Interview with Lorraine Ray

What's the story behind your latest book?
WHAT REMAINS OF TEDDY REDBURN, 257 downloads so far, is the story of a town gone crazy for treasure hunting. Teddy Redburn, millionaire manufacturer of substandard mattresses, disappears and the town folk tear the desert hills apart looking for his cash. Instead of his missing briefcase of money, they find something horrifying, and rather comman in the desert southwest. DASTARDLY was published in February 2016 and it has 399 downloads so far. This novel of 60,000 words has been kicking around in my done pile for a long time, but I never got around to editing it. I think the reader will like the character of Vig, the writer of terrible vampire stories, and enjoy his verbal duels with romance writer Marsha. I had a chance to write some of my silly horror story ideas and pretend they were someone else's! TROMBONES CAN LAUGH isn't my latest, but it is based on my older brother's experience substituting as a trombonist in a Shriner band in the 1970s. A conductor at one performance really had a teeny fake arm. According to my brother, the Shriners in the band were all outrageous drunks, but nice old guys. A clown did not terrorize him. I made that up.
What are you working on next?
A small book of 25,000 words came out last May. WHAT REMAINS OF TEDDY REDBURN tells the story of the treasure hunting frenzy that takes over a small Arizona town when a mattress manufacturer from Las Vegas disappears with a satchel of money. I'm also still drafting a new comic novel about Hollywood circa 1964. The title is undetermined at this time, but it includes a cast of ridiculous characters who are filming a sword and sandal movie (think Steve Reeves!) in Calexico, California. The studio making "Hercules Meets the Worm Men from Outer Space" is close to bankruptcy, the director won't get out of bed, and the worm men masks were never made. By the novel's end of course all problems are solved and a young man from Indiana named Bobby finds a best friend and becomes a star. My goal is for the book to exceed 100,000 words by the end of the summer. It's my ode to Hollywood and those crazy he-men/monster movies I used to love. I will be publishing a mystery called HEMLOCK STRAVENUE in the next month. My novel I WANT MY OWN BRAIN is being turned into a podcast this month.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm currently reading THE TIN DRUM by Gunter Grass. I'm about to start ANECDOTES OF DESTINY AND EHRENGARD by Isak Dinesen. A few months ago I read H.G. Wells TIME MACHINE for the first time. I read anything and everything I find on the shelves of my public library or as an e-book.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
As a young girl I adored mournful animal stories and marked my place in those books with tissues, handy for the next tearful reading session. An evil adult was always about to shoot some poor kid's dog or pony. I think one of the first sad animal books I read was ALONG CAME A DOG, with a very doleful black dog cowering on the cover. That book had no discernible plot. This may explain my rebellion against plotting or something. Any port in a storm. Also, I remember the chickens in the book were given prosthetic feet.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm excited to read my books aloud in a quiet room. I like to listen to kids read at schools. I love writing comic dialog. Now some of my books will be podcasts and I can't wait to hear them read aloud by professional readers!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on an early black and white Kindle which has a screen saver showing authors' portraits instead of ads. I also read on my laptop and sometimes even my phone if I'm on the move.
Describe your desk
My desk used to be a low coffee table topped with tiles purchased by my father in Guaymas, Mexico in the late 1940s. The tiles show a mission, a lake, and five towering trees. If you've read "On the Rio Mayo," my father and grandfather purchased the tiles on that fishing trip. That story is based on their real adventure during that trip, but the table doesn't figure into it. And yes, an Indian actually came into their camp with a deer on his shoulders. Right now plants sit on that desk, but it's very near me when I write. Usually I have my laptop on my lap and I don't use a desk.
How do you approach cover design?
