Today, Audrina explains how and what inspired her to write and publish three novels.
Childhood Fairy Tales to Book Boyfriends
It was only meant to satisfy my sudden craving to write a book, well that’s not quite true it was an ambition I’d held since I was a teenager but until the age of 40 loomed on the landscape I’d never took the time to see if I could. I’d been a voracious reader ever since my Nan read all the classics to me as a child. I went through the looking glass with Alice, tended goats with Heidi and fell in love with Laurie in Little Women. But my favourite character was Jo, the ambitious writer. My first jottings were short stories for my younger sisters that I would read aloud to them, my favourite being “The Return of Mr Tibbs” about a cat returning as a ghost to tell the children where his body was so they could bury him beneath his favourite apple tree.
Skip a few years and my world fell apart at age seventeen. My first love called a day on our relationship, we’d been together since I was fifteen, and I was completely devastated. He had taught me everything and never questioned the person I was or wanted to become in a way he still is my soul mate despite the twenty-five years that have passed. So two years later I started to write out all my frustrations at his betrayal as well as all my memories of the good times we’d shared. The book was called “Take my Breath Away” title taken from the song and the fact that it had been “our song”
I was so obsessed that I wrote it in under a month, I kept my notebook under the counter at work and just wrote whenever the shop was quiet. Then I spent hours at my Mum’s typewriter transferring the written words and it was finished – all 30,000 words of first love and anguish. I shared it with a friend’s teenage daughter as I’d written it in a similar style to “Forever” by Judy Blume. I was thrilled when she returned it and wrote me a letter saying that she loved the book and my character Stephanie and that it had made her cry in places. I wish I still had that letter because the thrill of it was beyond measure. But then what? The story was my baby, it was filled with my memories and I just couldn’t bear the thought of sending it off to a publisher and being told it was rubbish! So I placed it in a box file and it moved house three times until I found it again in 2013 – the year of the big 40.
I read it through and cringed but also thought it still made a good story but how to bring it up to date when it was firmly set in the 1980s a time before mobile phones, a time when long-distance romance involved writing letters? So with fingers poised over the keys of my laptop, I began my first ever novel. I wanted it to be relevant now but still remember the 80’s so I set it in 2012 but included diary entries from 1988. To take me back in time I compiled a playlist of all my favourite 80’s songs and with the music, all the memories tumbled back. Again I was obsessed, every free moment I was tapping away on the keyboard turning my fond memories into a story that I hoped would be relevant for all ages 16-60!
It had the joys and fears of first love brought to life through Stephanie’s diary (yes I kept my heroine’s name) and juxtaposed it with her teenage daughter Charlotte’s experience as she meets and falls in love for the first time.
When I pressed publish on Amazon I sat back and felt both satisfied but nervous. Would my friends who had vowed they would buy and read it actually like it? Would they see me in Stephanie and guess that it was about my own experiences. Would my first boyfriend mind that I had used his name for the hero? Waiting for the first review was nerve-racking, but when it appeared two weeks later I was thrilled – 5 stars but who was Viper?? I asked everyone I knew but it was none of them. The reviewer had picked up the Top Gun film references in the book and I knew that Viper was a call sign for the instructor in the film, believe me, I’ve watched that film a million times!
Then the penny dropped, a message was blinking on my Facebook page from a name I’d never forgotten. He’d been flattered by my memories of our relationship and I think kind of liked the idea of being a romantic hero in a novel. Then he asked me the question “What happens next?” Even I hadn’t thought of that, could there be a next? I mulled the idea over and then as more reviews appeared and more readers started to ask the same question I thought I might just write some more. So the first story spawned two more and I cried as I pressed THE END on the final book in the trilogy I’d been on such a journey with my characters and entered the realm of ‘what if.’
Well, the journey has been a long and fun one, three books in three years and guess what number four is in progress. It’s called “Bloodstained Heart” and I am hoping to publish it in June of this year. Then perhaps I can move away from the characters of my Heart Trilogy and begin to breathe life into new characters, in new places with new stories to tell.