots of trauma, physical and emotional. I gave her a broken man, one she broke with her past misdeeds, and had her fall in love with him while fearing he’d reject her when he finds out what she’d done.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

My female characters have tender hearts. They may have their own problems, but they’re all nurturers and melt at the sight of small children and baby animals. They tend to be impulsive in love like I am. This means I need to write a different character next time, but I find it tough to relate to a hard-as-nails independent woman with a chip on her shoulder. Perhaps that is why I never finished my book, Kyra’s Shield, about a woman who grew up as a man in ancient Philistia.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Well, gosh, this is hard. I have such hot male characters. There’s King David, Prince Ittai, Michal’s second husband, Phalti the scribe, CEO Dave Jewell and my latest sweetie, triathlete Lucas Knight.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

This one is from Broken Build. I loved to play pinball back in the 1980’s. There was a game called William’s Time Warp with yellow banana shaped paddles. I must have been in the zone one evening at UCLA. Usually, I’m pretty bad and my friend, Kathy Curry, would whip me, but that night, with Time Warp, I scored one high score after another. I didn’t even notice that everyone around me had stopped playing and that a crowd had gathered.

So I relived this pinball game in Dave’s garage at his Tahoe cabin. Only, he was playing with a hot female sitting on the table facing him. Uhmmm… my favorite scene was actually deleted. Instead, he tells her what he’d do to her on the table without actually doing it. My characters were both too emotionally damaged to go through with the hot scene I’d written.

What book are you currently reading?

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran, I’m fascinated by women who struggle through cataclysmic times to survive, gain love and reunite their family. The heroine in Scent of Triumph reminds me of my protagonist, Michal, in Michal’s Window who loses her husband, King David, to her father’s murderous rage, only to go on an epic journey to reunite with him, sidetracked by lovers and rivals, wartime destitution and queenly duties, death and sacrifice, but ultimate triumph.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I don’t expect every reader to like my writing, so it is fine if they criticize it. I generally absorb it to see if there is anything I can improve, but I do not struggle to change my vision to suit critics. For example, my first book, Michal’s Window, has too much sex for its genre. I have my fair share of one-star reviews to prove it. But I truly believe I could not have captured the depth of Michal’s obsessive love for David and the distraction by her lover if I did not include the scenes. And honestly, they were not that explicit. It’s just that the ordinary reader of Biblical fiction is not used to on-scene sex.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

I rarely get blocked, but as I said earlier, when I do, it’s because I’m not being true to myself—I’m trying to live up to someone else’s expectation of how my book should be structured. Here’s an example. My current WIP, Hidden Under Her Heart, is about abortion. In order to not offend any potential Christian readers, I decided that my two lovers would not have pre-marital sex. I’m writing along and get to the 2/3rds mark where they’re reunited after a long estrangement of 10 weeks. These two have talked it out, they’ve averted sex three times already, but they insist on escaping the party to go camping in a tent. At this point my readers are likely to be just as frustrated as my characters. The situation borders on unrealistic. So my characters simply went on strike until they got what they wanted. Of course, sex complicates their relationship, but hey, complications are good. And unbeknownst to them, the “Delete” key is always available.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel with abortion as the main topic. I read a post on the taboos of romance. [URL:] Abortion was mentioned as the #1 no-no. I’m an indie author, no one tells me what I can and cannot write about. As I started asking myself the “what-if’s” the story gelled. My main character, Maryanne Torres, is a nurse, not a pregnant teenager. I wanted her to be completely knowledgeable and responsible for her own choices. There will be obvious complications and a series of decisions to make. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I’m excited about the concept and hope it will make for an emotional story, no matter which side of the debate you are on. 

I'm sure it will. Thank you, Rachelle, for stopping by to chat about Broken Build. Good luck with it and your WIP. I hope you'll come back when it's published.

About Rachelle:
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment.

Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.

Follow Rachelle:


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