I have been making covers in a highly unsuccessful and unprofessional manner on I redid I WANT MY OWN BRAIN to show something humorous and quirky. A glamorous woman has a silly chimp face. That's my best cover and the book gets the most downloads at more than 2,000 now. An old pink serape of mine that was bright provided the cover for LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT. I wanted it to pop. I have made a new cartoon cover for JUAN and WILLY, but I may redo that. I enjoyed making the new cover for DASTARDLY with the silly screaming vampire. The title doesn't show well, though.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean a lot. I have reached nearly 15,000 downloads because of them and they're the reason I keep going. I'd like to ask for help from anyone who can spare a little of their time. Could you leave a short review of my work on a book review site? I write whimsical comedies mostly, because my mind seems to drift in that direction, and I used to wonder if anyone would laugh at the antics of the undergrads in LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT, for example. Finally I got a review saying they thought it was quite funny. The idea that someone had their day lightened by my writing really encouraged me. I can claim only a handful of reviews though, so if you have any spare time, I would appreciate your help.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
CONFESSIONS OF A MASK because the author had some scary images in that book which I had dreamed before I read the book! I was worried that I would have to write those frightening things and I found someone had already. Thank goodness. Is this the collective conscious in action? TALES OF GENJI is so much fun; I can dive in anywhere and enjoy another abandoned castle. I suppose you are noticing that I like Japanese literature. Another favorite is TRISTRAM SHANDY, for its wry humor. A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES never fails to make me smile. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE was so beautiful that I cried. That Virginia kid knew what it was to have a mother, and to lose one. I'm sorry if you're a Joyce fan, but Virginia packed a greater wallop. Emotional truth trumps just about everything else.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I write something odd, spontaneously, that simply emerges from the drifting ether, it can be shocking at times to discover that I have captured an aspect of life that I never recognized.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
At seventeen I think I wrote a very creepy story about a wealthy young rancher and a floozy who trapped him in a loveless marriage. I wrote an unintentionally funny sex scene that took place on a laundry room floor. Hey, maybe that story was better than I thought! It wasn't what most people would want to read, however. The lady was evil, a modern Becky Sharpe, as I recall. I can't remember writing stories as a kid. I was busy running around in the arroyos in Tucson.
What is your writing process?
I throw down stuff wildly at first. I work when I want to work and don't work if I don't want to. If time is being taken from me, I discipline myself to begin immediately with any time I have, but that's only if other things are impinging and I can't jettison them.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm terrible at this aspect of writing, but I'm working on it. I WANT MY OWN BRAIN is doing the best of all my works with almost 2,000 downloads. TROMBONES CAN LAUGH has really picked up readers in the last couple of months and is above 1,000 downloads along with LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT and A PHANTOM HERD. GENUINE ABORIGINAL DEMOCRACY is a few short of 1,000. Just about every book needs new covers to give me a consistent brand, improved inside promos, and promotion on social media. I've used Twitter in the past. On Smashwords I embedded videos for each of my books and those were fun to find. I didn't try to tape myself promoting the books, but found some fun related videos. I think I would enjoy these, so maybe my readers will too. Eventually I'll make a video of me. I'm on Wattpad and Goodreads.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Tucson, Arizona, the land of saguaro cactus and junky streets. My great grandfather came to Tucson to take care of the mules at Fort Lowell in 1872. I suppose I was completely distorted by the experience of living here. Many years ago I learned that Ray Bradbury lived in Tucson as a child. I'm pretty sure it influenced him to be imaginative. The deep purple canyons north of town are like magical fairylands.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote a comedy column in junior high. I was writing short stories by seventeen. The rest is extremely obscure history.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was scared when some favorite journals disappeared and I realized the industry was changing. At a local writing conference in 2005, I heard the keynote speaker mention some experiences he had publishing stories online. That was relatively new, I think, and it intrigued me. Industries do change over time. Artists now have a direct connection to the consumer. The absence of the middleman is disconcerting, but a little thrilling.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I garden and also work at the schools in Tucson as a sub teacher. I like inspiring kids to read books.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually they are project Gutenberg books, like THE UNDERDOGS, about Mexican Revolutionaries. I haven't found that book in any bookstores, though it may be available on Amazon.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I can't believe people are actually reading my works on Smashwords and liking them as much as they occasionally do. I almost threw LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT away. Someone gave it a bunch of stars, so you never know. Somebody else liked JUAN AND WILLY, which I thought was pretty funny, but I believed no one else would appreciate it. Of course, lots of readers hate REVERIE, my oddest book, and another person detested BEWITCHING EARTH (too much description) and PHANTOM STRAYS (monologues of the mother bored them), so I have to keep some perspective on all the glory.
