Red Lagoe grew up on 80s horror and carried her paranoia of slashers and sewer creatures into adulthood. She often spends several hours a day spewing her horror-ridden mind onto the page. When she’s not writing, she is substituting at the elementary school like a normal upstanding citizen. Red also enjoys amateur astronomy and can be found lingering in the inky shadows for a better view of the stars.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
RL: There was no sudden moment of realization. I’ve always enjoyed creating art. And I enjoyed stories. But the two didn’t meet up with each other until 2011, when I decided to write and illustrate a children’s book. After that, I knew I wanted to keep writing, but it wasn’t until years later that it really clicked that I should be writing horror. That’s when I started approaching my writing more seriously.
2. How long does it take to write your book(s)?
RL: My upcoming collection, Lucid Screams, is a culmination of three years’ worth of stories. Fair Haven, my debut novel, took almost two years. But that was a lengthy learning process as well. I would write, then learned a little more about writing, and then rewrite. I did that several times, so Fair Haven took a lot longer than it should have. Now, a book usually takes me a few months to finish the first draft. But then after that, it goes through several months of revisions, editing, and polishing. If I had to estimate, I’d say around a year for a novel-length book at this point in my career.
3. What is your work schedule like when writing a book?
RL: I am fortunate that I work only part time. So when I’m not working out of the house, I write (or edit, or promote, or other writing career-related things). When I’m working on a book, I’m incredibly focused. As soon as the kids are off to school, I’m in the chair. And I’m not done until they get home.
4. Where do you get your ideas or information for your book?
RL: My ideas just come to me in everyday life. Something might strike me when I’m walking the dog, or when I overhear a conversation. With a simple “what if” I turn that seed into a little sprout of an idea. Then I put it in my phone in my idea folder. When I’m ready to start a new book or short story and I need an idea, I look to that sometimes for inspiration.
5. When did you write your first book?
RL: I don’t know if it counts, but I wrote a short story (that I called a book) when I was eleven years old. Creature from Over the Hill. As for my adult life, I was in my 30s when I wrote that first children’s book, and pushing forty when I finally settled into horror. My debut horror novel Fair Haven came out in 2017. It was meant to be a practice novel, but as I wrote and rewrote, pouring everything I had into it, it became more than just a silly zombie story to practice writing. I grew to love the characters and the plot. Those who read it, loved it, and encouraged me to publish. So I did.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
RL: I substitute at an elementary school. It’s the perfect job for me right now as it doesn’t interfere with getting my kids off the bus, or after school chauffeuring. When I’m not substituting, or doing general mom things, I enjoy amateur astronomy. I volunteer with my local astronomy club and do free public outreach in the community. Astronomy is my first love, and often has a way of sneaking into my writing.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
RL: My family thinks I’m insane, but that probably has little to do with my writing. When it comes to writing, they’re incredibly supportive. The kids, my husband… my mom—they’re my number one fans. It’s so important to have people encouraging me to keep going.
8. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books?
RL: Aside from the surprising number of survivals from nail-gun injuries that pierce the skull? (Google research surprises me almost every day.) I don’t know if I was surprised, but it certainly was a bit of an awakening for me when I learned there was no scientific formula to writing: Just because you study, read, take the workshops, take the advice from experts in the field—just because you follow the rules—doesn’t mean you’ll get accepted. I’m very much a “become the best at what I do” kind of person, so when I put everything I had into making my stories better, making them what I thought the industry wanted, it was a rude awakening to find out the system was so subjective. Once I stopped trying to write like a pro, and started writing like myself (following some important rules, but letting some rules go for the sake of voice or style) I started getting an occasional acceptance. Every publisher, editor, and agent has their own individual preference, and all I can do is provide the best story I can tell that’s authentic and mine, and hope it resonates with someone.
9. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
RL: I have Fair Haven and Lucid Screams. Fair Haven has a dear place in my heart because it’s the zombie story I’ve been dying to tell since before I knew I wanted to write. It’s also the book that taught me so many things about being a writer. But Lucid Screams has most of my short stories to date. I think the quality of writing in Lucid Screams is better than Fair Haven, but they both mean so much to me for different reasons.
10. Any tips/suggestions on getting started?
RL: Absorb as much as you can. Read. Take classes and workshops on craft, if you can. Find a local writers’ organization that might help you find affordable workshops. Join a critique group that you vibe well with. Listen—really listen—to the critiques and make changes to your work. You may find that not all the advice works for your piece, and that’s okay, but you have to at least consider it. I highly recommend writing short stories in addition to your novel. Write, submit, get rejected, rewrite, submit, repeat…until eventually that story gets accepted.
11. What do you think makes a good story?
RL: I love when the author’s choice of words allows the mood or the tone of the story to bleed through the pages. This, with solid pacing and tension that turns those pages for me, really makes for an excellent reading experience.
12. As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up?
RL: I wanted to be an artist. Painting or drawing. Something creative. I have no regrets with the paths I took in life. My husband and I worked our butts off full time for many years just trying to feed the family, so my art took a back seat. I’m very fortunate to be in a position now, even if it’s at 40 years old, that I can set some time aside to pursue my love of art. It may not be the art form I thought it’d be when I was a child, but it’s still creating. And creating is my happy place.
Lucid Screams: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50260509-lucid-screams
Fair Haven: https://www.amazon.com/Fair-Haven-Red-Lagoe-ebook/dp/B0717B2PJ7/