Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Andi O’Connor!
Andi O’Connor is the award winning author of the fantasy series The Dragonath Chronicles, The Vaelinel Trilogy, and The Legacy of Ilvania. Andi’s novel,Silevethiel, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013 and is the Best Indie Book Award 2015 winner for Sci-fi/Fantasy. Her short story Redemption, is a Kindle Book Review, 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semifinalist. Andi is a member of the National Writers Association and the Boston Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.
Without further ado, here’s Andi’s interview…
I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Actually, no. I was always a huge reader, but went to college for cello performance. I taught private lessons for a while and performed in a duet and symphony. I had started writing my book The Lost Heir for fun. But it wasn’t until after my mom died in 2011 that I decided to sit down, finish it, and get it published in her memory.
Why did you choose to write Fantasy? I have always been attracted to Fantasy. I love the idea of magical powers and worlds, but well-written fantasy feels real despite all of the imaginary concepts. It’s mostly what I read growing up and naturally what I felt most comfortable writing about. The creativity I can use is extremely freeing. As long as I stay within the confines of the world I create, there is no limitation to where I can let my imagination go.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? Although I write fantasy, I include many real social issues. I wouldn’t really say anything I’ve written would be strange, per se. But I have certainly written about topics which will make some people uncomfortable. I don’t believe in shying away from things that may be rough to acknowledge. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away and it doesn’t bring about change. Another important aspect about difficult issues that many people overlook is the fact that nothing is black and white.
I think one of the most uncomfortable topics I’ve written about is an abortion scene in my short story Reclamation. Juriel was forced into marriage when she was nine and became pregnant. But the fetus isn’t developing properly. It won’t survive the birth and neither will Juriel. Jae, the Healer, wants to abort the baby and save Juriel. To him, it is better to save one life than none. The husband and midwife want her to deliver the baby regardless, saying God will save the baby and that Jae cannot kill an innocent child. But he argues that Juriel is a child herself.
What are you currently working on? I am currently working on my next novel, The Speaker. It is the sequel to Silevethiel.
What motivated the plots of the books you write? For everything I write, the plot is motivated by the characters. I don’t have a specific idea of where I want the plot to go. I let the characters evolve, develop, and tell me where to go.
What was the hardest story for you to write? The hardest story so far is actually the one I’m currently working on, The Speaker. For some reason, I couldn’t get into it for a while. I felt like I’d evolved too much as a writer since publishing Silevethiel. But I worked around it and realized I can let the story take on a darker feel like everything else I’m writing has. So now it’s going well! (Beer and Jameson have also helped!)
What process do you use to plan your novels? I don’t use a process and I don’t plan. I have a general idea that sometimes doesn’t even have anything to do with a plot, and I just start writing. I take notes so I can make sure I’m consistent with events/characters in later books, but that’s it. [Another pantser! Yay!]
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I think my answer for this changes each time I’m asked the question! Right now, I’d have to say that my favorite character is Mionee from my series The Dragonath Chronicles. She’s a villain, but not a typical one. Her reasons for doing what she’s done are extremely complex. Some were of her own doing, but some were not. She evolves greatly through the first two books in the series and endures things not many villains in fantasy do. By the end of Awakening (book 2) she is still the enemy, but not for reasons you may think.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? Yes, but not intentionally so. I wrote my first novel, The Lost Heir, and it wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me months after it was published that I realized Darrak and I are quite similar in certain areas. We’re both quite shy and are loners, preferring to spend time alone reading than going out with a huge group of people.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Yes I have, I think every writer does to some degree at some point throughout their career. I am lucky in the fact that I’m simultaneously writing/publishing three different series as well as unrelated short stories. If I’m having trouble with one project, I switch to another one which helps me keep my mind focused on writing and lets me take a break from the one I was experiencing difficulty with. Also, I don’t shy away from having a beer or two to relax me and help me not fuss over details, especially on a first draft. I’m a perfectionist and even though I know I shouldn’t on a first draft, it’s hard for me not to go over a line until it sounds perfect. [I like your approach!]
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Probably action/adventure. I tend to include a good bit of that in my fantasy writing, so I suppose I’d just have to get rid of the magic and be more factual!
Which authors inspire you? Terry Brooks, first and foremost. Other fantasy authors which have inspired me are Juliet Marillier, Brian Jacques, Mercedes Lackey, and Jonathan Stroud.
What novel would you read multiple times? The only book that has ever made me cry: Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? Elijah Wood. I’ve always admired his acting and how he’s somehow managed to avoid typical Hollywood scandals. He seems so genuine and sincere and I love the fact that he’s now branching out into DJ’ing with Wooden Wisdom.
What is your favorite quote? “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room is the greatest arsenal we could have.” -Doctor Who [Outstanding!]
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? The Guardians (lions) from my book Silevethiel. They differ from real lions in the fact that they can wield magic. They can speak telepathically with their elf Protectors and will die defending them. They’re extremely loyal and wise, knowing details far back into elvish history. But they each have distinct personalities that usually reflect those of the elf counterparts. [Cool lions!]
What is your favorite color? Green
When you’re not writing…. She’s always writing. She’s a full-time writer!
You can catch up with Andi online…
Andi’s latest short story, Reclamation, comes out October 26th.
This was a lot of fun! Good luck writing your sequel.
Thank you so much for being a part of my Center Stage Moment! Join me next week as I feature author Riley Edgewood!