Name  Carole Avila

Age  Uh, uhm…not important? I heard once a man or interviewer should never ask a woman any questions that have numbers: age, size, weight, etc.  😀

Where are you from  I was born and raised in Southern California.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

I’m a very private person, of sorts. I feel uncomfortable about sharing personal information on the net. However, in my forthcoming book (The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse) and my related blog, htase.wordpress.com (Healing Through Awareness and Self Expression) I share intimate experiences and feelings with survivors of sexual abuse. So my privacy is relative to location and those things not related to abuse issues.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Just this month my 500-word short story, Shadows of Oranges, won 1st place in an international contest sponsored by the City of Ventura. (It’s listed on my “Short Stories” tab at my blog: caroleavilablog.wordpress.com.)

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I loved my own made-up stories (we were too poor for books) and wrote my first one in the 1st grade—four lines of hero worship about my oldest brother on newsprint paper with dotted lines. When it came back from a substitute teacher’s hand, it was marked with a big red F in the corner, with all kinds of red punctuation marks where I missed quotation marks, commas, and incorrect spelling. 6 years old and I was so ashamed! I crunched that paper up and shoved it to the farthest and darkest corner of my desk.

From then on I memorized my poems and stories. I finally wrote them down in high school but kept them hidden. One day in my late twenties, my best friend, Laura, found the notebook and wanted to know who wrote the fabulous work inside, but I thought she was making fun of me! On her deathbed 7 years later, she snapped out of a coma and grabbed my arm. She said, “Carole, I’m closer to God right now than you will ever be in this lifetime. I know you were called to be a writer. Promise me you won’t die with regret and that you’ll write.” She died the next morning. After coming out of a huge depression two years later, I decided to write professionally.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Laura said I was already a writer with my first story, but once I was published I could call myself an author.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book? 

When my middle daughter, Jasmin, was about 8 or 9 years old, she couldn’t sleep after reading a book by R.L. Stine. I asked her what was so scary about it and she said to read it for myself. I did and didn’t find it horrifying at all. She said, “If you think you can write better, then do it.” And I did, but Death House took years to flesh out.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I would say that in any kind of book, cliffhangers are important to keep the reader interested, and that’s what I’ve tried to incorporate in all my works.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The title of Eve’s Amulet-Book 1 came up as a name for the time travel device. “Eve” is in honor of the first woman and the device is an amulet.

The title Death House came up as the answer to a chapter where I needed a cliffhanger. The main character, Adley, corrects a boy she met, Victor, when he mispronounces the name of her grandmother’s mansion, Capilla Manor. Adley says it sounds like “ca-pill-a,” like to swallow a pill. Victor tells her she is the one saying it wrong. It’s “ca-pea-ya,” and in Spanish it means Death House. (Mortuary.)

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my books are all about people, primarily women, discovering their inner strength and becoming the person they were meant to be. My books stress the need for self-improvement and living a happy and fulfilling life.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I have never met a writer who didn’t put a little bit about themselves or their experiences into every character, or a little bit about what they want in themselves. I am working on a novel where I took my worse traits and highly exaggerated them in every character. For instance, I never felt pretty enough or skinny enough. That insecurity is blown up in my main character who is a plastic surgery addict.

And yes, I use my own experiences and real life people as models for my characters—but I give them a lot of anonymity.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Because I grew up impoverished, I never got to visit the library more than a couple of times. (It was  too far to walk.) In 7th grade a girl named Denise let me borrow the first book in the Nancy Drew series, and my love for the written word was cemented. Every time I finished a book, Denise would trade me for the next one.  I think this is how I fell in love with cliffhangers.

As far as mentors go, I met Ray Bradbury and had the privilege of speaking privately with him for two hours at what was the UCLA Bookfest. Fortunately for me, they inadvertently put him at the wrong table and no one knew where to find him. I asked him at the end of our conversation, when people discovered where he was at, what was the one thing he could tell me to insure my happiness and success as a writer. He leaned slowly forward, looked me in the eyes and said, “Write.”

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Naming a favorite author is like asking me to name my favorite food, song, child, or pet. I’ve noticed in the past few years I’ve migrated toward young adult book series and to those book that grab the reader in the first line. Among my many favorites are Vampire Academy, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Great & Terrible Beauty, and the “City of…” series by Cassandra Clare. I love the Diana Gabaldon historical Outlander series, as well as Terry Goodkind’s Wizards series.

I am struck by writers who hold my interest by the very first line in a story, and can make me so anxious that I can’t decide to put the book down or keep reading. I love well written plotlines and language that doesn’t insult my intelligence.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Besides Laura, the first and best motivating forces for my writing have been my children, my closest friends over the years, and then the writing community, in person and online. I never felt that it came from inside my family of siblings and relatives; if anything they encouraged me to get a “real job” before I considered writing seriously.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

For me, yes, but it became easier to write with adult children out of the house.  Also, I have the luxury of writing while my physical needs are met through my relationship with my boyfriend.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

My latest work was Death House. I would shorten and spice up the first few chapters. In literary fiction one can write at a slower pace, but in genre fiction, it seems the audience wants the story to move faster.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It’s one of my clearest memories! The first book I read (at age 3—a self-taught reader) was a fantasy romance entitled, “Go, Dog. Go!” A girl dog tries to impress a boy dog with her hat while a bunch of other dogs drive cars and have great fun. Toward the end of the book, they all drive off to a dog party in a huge tree. The horizon was drawn with nothing more than a black straight line across the page, but I wanted to know what was beyond it. Then at the end of the book, the girl and boy dog drive into the sunset in a sportscar and I wanted to know where they were headed. My curiosity was so strong, I’d imagine them in different scenarios, maybe driving to a park and holding hands at a picnic. Maybe they’d sail away to a far off land. I was destined then to create stories.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am currently working on Eve’s Amulet-Book 2. In Book 1, Mandy time travels to the old southwest to 1845. In Book 2, Mandy’s cousin, Nicole, travels to medieval England. In Death House II, the sequel, the main characters only appear a few times in the book and a new family is introduced to the horrors that started at Capilla Manor.

