Hi Audrina can you tell us a little about yourself and what you been up to since we last spoke?
I’m Audrina Lane from a small town called Ross-on-Wye
in Herefordshire. I live with my partner Steve and my two black Labrador dogs called Rael & Lily. As I work full time for
the Herefordshire Library service I’ve been mainly doing that.
This means that most of my writing is done in the evening
or at weekends.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I guess the story that first filled my head dictated that I would be writing in the Contemporary Romance genre. Although this genre has many sub-genres and I have recently ventured into dark, erotic romance and also a couple of short stories which are paranormal romances.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned
in creating your books?
I guess the way that the characters can kind of talk to you and shape the storyline. I also enjoy it when new characters suddenly pop up to help move the storyline forward or sometimes in completely different directions.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I think it was “The five people you meet in Heaven” By Mitch Albom. I think because the subject matter was all about the ways that different people can shape your life even if maybe you only meet them the once. I hate ruining storylines but it was a book I read in a day and the tears flowed!
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I guess the biggest is assuming you’re going to make millions and be the next J.K.Rowling, when in actuality this is probably not going to happen for the vast majority of writers.
Also rushing to get your book out to the public when maybe it needs further work or editing.
What has your experience been like as an indie author? Bruises, highlights, lessons.
I guess the biggest lesson is marketing; this really needs to start almost before you commit words to the page. It is by far the hardest thing that an indie author has to do. I remember when I released my first book and after a month or two the family and friends had bought their copies and sales completely ground to a halt. Then you have to go out and try to find your readers.
Getting my first 1 star review on Amazon hurt as previous to his most of the reviews I’d gathered were 4 or 5 stars. But the review made a good point and it made me go back and get my book properly edited by an Editor.
Highlights, firstly when you see your eBook up there and ready for people to purchase, it sends a thrill through you that your words are finally out there. Then the next one is having and holding a paperback of your book – nothing beats this feeling. Also when readers message me or leave me a review telling me that they loved the story, the characters or that I have made them cry! Then you know that you have touched them in all the right ways.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I don’t really know, I guess you need guts to open yourself up to criticism but equally you can turn readers off by saying that your book is better than that of an established author.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My writing Kryptonite is music. I find it really difficult to
write when there is silence around me so prefer background noise like music.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Audrina Lane is my pseudonym; my real name is Clare Lockley. I guess the reason I chose another name was the subject matter that I write with my romances always having an erotic side to them. Also working in a public place and for the council I thought it best to separate the two different people to avoid possible backlash or stalkers!
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything,
what would it be?
I think my advice would be to start writing sooner. The original storyline for my first novel “Where did your Heart go?” was written when I was 19 years old, way back in 1992. At the time you had to submit to publishing houses as Amazon and self-publishing didn’t exist. I was too scared to send my novel off and so it sat in a box file until 2013 when I finally found the courage to re-write and go for it.
If you could spend the day with a character from one of your books who would it be and what would you?
I would love to spend the day with my character James but back in time in 1988. James is very much based on my first love and relationship and to get the chance to relive those special feelings and experience that first kiss again would be excellent! We would go swimming again, and then lie on my bed listening to George Michael’s “Faith” album and kiss.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I think I have two answers for this question. The first would be getting my book covers professionally designed, which cost around £75 per cover. Although I now have an author
friend who is designing my most recent and forthcoming covers and she is free.
The second was getting an amazing editor, who not only edits my work but suggests ways to make the storyline better. She also includes turning my word document into a proper eBook and paperback file. Well worth her £200 fee.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Ooh, tough question. I think you have to appreciate that readers do have their own imagination and don’t always need everything spelled out for them, they like some things left un-spoken so they can make their own interpretation of the themes work. I guess I also demand my particular readers don’t feel short-changed by maybe writing an expected ending – a shock, or twist or cliff-hanger between a series of books can make them mad, but equally has them waiting for the next. I’m a reader too so know how this feels but love that the author I’ve read has got me to the point of getting inside or emotionally involved with the characters and the storyline.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I am currently mid-way through the sequel of a two part series. I’m also co-writing a book with an author friend so this switches between us as we are writing as two different characters, alternating chapters. I have also started three other different stories, but they are all on the back burner. Finally I’m writing a short story for an anthology which has a tight deadline so that is my current priority.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Only the one that I wrote when I was 19, called “Take my Breath Away” which became my first real novel “Where did
your Heart go?”
