Five Questions For… Deborah Reed/Audrey Braun

Portland novelist Reed—with help from her gory-thriller-writing alter ego braun—discovered a path to self-publishing success.

By Heather Strang September 21, 2011 Published in the October 2011 issue of Portland Monthly

Courtesy Deborah Reed, Digitally Altered by Portland Monthly

You wrote for 14 years before creating a pseudonym—Audrey Braun—and self-publishing a thriller. A Small Fortune made the best-seller list for “action adventure” titles for Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. What happened?

Deborah (left): I finally took control of my destiny. I self-published A Small Fortune and entered a novel under my own name,Carry Yourself Back to Me, in an Amazon contest—behind my agent’s back. Amazon’s new publishing imprint, Amazon Encore, offered the Deborah Reed/Audrey Braun combo a three-book deal. A Small Fortune has been rereleased in paperback, and Carry Yourself Back to Me, my literary fiction book, was released in late September.

Audrey: And while Deborah was getting her act together, I was developing a trilogy based on the characters in A Small Fortune.

How do Deborah and “Audrey” differ as writers?

Deborah: I write literary fiction with a poetic touch. I labor over my words. In fact, Carry Yourself Back to Me took five years to write. Audrey Braun, however, doesn’t give a damn.

Audrey: She makes such a big deal out of everything.

What inspires these very different personae?

One of my favorite authors, Per Petterson, says you should be able to tap your foot through an ?entire book. I love listening to Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams, Otis Redding, Patsy Cline, and the Replacements as I write. I love the sad songs more than anything else.
Meanwhile, writing comes fast and easy for me. I am inspired by urgency—being able to frighten and entertain readers at the same time.

Given your unconventional—but, as e-readers and self-publishing become more popular and accepted, increasingly common—career path, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Just sit in the chair. It doesn’t matter what comes out, just sit down and do it. Anticipate that everything you write initially will often be terrible.
Write with abandon and do not be afraid to write a gushy sex scene or describe a gaping bullet wound in a character’s neck or to rip someone’s face with your fingernails (as happens in A Small Fortune). Don’t censor, and see what happens.

What’s your vision for the future?

Finishing my MFA from Pacific University next June, and then traveling to places like Italy and France to teach and speak at writing conferences.

I plan to wrap up my second book in the Small Fortune trilogy, which was helped by a recent on-site research trip to the south of France. I also plan to not let Deborah be such a downer. Sometimes she really kills my buzz.

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