I’m also working diligently on my abuse book. That one will have a lot of personal experience and is a tough one to write.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I am easily distracted by interruptions. I can see why authors need to get away from their homes to write. It can be annoying to have the creative flow interrupted. I can’t listen to music while I write because I get involved with the lyrics or melody, and it takes me away from my story.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I should, but I like writing too much! It would be wonderful to have an agent booking writing gigs, but for now I feel compelled to finish my books.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I did. They’re easy to make. The main thing is as an author, we can’t get hung up on what exactly the characters look like or the exact setting. We need to give the “flavor” of the book on the cover.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, nothing. Death House and Eve’s Amulet-Book 1 really wrote themselves as I simply typed what popped into my head, but I did a lot of editing. A lot. However, Eve’s Amulet-Book 2 requires a lot more research and has been less inspired. I guess the angelic writing force out there thinks I can handle it myself.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

From Death House I realized the amount of unwarranted fears I had. Many, like the demon in my book, were all made up in my mind. Fear has kept most of my dreams away, and I don’t want that to happen anymore. In Eve’s Amulet-Book 1, I gained a new confidence in my writing ability. I learned that I could write a good story, not just tell one.

Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead

In Eve’s Amulet-Book 1 I’d chose a young version of Andie McDowell. I love her smile, and enjoyed what I’ve seen of her personality in interviews. Plus, Mandy has the same beautiful curly hair. In Death House, I think any of the young starlets today could play Adley, but Victor would be played well by a teenage version of Taylor Lautner or Antonio Banderas.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Plenty! But for now, the first thing I’d say is what Ray Bradbury said to me—just write. I’ve written at least one small thing every day of my life, be it a single line from a future story, or the name of a potential character. I carry a small notepad in my purse so I have no excuse to miss an inspirational moment. At worse, I’ll type key words in my notes on my phone.

Second, don’t shun a good critique. Let go of taking it personally and grow yourself a thick skin. Your work deserves it more than your ego. Just because you have an MFA in creative writing or are an English professor, doesn’t mean you’ll be a good writer. Listen to the input of others about your work and take the suggestions that will help you and leave the rest. If more than one person says the same thing, be open to change.

Third, don’t be in a hurry to get your work published. It’s better to get a well-crafted work finished with tons of editing, than to put out a bad piece of work that may tarnish your writing credibility from the get go. Take your time crafting the most excellent story ever, and allow people to see your drafts without fear of plagiarism, which is a rear-ended compliment (that allows lots of publicity!) Just keep all your old versions and files to prove ownership until after you’re published and your work is established.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please help support my love of writing and buy my books! In turn, I will continue to entertain and/or inform you with my work.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Two fabulous works: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets and Sanderia Faye’s amazing debut novel, Mourners Bench. Both of these women have strong lead characters, are exceptional public speakers, and have amazing personal background stories to share.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I remember the first 4! 1): “Go, Dog. Go.” 2): Hop on Pop. 3): One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. 4) The Secret of the Old Clock, first in the Nancy Drew series. These were the only books I read in my childhood until the 7th grade, when the parochial school I attended opened its own small library.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Great conversations with friends, amazing books and films, people’s stories of themselves and their pets—they make me do both.

Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?

Who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus Christ or his mother (what an amazing lady Mary was to raise such a son!)

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?

I’ve never given that much thought, other than wanting to be cremated (ashes to ashes and all), but I’d like to be remembered as a writer, a mom, and as a woman worth emulating. I’m working on the latter!

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I love to read, paint, create, grow flowers (not pull weeds), and meditate.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I rarely watch TV, but when I do, it’s HGTV or a mega-series like Game of Thrones. I wait until a series plays out and then after hearing how good it is, I’ll watch all the episodes continuously before starting another, mostly crime shows like Dexter, Criminal Minds, and NCIS. I really liked Breaking Bad and Prison Break.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Again, you’re talking a long list, but among my favorite foods: Indian(mid-eastern), Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and I’m a carnivore. Nothing like an excellent steak, medium-rare. (It’s got to be excellent Mexican food to compete with mine or my mom’s!) Colors: purple, indigo blue, fushia, and burgundy. Music—that’s another big category. Some favorites include: Linda Ronstadt, Creed, Queen, Evanescense, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Amici Forever, Everclear, Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Chaka Khan, Eydie Gorme, Garth Brooks…like books, this list runs the gamut and seems endless.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

For 35 years I’ve been an intuitive life coach, primarily supporting survivors of abuse.

 Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

For writing: https://caroleavilablog.wordpress.com/ and for sexual abuse, https://htase.wordpress.com/ . My website is http://www.caroleavila.com/  but it’s getting revamped.

I am open to answer questions and connecting to other writers. For those interested, my e-mail address is:  info at caroleavila dot com.

Thank you, Fiona, for this wonderful opportunity to answer your insightful questions!

Buy link to Death House:  http://www.amazon.com/Death-House-Carole-Avila/dp/1626942080?ie=UTF8&qid=1463777181&ref_=tmm_pap_swatch_0&sr=8-

Buy link to Eve’s Amulet-Book 1:  http://www.amazon.com/Eves-Amulet-~-Book-1/dp/1626940568/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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