What’s the best way to market your books?
OMG, if I had the definitive answer for this then I would be a bestseller!! As an indie author there are limited places for marketing. I currently use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as that is all I really have time for. I like to try and link my novels with topical trends if and where possible to reach new and different readers. Now that I have paperback copies I have done a couple of book fairs locally and am branching out this year with larger ones in Telford and Manchester.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters
from the opposite sex?
Getting them to sound right and true to their characteristics or place where they fit into the storyline. My co-authoring book sees me writing in first person as a male racing car driver who is a womanising alpha male until he falls head long in love with a pit board model. The male mind is a hard place to go!!
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
With my Heart Trilogy set of books I went back in time to my teenage years but coupled this with the same character aged 40. I think I did this because I was tired of reading just romances involving twenty something characters when those in middle age can also fall in love. The 80’s were my favourite decade so getting to set books back then meant I could indulge in my memories.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I actually love to use my reader’s names (first names only) and inject them into the storyline mainly in secondary character roles. For my first trilogy I used my first boyfriend’s real first name for my leading male character and I always wished I’d been called Stephanie! Then to fit in with “Top Gun” subtle theme running through I used the names Charlotte and Mitchell after characters in the film. So far I have never struggled to find a name to use.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with
bad or good ones?
Yes I do read my book reviews as they can be helpful in guiding me when editing future books. Ok it is always hard to deal with the bad reviews but mostly the good ones out weight them! I do like to find out and thank my reviewers if I know them. Having a growing fan base means that you can keep them informed of future book releases.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a
few people will find?
Only people who have read and loved “Top Gun” would really pick up the references to the film and also the lyrics for many of the songs that give a greater insight into the way my characters are feeling. Also my friends from school will recognise how much of the storyline within the first book “Where did your Heart go?” is actually based on real life.
What was your hardest scene to write?
My hardest scene was the final couple of chapters of the last book in my Heart Trilogy series. It involved killing off two characters that most readers had formed an attachment too. I worried that they would all want the “Happily Ever After” ending that most romances have but mind is a slightly twisted version
of this. Actually writing the two chapters made me cry
and I still struggle to read them now without feeling emotional or welling up with tears.
Do you Google yourself?
No, perhaps I should!
What is your favourite childhood book?
My favourite childhood book was “Little Women” by Louisa M Alcott, I guess because I identified with Jo March, the tomboy of the family who wanted to be a writer! I have re-read this book many times since my Nan read it aloud to me when I was around 7 years old.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
They are coming round to it. My Dad is my biggest fan, even though he hasn’t read my books. He’s a factual, biography reader so fiction doesn’t interest him. That said he has a pile of my business cards and enjoys handing them out whenever he thinks he might get me a new reader! My Mum has told me that she might read them one day so I’ve told her not to retro ground me for some of the things that she will realise that I may have done when I was a teenager. My partner Steve equally doesn’t read but as a musician understands that need to be creative. He’s also my website designer and technical person so his support comes in this area.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I think the only thing I would do differently is to have gone to University and studied English to degree level, perhaps with a creative writing course alongside this. I’m a completely self-taught author.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes me around 6-9 months to write a full length novel. I can do a short story in a few days if the characters are talking to me.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do believe that you can get stuck when writing. I know that the 2nd book in my Heart Trilogy tool nearly a year to write as I was so busy at work and stressed that I just didn’t seem to have the energy. I also struggled to push through the doubts that my readers would hate the follow up to the first book. I think most authors will tell you that writing the middle book of a trilogy is the hardest. To combat this I either switch to writing something else or to composing poems and a walk with my dogs is a great way to clear my head!