Friday, May 3, 2013

Andi O'Connor Interview


Today, welcome Andi O’Connor, author of The Lost Heir. Sorry, I'm a day behind schedule this week. Tomorrow come back for an excerpt from Andi's novel.



Tell us a little about yourself?

I am an avid reader and book lover, and I am the proud owner of 5,043 books. Yes, you read that right. 5,043 actual books. I don’t do the e-book thing and refuse to own an e-reader, and I cannot walk into a bookstore without purchasing at least 4 books.

Now that you all think I’m completely loony, I’ll tell you a bit more about myself. I am obsessed with elves and am genuinely distraught that they don’t exist. I listen to vinyl, particularly records from The Monkees, and my favorite drink is a large Jameson, neat. Up until recently, British Comedies were my main form of visual entertainment, but my two-year-old son has forced my husband and me 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 made you want to become a writer? 

When I was growing up, my mom shared her love of books with me, and I in turn developed my own book affair. My love of reading led me to write for fun, and things slowly developed from there.

As to why I write, it goes beyond simply wanting to share the stories I create. I am a firm believer that books are some of the most powerful weapons in our society. I am not one who follows the belief that ignoring difficult or controversial issues will make them disappear, and I do not shy away from including such topics in my writing. Although I write fantasy, I have touched on things such as female equality, rape, racial discrimination, and the discrimination of people with disabilities. People may agree or disagree, that is not important. What is important, and the reason I do what I do, is that I get people to confront the issues. Perhaps my writing will introduce my readers to a new way of thinking and get them to reconsider their opinion. Perhaps it will help them to better understand the views of someone who does not share their opinion. Perhaps it will inspire them to take action in their community and help to bring awareness to an issue. Perhaps it will aid them to begin a discussion with friends and family. Whatever the outcome, they are not ignoring the issue, and that is what is important. That is what will allow our society to evolve and grow.

What genre do your works fall into? 

Fantasy

What about this genre appeals to you? 

I love the freedom I am granted when writing fantasy. I can allow my imagination to take me wherever it wants to go. There are no limitations or restrictions to the worlds and beings I create. Yet, what I find truly magical about fantasy is that a completely fictitious world riddled with fanciful beings and nonexistent powers can be totally believable.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read? 

The Lost Heir follows a young man on a journey to a distant world where he must come to terms with his true identity before he can battle an evil that threatens the future of both his new home and his old. Only through his inner-strength, and trust in his new companions, can he begin to accept his responsibilities to save both Dragonath and Earth from destruction.

I suspect that at one time or another, many of us have wondered what it would be like to visit a distant world or discover we had magical abilities. By taking a character from Earth and introducing him to such a place, I was able to create a distinctive level of empathy towards Darrak. The scenes in the beginning of the book where I alternate between the two worlds are intentionally jarring to the reader. When Darrak arrives on Dragonath, the reader makes the same journey. They experience the same wonderment, confusion, and fear. They get as close to traveling to a distant world as they possibly can.

What gives you inspiration for your book? 

I get inspiration from everything. Literally. I have always been content to be an observer rather than a participator, and I am continually amazed at how much that affects my writing. I pick up details that many others might not notice. A particular scene or emotion I am working on will suddenly jog my memory of something I witnessed months earlier. People, places, world events, controversial issues, conversations, dreams, books, animals, expressions, actions; you name it. I’ve even drawn inspiration from the color and patterns hanging in my office.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 

I’ve done both. My husband was the inspiration for Darrak, especially in the beginning of The Lost Heir when the reader is introduced to his soda addiction and laundry habits. Other characters, such as Selantia and Anarra, are completely from my imagination.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why? 

I would have to say that my favorite character is Jae from my short story, Redemption. I was able to get inside his mind on a deeply raw and personal level. The situation he is in puts him in an extremely vulnerable state, both mentally and physically, yet there is an air of tenacity about him. Despite the deplorable actions performed against him, he still has compassion for others and a willingness to put the lives of others before his own. I actually find him to be quite inspirational.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer? 

The thing I continually find to be surprising is that I do not experience a sense of completion when a project is finished. So far, I have written two books and four short stories. When each one was completed, I experienced a great sense of pride and accomplishment, then immediately thought, Now, I can begin editing and work on the sequel to this or finish that… Though, I suppose that’s the great thing about being a writer. I won’t ever be done.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult? 

Terry Brooks was my first introduction to fantasy, and I am still a huge fan of his writing. His Shannara series is what got me hooked to the genre and prompted me to hunt for other fantasy authors. Philip Pullman is another author I read when I was younger, and I still think about his writing to this day.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day?  

I do not. I used to teach private cello, piano, and violin lessons, but I stopped that so I could focus on my writing.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote? 

Do not write to conform to society. Be honest, and be yourself.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works? 

The Lost Heir is the first book in The Dragonath Chronicles. I have begun work on the second book, Awakening, and have loose plans for 2 other books in the series. I recently finished another fantasy novel titled Silevethiel. It is also the first book in a series, so I will begin writing book 2 in the not so distant future. I also have plans to expand one of my short stories into a novel, but that keeps getting pushed further down on my list.


Where can we find you online? 

Barnes & Noble