Interview with Audra Red

How do you approach cover design?
I'm a long time graphic designer, so I love seeking out the perfect stock images and filters/tools for new covers! Sometimes I see an incredible stock image and it evokes so much energy and power... I end up having to write a story based on it!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up basically in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin, surrounded by cornfields and grazing milk cows. The town I lived in from ages 4-19 had only 512 people living there. I went back for the first time in a few yeaes and according to the sign outside the city, the new census lists the population as 515. Exciting times!

I mostly lived in the country and loved to explore the woods and fields and get into all sort of trouble. I think growing up so close to the earth has affected my writing in many ways. Many of the romance/erotic pieces I've published so far are not in my normal style of writing. My stories outside of the romance/erotica genre are very different.

I love a good romantic comedy or a dirty little erotica one shot that pushes boundaries, but in my other work I tend to write very realistically and enjoy focusing on the land as much as I do the characters. I hope to mesh this style with my romance/erotic pieces to see what I can come up with!
When did you first start writing?
I begun writing at a very young age. I have pages and pages of incoherent ramblings that at the age of five I believed to be the next great American novel. Well, maybe my five year old mind didn't care about the next great American whatever, but it did think it was producing GOLD. When I look at it now, old, sun-bleached pages from kindergarten and up, I have no idea what I had been trying to write... but I must have loved it to write 20 pages of the gibberish.

My decision to drop everything and BECOME a writer didn't come until I was halfway through a semester at art school. My major was photography, but quite quickly, and with the help of the creative writing class I'd taken as a fun elective, I realized writing wasn't a hobby like photography or graphic design, it was my life.

I've worked a lot of boring, mind numbing writing jobs since getting my English/Writing degree at university, so it's amazing to be able to self-publish online at Smashwords and other sites.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The book I'm currently working on (in the editing stages at the moment) is a gay romance novel written with the crazy talented Chloe West. To best sum it up, it follows two college aged men who couldn't be any different if they tried. One's an admired musical theatre major with a shady past while the other is a hard working natural resources major with his own secret to hide.

Of course the two dislike each other at first, based solely on looks and reputation. But love seems to have a very persistent way of getting what it wants... so you can safely assume there will be a happy ending (literally and figuratively) for the two handsome men.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've had my fair share of squabbles with publishers and rejection letters in the past, but what really motivated me to self-publish was the need to have 100% control over my work.

Sure, I miss having trained editors look over my work dozens of times so that there's not a single spelling or grammatical error in site, but giving up almost 70% of my royalties to a publishing press and having no control where the pieces are published or what the cover/description looks like doesn't seem right to me.

I believe that for all the hard work they do, they deserve that percentage from the royalties, but if I can do what they do (at least to some degree- I mean, I'm a graphic artist and copy edior who is quite web saavy, I think in time I can learn much of what they know!), then why not keep most of the royalties to myself?

I love being able to create my own covers and keep sites and profiles updated personally.

I have to admit, though, I miss someone doing the boring, technical work for me. It takes a lot of time away from my creative projects.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords does so much of the technical "busy work" that I dislike doing so much, yet they allow me to keep creative control of my works. There's so many stores I'd never be able to publish my work to without Smashwords.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just the act of writing is the greatest joy. I love to put down on paper (or Microsoft word file, let's be serious!), all of the ideas in my head... especially when they come together to create something that not only gives joy to me, but to other readers.

I like being able to write something that enriches my life and others. It's my lifelong dream to someday write something that I'm proud of and others love.
What do your fans mean to you?
Since I began self publishing, I haven't had too much interaction with fans. I've been self publishing for little over a year now, though I haven't updated any work since last October.

Now that I'm back to writing and publishing, I want to try and make myself more accessible to my readers through social media and other outlets. I haven't really reached a point where I'd even say I have fans, just casual readers. If I ever build up a following, I would love to interact with them and ask for critiques or thoughts on my work. I always have a good ear for constructive criticism.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I travel quite a bit with my significant other. He works on the road and we get to visit many interesting places around the US and the rest of the world. I just recently returned from a 10 day stay in Tokyo and it was beyond inspiring!

I love to people watch, sight see and play with photography and graphic/web design. I also love spending time with my two kitties and my best bud and roommate Lolita Grey, who is an up in coming erotic romance author. Look out for her!
What is your writing process?
My writing process varies depending on what mood I'm in or what's going on in my life. I usually hate outlining a story, however, I am a Virgo, so the perfectionist side of me usually wins out.

I'll usually become inspired by a real life event and then in my head elaborate on it until I've come up with some original characters and a plot. Then I painstakingly outline every scene (including large bits of dialogue) of the story. If I come across something that doesn't fit when I'm writing from the outline, I can pretty easily make changes without getting too caught up in my original ideas. I think I'm pretty flexible with my storylines.

On some occasions I'll become so enamored and excited about an idea that I'll jump right in and begin typing as fast as my fingers can go... though they usually aren't as fast as my mind, so I get a bit ahead of myself.

I also love to write in very comfortable environments. No desk and char for this girl. If I don't have a comfortable couch or chair, I usually will sit in bed with my back upright and my street sticking straight out. Not sure if that's part of the answer you were looking for when you created this question, but there it is. People sometimes think I'm lazy when I'm sitting in bed with my laptop tray on my legs- but they have no clue that I'm actually deep into writing, editing or working on story covers.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Nothing.

Seriously.

I sleep until I wake up so I'm well rested and 1/3rd of my working time is spent all cozied up in bed!
Published 2013-10-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.