Welcome to Author Wednesday. I am so very excited to welcome back Rachelle Ayala, the very first author to participate in Author Wednesday in March 2013. Rachelle has just published her new novel, Knowing Vera. Rachelle is never afraid to tackle the big issues in her writing such as her novel released earlier this year, Hidden Under Her Heart. She writes dramatic fiction that crosses genres and boundaries, while featuring strong but flawed characters. Even though she writes emotionally challenging stories, she’s never afraid to address controversial topics. However, she is an optimist and laces her stories with romance and hope.
Welcome back, Rachelle. I’m pleased you dropped by for another visit. You are such a prolific author, I wondered when you first discovered your voice as a writer.
My voice comes from my passions. I’ve been told that my voice changes for each book I’ve written. If you take my first novel, Michal’s Window, and compare it to my latest novel, Knowing Vera, you might wonder if the same author wrote both books. I don’t intentionally seek a particular voice. Rather, the voice comes from the character I’m portraying. Michal, the first wife of King David, is a very different woman from Vera, a Filipina-American nurse. I’m not sure if I’ve discovered my voice or if I ever will, but I trust that each book I write will be uniquely mine.
I’ve read both Michal’s Window and Hidden Under Her Heart, and I would have to agree with your assessment of your voice within those novels. I look forward to discovering where your voice goes to in Knowing Vera. You have such a strong presence as an author.What is your vision of yourself as a writer?
My foremost goal is to take the reader on a shared emotional journey with me as my characters grow and become more true to themselves. I hope this character emotional development resonates with my readers and causes them to examine their lives and live up to their fullest potential. I believe stories are the means for people to connect with others and experience lives they have not lived. As a writer, I’m privileged to share my private dreams and visions with my readers. Reading and writing brings people together and fosters community in a way that gives us understanding of others and hopefully makes the world a better place.
You’ve stated that very eloquently. It’s the best thing we can do as writers. Describe your current projects.
My current project is a character-driven romance without any elements of suspense: no kidnappings, murders, fighting, car chases, and nefarious plots to take over the world. I set out to write this story to stretch my abilities as a writer. Can I keep the reader interested when no one is in danger? Can I move the plot without a villain pushing the buttons? Will two ordinary people fall in love without life threatening excitement? Of course, every story involves conflict and tension, and this story is about two people with opposing goals in life, an investment banking intern and a guitarist for a bluesy rock band. The story is set in Berkeley and provides the backdrop for both character transformations.
You always seem to be stretching yourself as a writer. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?
Someone asked me to describe my writing process, the steps I take to write a novel. When I actually sat down to draft it out, I discovered that each of my stories had their own independent set of events. I did not have a step-by-step process. One story came from filling out a character interview for an online class I was taking. Another one stalled about a third of the way through and had to be rewritten from scratch. My first one consisted of several different branches where I wrote each branch to completion and then selected the final version. Finally, there was the one I wrote straight through from page one to the end without looking back. The takeaway to all this is to stop worrying about process and engineering a story and just write. Storytelling is an art and having someone look over your shoulder with a stopwatch or word-count tracking stifles creativity. Write more and worry less. We’re all unique and our methods are unique, even between stories.
So very true, and it can be applied to all of life as well. Even though you experiment with technique, is there a common thread or theme in all your books?
All my books involve a heroine who is not living up to her potential. She is weighed down by self-doubt, negative emotions, or dissatisfaction with where she is in life. Sometimes she doesn’t really understand herself and what she wants or needs from life. She could be running from her problems or denying she needs to change, but the events of the story force her to face her flaws and she changes to embrace her own potential and believe in her dreams. The hero undergoes similar changes. He also has flaws and real issues and he’s not just a background prop. Even though they are initially attracted to each other, neither is able to truly love in a healthy manner until they’ve solved their problems. Love, acceptance, forgiveness, and being true to yourself are the common themes in each of my novels.
What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
The absolute best thing for me is when a reader is so immersed in my story world that they feel as if they were one of the characters. I’ve had many reviewers say that about each of my books. One said she had book hangover where she didn’t want to leave the story and was sad that it ended. Another said she was the character, living, eating, breathing, dreaming the story as if she were there. That is the state I’m in while writing my story and to think that readers can share that experience makes me very fulfilled as a writer.
Rachelle, it’s been a pleasure to host you once again on Author Wednesday. I hope you’ll drop back around when your next work is published.
About Rachelle Ayala: Rachelle has written four romantic novels. Michal’s Window is a powerful, emotional journey as lived through the eyes of Princess Michal, King David’s first wife. Broken Build is a story of healing where a man learns to love and trust the woman who destroyed his life. Hidden Under Her Heart is a heartfelt love story combined with controversy over difficult decisions, and Knowing Vera is a suspenseful, cross-cultural romance mixing an unsolved murder, adventure, and hot, steamy love scenes.
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