This week, I want to welcome Javier A. Robayo. As a child, Javier didn’t know a single word of English, putting all of his thoughts down in Spanish. But soon and little-by-little, he began translating the thoughts he had put down in his many journals, eventually learning his new language. And today, I am happy to introduce, Javier A. Robayo, author of, ‘THE GAZE’.
IDI – Hello Javier, it’s a pleasure to have you on Ink Drop Interviews today.
IDI – First, a little about your writing. Are your stories plot or character driven?
JAR – I don’t care for outlines. I get a general idea and develop a character, and I get to know them so well that eventually they take control of the story and pretty much walk me through their situations and reactions, their emotions and their trials and triumphs. It’s all about the characters for me. Upon finishing THE GAZE, I felt as though I lost my best friends. I actually missed Samantha and Lewis, to the point that I found myself unable to let them go, and quickly began writing ‘THE NEXT CHAPTER’.
IDI – I assume that ‘THE NEXT CHAPTER’ is your current work. Can we get a sneak peek at it now?
JAR - Yes, that is my current work. Here’s an excerpt:
Samantha’s grandmother, Victoria Reddick, helped Mum take care of me when I was an infant. I can still recall Grandmum fondly telling us what a lovely little pair we made sharing a crib. With Sam’s father, Joseph, still serving the Royal Navy, her mother, Kathleen, relied on her mother-in-law to look after Samantha.
The Reddick’s lived right next door until Kathleen was offered a position in the faculty at the University of Rhode Island as a professor in Literature. I was too young to properly process what that meant and I missed Samantha terribly once she moved.
Our friendship survived because of Grandmum allowing me to call Samantha on the telephone, and their frequent trips back to Liverpool during school breaks. By the time we turned the corner from childhood into adolescence, the families were so close that the Reddick’s would send her to spend her entire summers with Mum and I. For those wonderful weeks, my world was complete.
I think everyone had us married from the time we were first graders. I can’t say I blame them.
When that horrid period of sexual confusion set in for me, I felt such remorse over dashing those expectations more than anyone knows.
Samantha rolls and drapes her arm over my chest, then cuddles closer, leaning her head on my shoulder. Staring at the top of her head, I realize I never thought this much about anything before, especially things from the past. This is her arena. She’s the introvert, the tortured soul, how did our roles reverse so drastically?
It has to be the wedding.
My best friend is about to move further down on the road of life, and she’ll go on without me. Things will inevitably change and up until now, I didn’t want to admit just how much I fear that change. I’m also thinking Samantha shares my fear. It may explain the reason she’s anxious to the point that she needs to sleep beside me, the way we did when we were kids; too afraid to sleep alone during a storm, each looking for comfort in the other and never failing to find it.
I close my eyes and will my mind to shut off for the night. I’m happy to be a comfort to my best friend.
She’ll never know how much of a comfort she is to me at this moment.
IDI – Sounds interesting, I love the little teasers that draw us in. What are you the most passionate about within your writing. What is it that keeps you pushing forward?
JAR – A readers’ reaction, the emotional connection to the characters and their situations. I want my reader to remember a Samantha Reddick, or a Lewis Bettford long after they close that back cover.
IDI – How much of Javier will a reader find within any one of your books?
JAR – When I was 13 I didn’t know a single word of English. At recess I’d sit and write a journal, in Spanish at first, then little by little I’d translate it and thus learning my new language. I have dozens of notebooks filled with anecdotes and observations, events and situations I lived. My feelings, my reactions often end up on the page, so it’s safe to say there’s a large percentage of me in my stories.
IDI – I know I have many ideas floating around that cross over from the genre I usually write in. Do you have any such ideas wandering around and if so, what’s your outlook on genre-crossing?
JAR – To me, the beauty of fiction is that there are no limits. As humans we don’t only experience one emotional pattern every single day, but many. Sometimes we’re out of control, we’re down, we’re euphoric, no day is ever the same. A novel should touch on those emotions and not limit itself to a certain tone, mode, and jargon. Short of putting cowboys into space with a vampire character, I think there are certain blends of genres that truly enhance the reading experience of the novel.
IDI – What was the biggest challenge in writing ‘THE GAZE’?
