Meet Availia's Vision
Who is Availia?
Availia is a Bay Area writer and adventurer. It is a name I created, and to me, the name derives from the verb "to avail." Had I known that the name can never be changed, in hindsight, I would have gone with J. Arnett or maybe just Availia.
What About Availia's Vision?
Well, as a new hubber, I didn't realize that you could use spaces in your name, so it came off as a mosh pit of letters that I am stuck with—forever. My vision, as "Availia the Conquerer," was that I wanted to be able to write full-time, from anywhere with a wi-fi connection.
I had just read a book, where the main character dumped everything about her mousy existence, and became someone else—a better version of herself. To me, Availia is the part of myself that is brave, courageous, and dives in with both feet.
Who Are You Really?
Availia, is really Bay Area writer Jennifer Arnett. Speaking in third person, she is a contemporary fiction writer, screenwriter, and journalist. She has lived an interesting and well traveled life and her fiction reflects those experiences. Her stories are unique and deal with places and subject matter that are often overlooked.
Ok, back to first person.
What work are you most proud of?
In terms of writing, I wrote a short story called, . It was about a man who has everything going for him in life—the house, the job, the boat, the wife, and a son he absolutely adores. His son passes away and his life slowly unravels. He diverts all of his energy into finding a legendary shipwreck, but is unprepared for what he actually finds. The story is about temptation and how grief can take many different faces. Into Her Chambers
I'm not your typical writer--I don't like cats
What are You Working on Now?
I am working on a spy thriller with the working title of The Takeover. The story is about a CIA analyst, Clint Kelley, who is on vacation in Hawaii when his family is killed in a helicopter accident. He diverges all of his efforts into finding out what happened to them. In process, he comes across Soviet submarines and a plot that will change the free world forever.
Why write in the thriller genre?
It suits my writing style the best. I am a very visual person, and this might sound strange, but I watch a movie of the story in my head, then write down what I see. It's usually an edited story, with multiple shots and viewpoints—even cinematography.
Thrillers aren't prized for their beautiful and poetic prose—they are more action based—very "show, don't tell." Character's actions can be just as telling, if not more so, than words or prose.
That is a very interesting writing style. Can you explain further about how you craft a story?
I first need an image, an idea, a question, or a premise. What happens if the Russians resurrect the Soviet Empire? What happens if the President is assassinated? What is it like to live off-grid in Alaska? I'm naturally a very curious person and enjoy entertaining myself with questions.
Then I think out a basic plot structure and figure out what the character wants and what drives him.. It's usually a very simple here's a premise, here's a conflict, and here's a resolution I'm aiming at. Then I pull the trigger and go for it.
I come from an acting background and apply the same intensity to my writing as I did for method acting. What's wonderfully brilliant about writing is that it allows me to play all of the characters—to get inside their heads—instead of just one.
Then I stare at the blank screen until the movie starts rolling and I start writing. I've had many of my readers tell me they enjoyed my writing because it's very visual.
What background do you have in film?
I wanted to be an actress when I grew up—and in some ways that desire is still there. I love telling stories, and acting and writing are really two facets of the same thing.
I originally went to Long Beach State to pursue a degree in Film Production, but ended up landing on Creative Writing. Sophomore year, I took a short story class, and that changed my academic direction. I realized that under the guise of getting an English degree, I could still take film classes that counted towards my major.
I took several film courses, and was invited to do a one on one screenwriting course with Tom Towler (Jag, The Riverman), where the purpose of the class was to walk away with a working script. My script, The Dark Horse, got some attention in the film industry, but I realized that I wasn't ready to take on the Hollywood Beast quite yet. Rarely can you work in the industry, and not sell at least part of your soul.
From the distance of the Bay Area, I have let the work come to me and have participated in a couple of projects. I acted in an un-aired commercial and wrote Unfamiliar Grounds (2014), an independent film that is making its way through the festival circuits as we speak.
What's something you've never told anyone?
I'm insecure about my high pitched voice and think that I should have been born in the UK. English accents are so much more soothing to my ears. When I speak with a British accent, it lowers the register of my voice, and it feels so much more natural than the California accent.
You spoke earlier about the connection between your lifestyle and the stories you write. Can you elaborate on that?
Stories are everywhere. There are zillions of interesting characters everywhere you look. They are at the grocery store, they can be found at the bowling alley, or at a youth hostel on the other side of the world.
Robert Ludlum is known for having his characters globe trot and introducing exotic locales. I once read in an interview, that he never wrote about a place he hadn't been. Everywhere he went, became a location to use in his next story.
I see what he means. It's harder to write honestly about a place you've never been, or something you've never experienced. For it to be fiction, it can't be all true, but you can write from a place of truth.
I try to method write with every locale and experience. I live a very adventurous life and that transfers into my work, even subconsciously. I've drawn on my experiences wreck diving, working at an orphanage in Mexico, following a cult through the forest, building a school in Alaska, and looking for ghost towns in the desert.
I love high adventure and have done tons of hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, ice-climbing, rock climbing, and international travelling. I studied at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and backpacked Europe twice. All of those experiences have given me tons of material to write about.
What are your strengths as a writer?
I'm an INFJ or INFP, depending upon the mood I'm in, which makes the career choices I've made make sense. As INF's we are known for being highly intuitive, almost to a psychic level. I'm very observant of people and see things in them they often don't see in themselves. That ability to see through people's facades helps in the creation of authentic characters.
In the film version of your autobiography, who would you like to play yourself?
I would want Jennifer Lawrence to play myself. I like her almost anti-Hollywood-hype personality. I used to joke around that I would show up to the Oscars in a muddy Jeep and a dress from the discount rack at Macy's. It was an elaborate plan—I was going to buy a plain dress then sew on my own sequins and mystify everyone on "who I'm wearing."
What quality or talent do you wish you could cultivate?
I wish I could live more in the present. I know that it's something that needs to be cultivated and you have to be intentional about it. There is a part of me that has never felt settled—there is a restlessness that always keeps me looking towards the next best thing.
Can someone please get me this for Christmas!
Who is your favorite fictional character?
I'm torn between Jack Bauer and Michael Westen. Both characters are mutli-dimensional and have a hard exterior, but a soft interior. What drives them is really interesting. On the surface they are looking for patriotism or revenge, but what they really want is to be close to the ones they love—something they can never have. They are both tragic characters, perpetually fighting for the common good at a personal expense.
If you could have the career of any author, who would it be?
Robert Ludlum. He is a master at the spy thriller. His stories are better than reading a history book. He must have government insiders because his work is so realistic.
What inspires you?
Adventure. There is something about the open road, a high mountaintop, or an endless ocean that awakens something inside of me. I need a certain element of adventure in my life to stay focused and content.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
Sophomore year of college, on my way to studying film production, I changed to creative writing. I took several short story and novel writing courses and that set me on my current journey.
After graduation, I was so burned out, having written thousands of pages over 4 years, that I put down my pen for three years. I literally couldn't open a book for several months. In 2012, I joined Hubpages and the writer inside came back alive. I hope that at 70, I will still be penning wild and crazy stories for my readers.
This interview is in response to a writing challenge. If you would like to participate, here is the link.
- Interview Yourself: A Writer's Challenge
Share with the Hubpages Community who you are, as a writer and a person, by interviewing yourself. You might just learn a thing or two.