Allison's Book Bag

From Nevada to Columbia

Posted on: October 14, 2013

She hated to spend the night at friends’ houses. She hated summer camps. Born in Carson City, Nevada, author Heidi Ayarbe, grew up there and attended a college only forty-five minutes away from her hometown. When she decided to become an author, she even moved back in with her parents in her late twenties. On her Bio and FAQ, Ayarbe writes, “My parents thought I’d NEVER leave the nest.”

The majority of her childhood memories includes her sister, Carrie. A specific one which Ayarbe remembers is of their dad taking them sledding on C-Hill and then going back home to have their mom’s homemade hot chocolate. Another memory which Ayarbe cites is that staying with a paper route for a year to win a bet.

HeidiAyarbe_TeaserAyarbe shared at Harper Collins Publishers that people used to tell her she could do many things well. And so she has run the gamut of many jobs: paper girl, babysitter, day camp counselor, backpacking guide, barista, library/cultural consultant, office assistant, runner, secretary, seller of jewelry at craft fairs, teacher, translator, to name a few. Ironically, writing was never on that list.

How did a girl who hated to leave home end up in Columbia? Ayarbe explains to Turbo Monkey Tales that it was a crap shoot. One weekend, she sent out random resumes to places all over the world. Six months later, she got a call from a bi-national institute in Pereira, Colombia, offering her a job. Ayarbe looked at a map, saw the mountains, and accepted with the plan to stay only two years.

Except then she met her husband and started creating new memories. Since 1998, the two have traveled and lived in over twenty-six countries. During that time, they have had a picnic with stale bread and a bottle of wine. Another memory Ayarbe cites is scrapping by on $10.00/day so they could travel just one more week. Now the two have settled down, because they’re raising a family.

Some of Ayarbe’s pastimes include dancing with her husband, playing with her children, and going out for coffee with her sister. She also loves to daydream, run, eating Nutella crepes, and watch movies. Perhaps, her favorite hobby though is backpacking in the mountains. According to her Bio and FAQ, the wind actually blew her down in Torres del Paine, she had a black eye for a while, and now has a “cool little scar” to show for it.

How did a girl who hadn’t ever dreamed of writing become an author? Ayarbe explains to Turbo Monkey Tales that when Ayarbe was twenty-seven, she was working at a local sporting goods store. The local arts center posted a sign, inviting people to come listen to young adult author Ellen Hopkins. At the time, Hopkins was writing nonfiction novels for the school market and made writing sound possible. Hopkins invited Ayarbe to join a writer’s group. Not only did Ayrabe join one, but Ayarbe also began writing for local family magazines, submitting articles to Highlights for Children magazine, and writing ANYTHING anybody asked her. She also started writing novels, the third of which became Freeze Frame, the book which I’ll review tomorrow.

I think stories are interesting when you take “normal kids” (who’s normal, right?) and throw extraordinary circumstances at them to see how they’re going to work things out. I can’t imagine writing a story that didn’t deal with the human psyche. We’re all little worlds of our own, walking around with certainties and truths etched into our brains. But everybody’s truth is different, right? I like gray area – testing the boundaries of right and wrong. So the stories I write, I write for the characters. I love character-driven stories and creating characters I admire, dislike, like, and kind of wish I could be like.

–Heidi Ayarbe, Imaginary Blogspot


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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