In a debut for this blog, I welcome author Andi O'Connor and ask her a few questions about her background and writing as well as a few asking her opinion on some recent and ongoing happenings in the publishing industry.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am an avid reader and book lover and am the proud owner of 5,208 books. Yes, actual books. I don’t do the eBook thing and refuse to own an eReader. I suppose it should be stated that the aforementioned collection does not include dozens of boxes stacked in the garage containing an unknown quantity of children’s and young adult books. Talk of such things is forbidden in our house.
I am obsessed with Elves and am genuinely distraught that they do not exist. Again, we don’t talk about such things. I listen to vinyl, particularly records from The Monkees, and my favorite drink is a large Jameson, neat. Up until recently, British Comedies were the only thing I watched, but our two-year-old son has recently forced both my husband and I to add Sesame Street to our repertoire. I am an avid ballet dancer, and I am convinced that if everyone took ballet, the world would be a much more joyous place.
What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
My first novel, The Lost Heir, is coming in March 2013! (Yikes!!!) It is a fantasy novel that deals with discovering your inner-strength and courage, yet there is an underlying emphasis on the equality and empowerment of women.
But this is a more exciting description:
Always a meticulous planner, Darrak Hunter leads a typically straightforward and dull life until his dreams unexpectedly become plagued with visions of a peculiar and distant world. Waking up to a brilliant purple sun looming ominously in the sky, Darrak is met by a mysterious violet-eyed sorcerer who whisks him away from the struggling Earth.
Thrown into the clutches of a foreign world where magic is reality and not all is as it seems, Darrak embarks on a journey where he is forced to come to terms with his past and do what he can to shape the future. Accompanied by a talented swordswoman, a prince, and a beautiful young sorceress, he must overcome cunning plots of treachery and betrayal to discover the strength to stand against a destructive black magic and an enemy who is a master at deception.
Is this book part of a series or standalone?
The Lost Heir is the first installment in The Dragonath Chronicles. I have begun work on the second book of the series, The Poisoned Blade and hope to have it completed and ready for editing by the end of the year.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for enjoyment almost all my life. In fact, The Lost Heir began as a fun side project about nine years ago. I did not make the switch from pastime to profession until about two years ago.
From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
Everything! I know that answer is probably extremely anti-climactic, but it’s true. People, places, world events, controversial issues, conversations, dreams, books, animals; you name it. I’ve even drawn inspiration from the color and pattern of the curtains hanging in my office. Don’t ask…
What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Be yourself, find your own style, and write from your heart. Don’t write because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling. Write because you enjoy it and because you want to share your story with whoever will listen, be it one, one-thousand, or one-million.
Who do you see as your ideal reader?
As I mentioned above, part of my inspiration comes from controversial issues or beliefs that don’t conform to the general acceptance. I do not follow the belief that ignoring something will make it disappear, and I do not shy away from writing scenes or characters that may make the reader uncomfortable. It is a story. It is there to entertain, but it is also there to make the reader think. My ideal reader would be someone who is open-minded and willing to face these types of divisive issues even though they may not agree with the opinions or actions of the characters presented.
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
Neither. I’ve never made an outline, and I am not a planner, at least in terms of the conventional meaning of the word. The thought of doing either is too restricting and makes me want to run naked in the street to escape such barriers. (Well maybe not, but you get my meaning.) I have a basic idea of my main character and storyline, but that’s as far as I go. Many times I don’t even know what I want to have happen by the end. As long as I have the spark of an idea, I simply begin to write and let the characters lead me where they want to go, jotting down many notes and scribbling many arrows along the way.
Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?
My creative juices have to be flowing. I try to write every day, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. If I’m not in the right mindset, and a large Jameson doesn’t help to get me there, I make myself useful by working on other things such as promotion. I would much rather do something productive than stare angrily at the incessantly blinking cursor as it continually berates me for my lack of productivity.
What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?
Short answer: I find it to be deceitful and disgusting.
Long answer: [Rant imminent.]
I think it is done by people who have no integrity and who have no respect for their profession or fellow authors. They are selfish people out to make a fast buck, and their actions undermine the credibility of publishers and writers as a whole. In my opinion, every book will have good and bad reviews simply because people’s tastes vary greatly. Just because I loved something doesn’t mean you will. It’s just the way the world works. Getting one-star reviews doesn’t mean your book won’t sell. Take Fifty Shades or Twilight for example (neither of which I have read). Both have been extremely successful, yet both have gotten oodles of bad reviews on Amazon. As of 2/7/13, 4,994 of the 17,258 reviews for the first Fifty Shades book were one star, and 746 of the 5,801 review for the first Twilight were one star. Being an author, especially in today’s world, is not easy. If you want your book to sell, get up out of your chair (this wording was chosen to suit all audiences) and do something about it. Attend book fairs, schedule signings, give speeches, participate in interviews, be a guest on radio shows or blogs, etc. Don’t be lazy. Don’t make it 100 times more difficult for the rest of us who are actually credible. Don’t cheat and deceive readers into buying your book. In the end, you are still going to lose. [Rant completed. You were warned.]
Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.
4 dogs (long story) Molly, Max, Amadeus, and Mozart. None of these furry friends have played a part in my writing, but I did have a beta fish once upon a time that makes an appearance in The Lost Heir.
Assuming you have an active blog, point readers to a post of which you're especially proud or think will be of particular interest to them.
In the final weeks leading up to the release of The Lost Heir, I am conducting interviews with 6 of the major characters and am giving the readers a chance to ask some questions of their own!
Check out 'Meet the Characters!' at http://andioconnor.com/category/the-lost-heir/tlh-meet-the-characters/
You also might be interested in checking out the prologue at: http://andioconnor.com/2013/01/24/excerpt-from-the-lost-heir/
Where can readers find your work?
The Lost Heir is scheduled for release on March 21st! It will be available for purchase at retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc. Until then, readers can learn more about The Lost Heir and read some excerpts on my blog at: www.andioconnor.com
Where can readers find out more about you?
On my blog: www.andioconnor.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/oconnor.andi
Andi O'Connor is a fantasy author and freelance writer. Her debut novel, The Lost Heir, The Dragonath Chronicles Book One is scheduled for release in March 2013. She is a member of the International Women's Writing Guild, the National Writers Association, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs, the Boston Chapter of the Women's National Book Association, and the online writing group Fantasy_Writing. In her writing, Andi aims to bring the gift of reading to those who might have otherwise turned it aside, and she hopes her readers will embark on the most inspiring and exciting journey imaginable.