I am so thrilled to have Audrina Lane as my guest on this week's blog. She is an accomplished author, artist, and active member of Rave Reviews Book Club. I am delighted to share her interview with all of you.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book “Where Did Your Heart Go? was actually based on a book I wrote back in 1992 when I was still struggling to get over the break-up of my first relationship. I was 19 at the time and the original story was called Take My Breath Away. But at the time I was too scared to send it off to any publishers so I filed it away in a box file. Then in 2013 as I was tidying up the attic I found my manuscript. It was also the start of my 40th Birthday year and I realised that time was running out to achieve some of the things I’d always wanted to do – write and publish a novel. So with some of the initial story still intact I started writing and pressed the publish button in July 2013 before my birthday in September.
2 How did your come up with the title?
Initially I was going to retain my original title of Take My Breath Away, but a quick search on Amazon revealed that there were literally 100’s of books with this title. I wanted my book to stand out as much as it could so I started to look through the story at all the songs my characters loved and so it became Where Did Your Heart Go? which is a lesser known Wham song. The lyrics completely fit with the storyline of first love and love lost.
3 Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A big Yes to that question! The story is very firmly based on my first love affair at the tender age of 16. It felt like the obvious story to write as I looked back on a love that has never really died for me. I was always filled with “what if’s?” and “can you go back?” The novel was my way of exploring these thoughts. I have to confess that I did use the actual first name of my first boyfriend as that of the leading man. He did find out and was flattered. Oh and the first kiss scene in the novel between Stephanie & James is my actual first kiss, in the very same place!!
4 What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological and logistical) in bringing the book to life?
Well, having not written anything except reports for work since leaving school it was quite scary just sitting down and starting. Luckily I shared the first 10 chapters with a friend of mine and she was quite blunt and told me that I didn’t get into my flow until Chapter 7 so I should consider going back and re-writing the start. I took her advice as re-reading it I could see the same thing! It was also quite difficult moving from first person as my character Stephanie and then third person to get her daughter and other characters stories to fit together and give a complete view. I didn’t need to do too much research except for a few dates for films and songs to ensure they were around at the right time in the flashbacks to the 80’s.
5 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess looking at the era that we live in now in comparison to when I was growing up I feel there is a big pressure over teenagers to grow up and perhaps take certain steps that they are not ready for. I just remember that with my first boyfriend he was aware of our age difference and never pushed me to do anything I wasn’t ready for.
Still being a romantic I guess that the other message is that True Love never dies and is worth waiting for the right person before you give your heart. (Sorry if that sounds a bit smaltzy!)
6 What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having to stop writing and just carry on with real life and work. My characters kind of took over my life and head and I just wanted to sit and let their story come out. I still do now!!
7 When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I always loved writing as a teenager and I would pen short stories to read to my younger sisters. I had a whole book of them, along with being an avid diary writer through those years! I still remember a story called The Return of Mr Tibbs, which was a story of a family’s cat that disappears and returns as a ghost to show the children where he died so they could bury him under his favourite apple tree.
But I guess since writing my first book and now being about to release my 4th book I guess taking that step in 2013 made me realise that writing makes me happy.
8 What books have most influenced your life?
Now that’s a tough question as I have grown up with books all my life from being read to as a child to devouring anything and everything (and currently work for the Library Service). I think the first book would be Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. My Nan read it to me when I was about 7 or 8 and then bought me my own copy of it and the rest of the series. I adored the 4 girls in the story but Jo was my favourite.
Next up it would be discovering Stephen King in the Library aged 13 when I found Carrie, and I was completely hooked on his style and depth of writing. I still am a huge fan of his and I always read everything he brings out. But I guess my all-time favourite book of his is The Stand, as it’s truly epic in size and breadth of topic. He has such a great way of making you feel for the characters.
Considering I write Romance I guess another influence is Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. For me it has breath-taking descriptions, sweeping staircases, beautiful dresses and the story of a civilisation changing with war. Scarlett is the ultimate heroine but I also spend much of my time reading it and shouting at her to just choose Rhett!! There are many more books I could wax lyrical about like Riders by Jilly Cooper, The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons, but that’s a whole other interview!!
9 Are there any new authors who have attracted your interest?
My absolute favourite is Sarah Michelle Lynch, who is also my editor!! I adore her gritty style of writing and her last trilogy reduced me to a 2 week book hangover as I was so invested in the characters in The Sub Rosa Series. She’s my number 2 author after Stephen King (I told her that!) Since starting to write I have become more open in my reading and generally I just read other indie authors. I am great friends and a fan of Louise Scoular, who lives just up the road from me. Clara Grace Walker, Merritt Kelly, K L Shandwick and I’m loving the poetry anthology Catching Snowflakes by Laura Diaz.
