Welcome to the very first Author Wednesday on Writing Whims. I am very pleased to introduce Rachelle Ayala, author of Michal’s Window, Broken Build, and her latest release, Hidden Under Her Heart. Rachelle was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book and about herself as a writer and a person.
Good morning, Rachelle, and welcome to Writing Whims. Please tell me about Hidden Under Her Heart. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
Hidden Under Her Heart is a heartfelt novel written to examine abortion, post-abortion guilt, and the unborn baby’s right to life. I was inspired by my friend, Melisa Hamling, who is the author of Twenty Weeks, another story dealing with abortion. Matt Patterson, author of My Emily, provided encouragement for me to look into my own experiences to shape and craft this story into an uplifting one with a happy ending.
What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?
I love dramatic fiction with heavy emotional overtones centered around women coping with big problems in their lives. My favorite authors are Anne Rivers Siddons, Melissa Foster, and Mary M. Forbes. Their books take you into the harrowing lives of women facing huge challenges with unexpected twists and heartrending emotions. I like to be surprised and not see things coming a mile away or feel like the author is steering me in a particular direction. So the problems have to be gigantic, the characters mucho flawed, and the dilemmas in conflict with horrid villains.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
My stories reflect me, and not some vague genre-specific market segment. I’m a born-again Christian after age forty; I lived in a rough neighborhood growing up; I spent a lifetime in computers and the tech industry; I don’t have the cleanest vocabulary, but I read my Bible from cover to cover; and I have a vivid imagination. My books include characters who are Christian as well as ones who are not, but the overall message is uplifting and someone gets saved in each of my books. Ironically, the worst criticism comes from Christians. All they see are the cuss words and sex and not the theme about brokenness, redemption, healing, changing lives, and finding God.
My biggest compliments come from readers who write me and tell me how my book impacted them, even if it was to keep them from sleeping. Michal’s Window got people to empathize with a strong woman who was suppressed by her time in history. Broken Build deals with grief over violent crimes and shows the power of forgiveness.
Since I published Hidden Under Her Heart, many have shared with me their personal stories, or those of their friends and relatives. My story is compassionate and shows how people who are burdened under layers of guilt can find peace.
Have I changed anything? I’d be lying to say I haven’t. Hidden Under Her Heart has no overt sex scene. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but it is safe for mature teens. It also has no Bible verses, the other objection from Christian readers who did not like Bible verses next to cuss words. Oh, and my main character does not cuss, not that I can remember.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Dark chocolate: Lindor extra dark truffles, Guittard’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, Lady Godiva’s. Anyone want to send me some, I’ll be your best friend.
I didn’t realize chocolate was a vice, especially dark chocolate! We all have our little things when it comes to reading, is there anything that bugs you when you read a novel? What is it?
The number one thing that bugs me is author manipulation. I can tell if an author tries too hard to get me to like a character. Everyone praises that character, says how good looking she is, how sensible, how wise. The character also has a high fallutin’ sense of her own that adds to the misery. I hate lame stories where the male hero is too perfect, or only has one tiny flaw, which is minor. And mostly, I don’t like it when the story lacks conflict, glosses over detail, and explains away complications. Even worse is when I identify with the character we are all supposed to hate. Ha, then, I start wishing bad things would happen to the supposed good character and am ultimately disappointed when the story ends.
Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason?
Hidden Under Her Heart is dedicated to my son, Ross, who was born at 26 weeks gestational age and lived three weeks in the NICU. I have an important message in my book about the sanctity of life, no matter how small or maimed, and I wanted to give Ross’s short life meaning. He would have been a senior in high school this year and applying to college. This is my way of sending him into the world, on the wings of my book.
That’s lovely, Rachelle. I’m sure he’s flying safely. Is there anything else that you would like to share or say to those who will read this interview?
First of all, thank you for reading this far! And mostly, be yourself and accept yourself the way God made you. I truly enjoy hearing from readers and hope my stories inspire you and make you feel good about yourself. God bless you, and thank you, Patricia, for letting me visit with your readers.
You’re very welcome, Rachelle. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you a little better.
About Rachelle Ayala writes dramatic fiction crossing genres and boundaries, featuring strong but flawed characters. She writes emotionally challenging stories and is not afraid of controversial topics. However, she is an optimist and laces her stories with romance and hope.
Rachelle is currently working on a romantic suspense that touches on disability. 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.