Monday, April 8, 2013

Author Interview – S.D. O’Donell

When did you first know you could be a writer? In junior high English class. We had an assignment to write an autobiography. I started with “I’ve led a boring and uneventful life.” From there, I wrote about my life, such as it was at the age of 13. When I got the paper back, I not only had an A+ but the teacher wrote, “Your life has been anything but boring. This was a great read!!!” I figured if I could turn my life into an interesting read, I must have some talent at storytelling. Put that together with my penchant for journaling and I haven’t stopped writing since.

What inspires you to write and why? I write because I have a story I can’t get out of my head, a point I’d like to make, or built-up emotions that need release. I’m happiest when all three of those come together in one narrative.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? My favorite kind of book to read is mystery/thriller, so that’s the kind of book I’ve written. My challenge is finding a balance between developing characters and keeping the story flowing at a thriller pace. Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, I think I met my goal. But I might decide to give my hand a try at something else latter on in my career, just to experience what it’s like to put a little more time into character-building.

What inspired you to write your first book? My husband and son had gone camping for the week, so I was home alone. I spent a lot of time reading and watching movies. At some point, all of the stories began to filter into my dreams and I woke up once with the picture of a catatonic woman, found in a park. The feelings and ideas of that dream never left me and they eventually became the cornerstone of my first novel, Deadly Memories.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? My husband, family, friends, and editor because they believed in me and in the story. What stronger influence can you have than support and encouragement?

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? All of the authors, good and bad, that I’ve finished over a lifetime of reading. While I’ve talked a lot about the fact that I read mystery/thrillers, I have read many of genres over time. I had a long period that I devoured science fiction, I have always enjoyed a good western, and I have read all of the books (and they can be many) in a large number of fantasy series. But most of all, I read what strikes me as good writing, regardless of formal genre definition. And everything I read influences me as a writer.

What made you want to be a writer? I have always had an overactive imagination and realized at a young age that I needed a way to let out all of the stories and ideas that crowded my head. In addition to writing, I studied performance arts and did a lot of acting up through college. I also studied music and dance. In the end, writing seemed a better fit with my introspective personality than performance arts.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Tightening the words. I bet I wrote at over five hundred pages that were cut out, sometimes by the page and sometimes by the word. Especially with a thriller, this process is essential to create the right pace. I love the end result, the recognition that if you cut this and then that, you make the same point but even better, even stronger. However, the actual work required to get there is hard, both on the ego and the mind.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Never give up. Never surrender. (quote from Galaxy Quest)

Do you intend to make writing a career? Absolutely. I’ve made my living writing non-fiction and now I’m ready to commit to what it takes to make it writing fiction.

Have you developed a specific writing style? One of the hardest challenges I faced when I started writing Deadly Memories was finding a writing style and a voice. I spent so many years away from creative writing while I worked in non-fiction that I lost whatever voice I had when younger. Plus, I’m certainly not the same person I was in college, so that would have been the wrong voice anyway. It was a struggle for me. I took a writer’s workshop to help and then worked with a wonderful editor, Renni Brown of The Editorial Department. She helped me consolidate the multiple voices I had scattered throughout the first draft of the novel into a single, appropriate style.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? My vivid imagination. And my ability to analyze and utilize edits. First of all, I’ve been writing professionally long enough to truly understand the value of a good editor and to have the self-confidence not to be ego invested in feedback.  But also, I am able to look at a comment and think “what they’re saying I should do isn’t exactly right but I can see that they’re pointing out a legitimate problem.” This allows me to come up with an even better way to address an issue.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Murder / Thriller

Rating – PG13 (some foul language, a few short love scenes)

More details about the author & the book

Connect with S.D. O’Donnell on Facebook & GoodReads

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