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  • Writer's pictureMariana Zapata

Dear Aaron AKA Dear Ruby

If you didn’t know, I released my seventh novel, “Dear Aaron”, about three weeks ago! Can we all say YAY? 🙂

(You might be wondering why it’s taken me three weeks to post about the release on here, and I’ll tell you. I was out of the country for almost two weeks. I had a signing—RARE Berlin—in Germany, which went absolutely amazing, and then took a real vacation AKA I did zero work for the first time in probably five years. Ask me how many regrets I have. If you answered ‘zero’, you are correct.)

Anyway, DA hit the #5 spot on Amazon’s Kindle Bestsellers list, and I couldn’t be any happier with it. So, in honor of Aaron’s release, let me tell you a little about the story and thoughts behind it. I’ll try and keep the spoilers to a minimum, but you should probably read the book first to understand what I’m talking about.

For years, I’ve been wanting to write a story about a girl and a guy that fall in love without ever meeting in person. A few times, I found some books that dealt with the trope but none of them actually included the letters/emails/IMs, or if there was, it was very little. Now you know my ass loves to see everything unfold with my own two eyes because I’m all about the journey versus the destination, so… this idea was sprouted. Fortuantely, I had a lot of other ideas I wanted to write before this particular one, so fast forward a few years to January/February 2017.

Lord. January/February 2017. Ugh.

I should probably explain in advance that I decided about two years ago that I wanted to take breaks in between my contemporary books. My background in writing is writing romance comedy, it’s what usually comes the easiest for me, but I love a challenge so that’s why I ventured into contemporary land. Anyway, my plan was: 1 funny book, 2 contemporaries, 1 funny book, 2 contemporaries, etc., etc. While I know people love my longer books and am fully aware that they’re what sells the best, I need breaks. I need to cleanse my palate in a way, steer away from the mind-trip that is 130+ thousand word books (the planning and mapping that goes on to really nail—at least for me, in my opinion—a long book is tough, y’all) and just write something that isn’t so serious.

Hence, my 2-1-2-1 plan.

My problem in January/February 2017 is that while I was trying to write my “funny” book, I wasn’t in the funny-book writing mood at all. Without going into too much detail, I had some legal issues pop up with someone in this industry that stole not just my love of writing, but my confidence and joy, away. Not to sound like a total cliché, but I write from my heart. I can’t write when I’m in a bad mood (but I can when I’m sad for some reason). If anyone ever tells you that imitation is the highest form of flattery, let me tell you that it isn’t. I was as much of a wreck as I could be for a month.

So, this funny-book wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t happening. Not at all.

I knew what I needed to do. And so, I went through my list of book ideas and found “Pen Pal Romance” in there. I didn’t even have to go further down my potential plots for me to know that this this was the book I was supposed to be writing at that moment. The ideas just started pouring in. My main theme behind it was this hope to write a book about loving someone for who they are. Keep this in mind. Maybe the “funny” wasn’t going to work but I could tackle an issue and idea that could make me happy.

After Diana’s character in “Wait for It”, I knew I wanted to write someone very, very different, and once I accepted that—and had my goal for the theme throughout the book—it had still been incredibly difficult for me to go with it. I love strong, vocal heroines. I can relate to them because I’m a bossy, stubborn, Type-A personality.

But just because I am the way that I am, doesn’t mean we all are. I know this. I wanted to write someone who struggles with anxiety and tries to beat it as bet as she can. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of people in my life, and a lot of those folks aren’t confident, blunt, or fearless… at least not all the time. You don’t have to be outspoken and brassy to be a bad bitch. So I wanted to give those people I’ve loved, admired and respected, those wonderful friends I’ve met who are quiet in their greatness, their own voice and character.

And so, Ruby was born.

I should say beforehand, she was the hardest character I’ve ever written—it was a mix of her personality, of the pain of looking back on who I was at twenty-four (and the reminder that I had no idea what the hell I was doing with my life at that point, only knowing how unhappy I was with some decisions I’d made), and also the lesson I learned while trying to incorporate that emotion into the book about how we’re all wonderful and amazing in our own way even though we’re flawed—but at the end, I was totally and completely in love with her.

Flash forwarding to about a week ago, I had a conversation with a reader that got me thinking about Ruby’s character. I asked her if she liked DA and she said yes but that she wished there had been more character development. So I asked her what she felt was missing. Her response was, “Ruby was still really insecure and shy at the end of the book.” It was then that I knew I’d done the right thing with Ruby. I just kind of smiled at her and explained that she was right, she hadn’t grown out of it but only because there’s nothing wrong with being shy or insecure.

There isn’t anything to grow out of. I tried to leave hints along the way, especially during the first half of the book that takes place over 9 months, of Ruby’s growth. How she quit her job even though she was terrified, stood up to her family, and decided to take a chance and date despite her history. To me, that’s a huge growth in character and it takes a lot of strength to make those kinds of decisions. How many people do we each not know who hate their jobs but are too scared to quit, or get taken advantage of by others, even in little ways, and never put a stop to it? Personally, for me, I have a really hard time taking a chance sometimes and being brave; publishing books gives me anxiety out of my ass but I still do it. There’s a line in the book where Ruby says something about how you can fall sometimes and decide that being there, on the floor, isn’t as uncomfortable as you might expect and you decide to stay there because it isn’t exactly a horrible place to be. To a certain extent, I think we can all relate to that.

I wanted Ruby to be an honest version of the insecurity we all carry inside of ourselves and are too prideful to want to acknowledge. Maybe that’s just me. And I wanted Aaron to be the kind of hero that loves a girl for exactly who she is and slowly helps her along the way, deciding to love her and coax her into the person she can be without changing the essence of who she is. The book is supposed to be a small chapter in their lives, of creating this relationship that will last forever as they both finish growing into themselves—together. Writing them a perfect happily-ever-after before the epilogue with all their shit figured out when they’re both young didn’t feel like the right thing to do for them. It was more about giving them the tools and the love they need to be fine in the future.

DA is a different kind of love story but I couldn’t be happier with it. I hope you guys love Ruron’s story as much as I do.

Fast forwarding to the present, I’ve started my research for my next book and it’s a lot more intensive than I thought it was going to be, haha. But I’m super excited about it. I would say almost crazy excited. I have a ton of notes for both characters written, the plot is really clear in my head… but I still haven’t decided what to name the hero. Wish me luck.


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1 comentário

Nakita Jordene Watts Evans
Nakita Jordene Watts Evans
01 de nov. de 2023

Will there ever be a sequel to this book? I found this book yesterday and I haven’t been able to put it down. I finished it within 24 hours, but I need to know more🥲🥲

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