Published 2018-05-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Hemlock Stravenue
Price: Free! Words: 63,910. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
The dusty streets of South Tucson hide dangerous secrets for a young detective determined to investigate a mysterious neighborhood death.
What Remains of Teddy Redburn
Price: Free! Words: 24,570. Language: English. Published: May 26, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
The disappearance of a multi-millionaire in the small town of Los Hombres triggers a comic and horrifying search for his briefcase stuffed with cash.
Price: Free! Words: 60,160. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Romance » General
Obnoxious, impoverished author Marc Viglietti suffers in his job at a museum while he dreams of fame and fortune from the innumerable, ridiculous vampire westerns he can't stop penning. When he takes money from his chief foil, Marsha, a romance author, he believes she has developed a crush on him after years of him babysitting her daughter Bailey. Will Vig learn anything about love and decency?
Phantom Strays
Series: Phantom Roundup. Price: Free! Words: 57,050. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(1.00 from 1 review)
Were you there when "A Hard Day's Night" opened in America? Remember Wolfman Jack? Hit the streets of a desert town circa the '60s and '70s as the teen siblings from A Phantom Herd go mad for the Beatles, dance to rock and roll, and try to give LSD to a cowboy movie star. A zany, nostalgic look at American life in the southwest.
A Phantom Herd
Series: Phantom Roundup. Price: Free! Words: 100,040. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Nostalgic for a lost America? Was Chester from Gunsmoke your first crush? Visit the desert Southwest circa 1960 as refugees from Indiana and Ohio cope with cacti and tamales, and a family of kids lie and bluster their way through a frightening adult world. A gentle novel full of wonder and beauty. This is the first novel in a two-part series.
Trombones Can Laugh
Price: Free! Words: 52,680. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Teen loner James Sauerbaugh wants nothing more than a chance to get his act together, when the Forces That Be land him in a Shriner band as a substitute. James discovers this band of decrepit drunks play circus screamers flawlessly. An ancient trombonist helps him develop an appreciation of the old coots and their Shriner mission. A touching, fun book that links generations.
Genuine Aboriginal Democracy
Price: Free! Words: 50,390. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
(5.00 from 1 review)
An anthology of quirky short stories including: Uncertain Trysts, His Faithful Companion, Big Paper Skeleton, Fantasy Artifact, Genuine Aboriginal Democracy, Mother's Woman-Marine Bra, Work Out Your Own Salvation, Consciousness Raising, Metamorphosis of Me, Snake Dance Disaster, and On the Rio Mayo.
Last Days in the Desert
Price: Free! Words: 26,980. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
Stacie, Tiffany and Yadira hope to shut down their rental house and get back their security deposit before leaving town, but first they have to fix the gaping hole in the adobe wall and rid themselves of unwanted graduation "presents," both the result of an uproarious final party. This comic co-ed romp will keep you chuckling.
Juan and Willy
Price: Free! Words: 28,900. Language: English. Published: March 16, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Who hasn't imagined finding a fortune in gold? Juan and Willy dream big like everyone, however their thinking is somewhat inadequate. After searching for a truck and struggling to babysit an 8-year-old who lives in the house with the gold map, this ridiculous pair blunder into danger at a toxic tailing pond. At least they have each other--as punching bags. A buddy comedy with a duo of dimwits.
Squaw Dresses
Price: Free! Words: 2,910. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
A society maven with a small dress factory uses intimidation to sell her leftover squaw dresses.
Consciousness Raising
Price: Free! Words: 5,970. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
A young girl who endures a badgering at a consciousness raising foolishly marries a scolding, caustic husband.
I Want My Own Brain
Price: Free! Words: 22,380. Language: English. Published: November 10, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When you’ve cracked up like Aunt Helen, what you need is a weekend with an irrepressible child like Stephanie Falls. She’ll remind you of what it means to be truly alive. Stephanie makes a monkey of everyone, including her doting grandparents, but her joy for life unburdens the troubled mind of her aunt. A heart-warming, original tribute to the importance of finding the child inside us all.
Snake Dance Disaster
Price: Free! Words: 7,000. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Two teenage boys participate in a ridiculous Snake Dance enactment at a mansion in 1960s Arizona.