1 Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love nothing better than to write all day as I have at least 3 more ideas for books and am hoping to do some collaborations with other authors in the future. But unless I become a bestseller then I think I’ll have to just stick with the day job and keep writing on the side.
1 What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy my daily dog walks with my two black Labradors Rael & Lily. I find they help if I’m ever suffering from writers block! I love listening to music with my favourite era being the 80’s and my artists of choice George Michael, Rick Astley and Darren Hayes. But I enjoy listening to all sorts of music as my partner plays guitar in a rock band so it’s great to go out for the evening. Finally I love to dance, always have, so I’m lucky enough to be involved in a group that gets together once a month for a session called “Barefoot Dancing” it’s nearly 2 hours of dancing to different types of music from all over the world and all genres. It’s a very liberating experience to be able to shut off from the stress of daily life and have fun.
1 Please give us an excerpt from your book.
Here is an excerpt from Where Did Your Heart Go? and it will always be my favourite scene.
Here is an excerpt from Where Did Your Heart Go? and it will always be my favourite scene.
Saturday 16th January, 1988
Its two weeks since I first saw James and I can’t believe I am now lucky enough to call him a friend. However, I still want more – I want to add boy to that friend.
Earlier, I met Sarah at the corner of her road and we huddled under my umbrella, sheltering from the rain. After a quick browse around some of the shops, Sarah dragged me to the library so she could hand in her books.
“Look Sarah, they need a Saturday assistant,” I said, reading the small advert.
“That sounds good, I’ll ask at the desk,” she said.
With the application form tucked safely into her bag we walked to the pool. I could hardly wait to see James again.
As we wandered onto the poolside, I saw him up at the deep end, his blond head next to a dark one in conversation. I grabbed Sarah’s arm.
“There they are,” I said.
“I like a man with dark hair,” Sarah replied, squeezing my arm as we slipped into the cool water and started to swim towards them. James moved aside a little so there was space for us to hold onto the side.
“Hi Steph, hi Sarah,” he said. “This is Chris,” he motioned, who turned and nodded.
We spent an enjoyable hour splashing around together, laughing and joking. James gave me some pointers on my diving technique before showing off with a somersault. Then as we took a breather on the side, he motioned to me.
“Steph, why don’t you go under the water and close your eyes”
“It’s a surprise,” he said, grinning. I smiled back and ducked beneath the surface. As I waited for something to happen, I felt his hands on my waist and I almost opened my eyes. He pulled me closer and I felt his lips on mine in a brief kiss.
Startled, my eyes sprang open and I felt the heat of my skin burning like fire. I looked directly into his eyes for a second and then he pushed up to the surface. I was only moments behind him as I reached out for the side. My heart was pounding and my whole body was trembling as I tried to keep control of my spiralling emotions. I felt faint as I clung to the side, I didn’t have the nerve to ask him what this kiss meant. Instead I watched him streak off down the pool and back, racing against Chris.
“So?” she exclaimed.
“He just kissed me,” I replied. “I’m still in shock.” My lips were engrained with the feel of his lips on them. Everything felt new, exciting and wonderful.
James made no mention of the stolen kiss and I was too nervous in case I had imagined it. As we parted, the guys waved and we waved back, then we walked in different directions. Saying goodbye to Sarah at the end of the road, we paused.
“So what do you think the kiss meant?”
“That he likes you a bit more than just as a friend.”
“God, I hope so.”
“Chris was nice but a bit quiet.”
“You like him?”
“Oh yes, he has something about him.”
I’m now lying in bed watching the clock tick away. It’s gone midnight and for some reason I can’t sleep. I can still feel his lips pressed against mine and the feel of his hands on my waist when they pulled me close enough. His lips on mine were soft and firm against the liquid coolness of the water that surrounded us and held us both. We were suspended in a timeless moment. I’m now going to shut my eyes and dream of kissing James again.
Instagram: Audrina Lane
Amazon author pages:
The Heart Trilogy and Audrina's Poetry: https://www.facebook.com/The-Heart-Trilogy-and-Audrinas-Poetry-1518803495007973/
Authors, Artists, Characters & Lyrics page (where I interview people about their music inspiration): https://www.facebook.com/Authors-Artists-Characters-and-Lyrics-429328350595854/