Monday, February 24, 2014

Audra Middleton and Hitchhiker

Please welcome my friend Audra Middleton, whose recently released Hitchhiker, from Champagne Books, is a real winner! It's good to have you here, Audra.
Tell us about Hitchhiker, Audra. 

Hitchhiker is something like a backward X-Files. It is about a group of FBI agents solving normal crimes with their paranormal gifts. My main character, Ainsley, has a supernatural ability that makes her a human surveillance device. She’s being recruited by this FBI freak squad, but is hesitant to join them due to her laundry list of insecurities.

How did it come about?

I had spent years writing my first novel, a fantasy, and I was looking to write something a little lighter, set in modern day USA so I didn’t have to create a whole new world. I decided to start by "writing what I knew," so I made my main character a sarcastic middle school teacher (I used to be one), and then for fun I gave her the ability to hitch a ride in other people’s central nervous systems. Naturally, with a talent like that the FBI would be interested in her. It just kept going like that, one idea building on the last until I had myself a quirky little novel.

What changed as you wrote or researched?

As I wrote it, I had realized I needed to develop my antagonist more. I ended up adding and revising several chapters as I spent more time in his head.
I love that twist on a popular TV show. Speaking of influences, what authors do you return to again & again? Where do you find new authors to read?

I love reading Beverly Cleary to my kids, and I enjoy reading Stephen King myself. I find new authors through my on-line critique group and through my publishing company, Champagne Books and their Burst line. I really enjoy reading indie work. It’s refreshing.

We are fortunate to have so many sources for good writing these days. Do you have a writing routine or ritual? What distracts you when you’re writing? 

I like to sit in my recliner with my laptop, giant dictionary and a cup of coffee. But as long as I’ve got a great character in mind, I can write anywhere. My main distraction to writing is life – laundry, my job, running my kids from one practice to the next. But you have to live to write.

I hear you! My kids are grown, but there are still so many distractions. What do you like best/least about writing?

I love it when my characters take over. That’s when writing is more fun than work.The most challenging thing for me as a writer has been putting myself "out there." Letting others read my writing, at first, felt a bit like getting naked in front of them. Once I got used to that, it was time to pitch. After that, I had to start marketing. Every step of the way I'm exposing myself to more people. It’s been challenging, but it’s a lot more fun to share my writing with people than with a file drawer, and that thought is what keeps me going.
A large percentage of the writers I know struggle (to put it mildly) with marketing. If we were naturals at it, we'd be selling stuff, wouldn't we? One a more pleasant note, what are your favorite non-writing activities?

I like to read to my boys, play poker with my friends, and relax in front of a good movie with my husband. I would add daydreaming, but I consider that part of my writing process. 

A lot of non-writers don't realize how important daydreaming is to the creative process. We may look idle, but we're working furiously. In those daydreams, what else are you working on?

I am polishing up a romantic comedy about a woman whose normal life unravels and as a result she ends up falling for a drummer, coming to terms with her unconventional childhood, and discovering that normal was never really in her best interest. I am also working on the third and final book in my fantasy series and a sequel to Hitchhiker.

I can see the t-shirt already--Normal is not in my best interest. Great tagline. Where has writing taken you that you never expected to go?  

I spent a good deal of time researching how to poison people for this novel, which isn’t something I’ve considered in real life. It’s harder than you’d think (if you don’t want it discovered).

(Shivers) Remind me not to make you angry. How do you deal with dry spells? 

To deal with writer’s block I try to edit sections I’ve already written, skip around and write fun scenes that have popped into my head but I’m not sure where they’ll fit in, or if I’m really stuck, I’ll sometimes read the dictionary. It seems weird, but interesting words can sometimes spark new ideas for me.

It's not weird. Dictionaries are among my favorite books. Do you remember the first book you ever read or had read to you? First story you wrote?  

The first chapter book I remember reading was a biography of Helen Keller. I sat in the recliner all day and read it start to finish. The first story I remember writing was about a giant cookie that comes to life. It won me a seat at the Young Author’s Conference that year.
Audra, thanks for spending the time to be here today, and thanks for your thoughtful answers to my questions. Readers, be sure to check out Hitchhiker at the links below the blurb.


Small town art teacher, Ainsley Benton, has the ability to see, hear, and feel what other people are experiencing, and now the FBI’s freak squad wants to use her “human bug” abilities to catch bad guys. Despite her fear of commitment, failure, and responsibility, Ainsley temporarily agrees to help this team of misfits, and ends up risking life and limb to investigate a conspiracy that may only be one of her schizophrenic co-worker’s paranoid delusions.

ContactAudra loves to connect with readers at or

Buy Links for Hitchhiker:

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