Building Love with Avon Gale

September 20, 2015

Building Love

Hi there! My name is Avon Gale, and my first novel, “Let the Wrong Light In,” comes out on Friday. Yay! Dreamspinner was kind enough to offer me a blog post to say hello and tell you about the book. It’s my first novel, and I’m very excited to share it with you!

The story is about Avery Hextall, a promising junior associate at a commercial architecture firm, who has a stuffy, uptight project manager named Malin Lacroix that he can’t stand — and yet, totally wants to bang. When Avery’s design for a new performing arts center is chosen by the firm, Malin and Avery are forced to work closely together to see it built — and find themselves rushing headlong into a secretive, risky relationship that could cost them both their careers.

In order for them to have a future together, bold, impulsive Avery will have to come to terms with his own insecurities and help the emotionally-distant Malin move beyond a devastating tragedy from his past.

In the book, I use a lot of metaphors relating the characters to different aspects of buildings and architecture. Avery is an extrovert and a people-pleaser, so it made sense to me that he would be interested in commercial architecture, and in creating shared spaces for communities.

Malin, however, is an introvert who is more comfortable in his own head than with other people, and he began his career in residential design. Houses are symbols of our subconscious, and I thought it fit well with Malin’s personality that his initial interest in architecture would be residential in nature. How Malin eventually ends up as a project manager in a commercial firm is a part of their story.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about the architecture that’s described in the book. I’m not an architect (too much math!) but I do have an art history degree, and one thing I’ve always loved is writing about art/architecture. I primarily studied ancient art, but I did have to take a few classes in modern and I always really enjoyed them. It’s helpful to me to have reference photographs to work with, so when I sat down to write I went looking for some examples of modern architecture, both commercial and residential, as research for the novel.

While the performing arts center that Avery designs is fictional, I based it on the work of architect Moshe Safdie. Safdie designed the Kauffman Performing Arts center in Kansas City and the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters in DC, as well as various other community buildings throughout Canada, the US, and Israel. He’s noted for his use of strong geometric patterns and bold curves, and glass and windows feature heavily in all of his designs —  much like Avery’s.

Safdie’s goal as an architect is to provide meaningful, inclusionary spaces for communities to come together, and he’s also known to embrace sustainability and incorporate green spaces into his building plans. This also reminded me very much of Avery, and while the Knight Performing Arts Center isn’t based on one particular building, Safdie was definitely my inspiration.

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United States Institute of Peace (Moshe Safdie)

Also, while on a boat tour of the city of Montreal in 2012, it was seeing Safdie’s Habitat 67 that made me want to write a book about architects! Initially my commercial architect was going to be French-Canadian like Safdie, but characters are contrary creatures and Avery just wouldn’t cooperate. So I decided to make my project-manager and residential designer French-Canadian, instead. Hence, Malin Lacroix.

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Habitat 67, Montreal (Moshe Safdie)

As for Malin, his designs were based on mid-century modernist architects like Craig Ellwood and A. Quincy Jones. Both were noted for their use of strong lines, light and glass, and Ellwood has a great quote about how truly great architecture should invoke strong emotions from the viewer.

As Malin’s emotions are definitely tied up with one particular house in the story, I thought that was particularly fitting for him. I also saw a great picture of Ellwood smoking, which immediately made me think of Malin. Some of Ellwood and Jones’ work is a bit too dated now to be entirely what I saw in my head when I thought of Malin’s Berkshire House, but the general ideas are there.

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Daphne House (Craig Ellwood)

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Holmby Hills Home (A. Quincy Jones)

I had a lot of fun looking for the reference photos for the various buildings and design styles in the book, and if you’re interested in looking at any of them, I’ve got a board on my Pinterest devoted to locations. And if anyone finds a house that looks like the one described in the novel, send it my way as I’d love to see it!

What kind of building would you say best describes you, and why? Sleek and modern, overwrought and gothic (that’d definitely be mine), classic and elegant? Would your building avatar be made of glass, include water slides for no reason (because mine would), have soaring towers and spiral staircases? The possibilities are endless! Leave a comment, and a picture or link if you like! One commenter will be chosen at random to win a copy of the book.

Let the Wrong Light In is available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s website, and will be released on September 25th.

I love talking to people basically all the time, so hit me up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and come say hello! You can also find me on my website, www.avongalewrites.com.

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