JAR – I decided early on to write the story in first voice. I wanted a stable connection between the reader and the main character who was originally male. Once I wrote the prologue, the idea of Samantha solidified in my mind and it became her story, which meant I was writing the novel from a woman’s point of view. As I state on my tweeter profile, I’m fascinated by the female mind and its undeniable power over us men. I readily admit that women are far stronger. It wasn’t easy, but I learned some valuable lessons along the way, and my wife is probably the biggest and most important beneficiary of my research.
IDI – What was the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
JAR – John W. Huffman. I had taken a big risk in GAZE, and I wasn’t sure whether to keep it or not. Readers of a conservative nature advised against it and many cheered for it. I didn’t know what to do so I wrote to John. He’s a gifted author and has been doing this for a long time, so I knew to listen to him. He said, the story is mine. Period. He said to stay true to my voice and follow my instincts. I did, and the story became even better for it.
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
JAR – This is a tough one. For the longest time I ate up Dean Koontz books like crazy. His characters are unforgettable and they evoke every reaction in the human emotional spectrum. I’ve cried and laughed with many of his books, and often, something they said sticks in my mind and I’ll remember it for a long, long time.
IDI – Did you title your novel before you wrote it?
JAR – No. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years is that the title often writes itself somewhere in the story. The few times I’ve titled a story before developing it, I’ve felt restricted to justify the title so I stopped doing it. So far, out of the five novels I’m working on, all the titles have written themselves within the story. With GAZE I had to be extremely, extremely patient. For a while there I thought I was about to complete it without ever seeing a title surface.
IDI – I have written three with two more in the works. With two of them, the titles came to me while writing, coincidently, both of them had the word ‘Lies’ in their title. The other three had titles before I ever wrote a word. I suppose it depends on the work, the moment and where the idea came from.
Javier, who (or what) has been your biggest inspiration?
JAR – My parents. They left behind careers, family and friends, to bring my sister and me to America. They gave up so much and they have never regretted it. I don’t know that I could’ve done it. They tell me they are my biggest fans but it’s me who admires them more than they’ll ever know.
IDI – Tell us, what is an ordinary day in the life of Javier Robayo?
JAR – I put in my 8 or 16 hour shift at the steel mill where I run crane, I clean the kitchen when I can, spend time with my daughters (ages 5 and 7) and make my wife laugh. When everyone goes to bed, I write. It’s a little easier to write now that they’re bigger.
IDI – That’s a lot of juggling! One more question, Javier. As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?
JAR – Aside of the fact that I once knew only three things in English: “yes”, “no”, and “I don’t know”, I want them to know that I strive to evoke an emotional response and a connection to my characters. I want them to know that I consider it an honor to have someone read my work.
IDI – Javier, thank you so much for appearing here with me today. I wish you the best of luck and would like to leave the readers with a few links where they can contact you or check out your book.
JAR - It was my pleasure and here are a few places I can be found:
And now, for this week’s recommended reading. I received an email from someone telling me that they read one of the books I recommended and agreed – it was definitely worth the read!
I read the first one on the heels of a divorce and all I can say is that while reading it, I was overcome with comfort in the knowledge that someone else had been through those same emotions – and lived to write about it. Great read!
This next one is by Fannie Flagg and anything by this author is as feel-good as the southern cooking she often refers to in her novels. A must read.
And as long as we’re on a ‘southern theme’, for anyone who loved William Faulkner or was purely intrigued by him, you’re sure to enjoy this pick. (Sorry, the cover art wasn’t offered through Indie Bookstores… better reason to buy the book!)
Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of the award-winning novel, ‘LILY WHITE LIES’ & ‘MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE’, both of which are available through Amazon in digital or paperback.
Are you a published author? Would you like to appear on Ink Drop Interviews? Just send me an email to ladybuggerly at hotmail and I will point you in the right direction.
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Before you go, please be sure to take a minute to leave Javier a comment, rating or a like to let hiim know what you thought of what he had to say. He will appreciate it!
If you have a second, here’s something I think everyone might like, especially knowing this is by two 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old. Absolutely awesome! Let me know if you agree! (Sorry, you must have Spotify to use this link :(