On Emily's sixteenth birthday, she discovers a letter that tells of her long lost father, who not only wants her back but is also filthy rich! Tensions between her and her mother were never very good, and with this letter, they escalate to where Emily moves out for the summer to her new/old family - at their opulent summer home. Find out how Emily wrestles with her feelings, finds love and balances her two families in The Donahues. (Safkhet Publishing)
About the book:
Interview with Ayelen Barrios Ruiz PaganoHow long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started to take writing seriously at the end of elementary school. I would write a very bad stories but from there I would write more and more. I would show it to my friends and had a different project at all times. I’m 21 now so it’s been at least ten years. How many of those years have included good writing is a different question.
What’s the story behind the title The Donahues?
The last name itself to me sounds like it is from a wealthy family, so it was easy to decide that their last name would be Donahue. As for making it the title, I think the title should represent the book itself. The plot in the book only begins after Tim’s letter to Emily is found. He is a Donahue, the name Donahue to Emily represents her true self for a long part of the novel, or the missing part of herself. The surname is also what drives her to go back home after spending the summer with them. It is a catalyst for many decisions and actions in the novel so I thought it suiting.
How did you create the plot for this book?
I think the plot creates itself once you’ve established all of your characters. Yes, I came up with the beginning part, the makeup, of the story: Emily was adopted, however her parents never gave her up. The rest came with the characters. The characters drive the story. The decisions they make are the drivers for the next series of events. Jason for example: Jason thinks she’s cute, but he values being popular. Therefore, he only actually goes for it with Emily when he realizes who she is and who she is related to. Ben’s love for his family and university future merge and give him incentive to accept Tim. Stephen keeps Emily’s secret because he would do anything for her. Their true selves influence their decisions which influence the plot.
How do you get to know your characters?
I need to know a little bit about my characters before I can ever write down a word. I need to understand their motivations even if those motivations and intentions never get written down. I get to know them as people. Each character therefore (like people) have different taste in music and movies. You can learn a lot about a person by taking a look at their iTunes "most played." I like to say the dialogue out loud when I get the chance to; it helps me make sure it is true to the character, the way the character would speak instead of the way I would speak. Sometimes that creeps in, but it can’t be completely out of character.
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
I would have to say Debbie because like Emily, I find her to be very amusing. She’s a free soul, she’s a little bit of a wild child but a true friend. She’s the kind of friend you want to have. Because of her absolute free-child spirit it was fun to let her do what she does best--have fun and not apologize for it.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?
I think Debbie has it pretty good. She’s free spirited, confident, rich, and has a cute boyfriend. She has a lot going for her. So I’d choose her.
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene from The Donahues would have to be the scene alongside the train tracks. I think there’s something romantic about a railroad station, and in this scene Emily completely breaks (SPOILER) Stephen’s heart, which I love because in a way it defies the norm. I like that she realizes what she’s doing, and that she gets called out for her actions. I like that Stephen finally has the courage to speak up, and they talk to each other as equals. It’s my favorite scene because the reader really gets to grasp how these two characters are in their own worlds. When they are together, there may be people around them but it doesn’t matter. That’s what it’s like to be a teenager, and that’s why I like that scene.
You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
Ooh, let’s see. Since the story is told from Emily’s point of view I would choose a girl, as for who I would have to say...Emma Stone. She’s young, funny and has a great voice.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I like it to be quiet around me when I’m writing, meaning no one there to disturb me. However, every once in a while, I like to blast some music to get the juices flowing. It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I have head phones, music, and no one speaking to me. I like to talk out loud especially when writing dialogue, so being alone in those moments is a must, otherwise people think you’re crazy. Ha ha.
If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Yes it’s a stereotypical answer, however I decided to study English in University because of my pure love for Jane Austen. My favorite of her books, the one I read when I’m sad, happy, or just feeling meh is P&P. Mr. Darcy always makes me feel better.
That's one of my favorites, too. You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
This is easy, Elizabeth Bennet, for one reason: Mr. Darcy. The pretty dresses wouldn’t hurt either, and since it’s only for one day the pros conquer the cons.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, Homework, Work, TV, Movies, Web series, or think about what I’m going to write about.
What are you working on now?
I just finishing launching my first web series (Ironically called Firsts it can be found on You Tube). So for right now I’m focusing on school and then off to continue writing. I don’t know what that project will be but I hope it’ll be great.
About the author:
Connect with Ayelen:
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