Andi O’Connor is the author of the fantasy series The Dragonath Chronicles and the YA series, The Vaelinel Trilogy as well as several short stories including the critically acclaimed Redemption. Andi’s first YA novel, Silevethiel, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013. She is a member of the National Writers Association and the Boston Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and four dogs.
What inspires you to write?
The short answer is anything and everything!
The long answer is that my initial inspiration to begin writing stemmed from my love of books. I’ve always been a huge reader and preferred to stay inside to read rather than going outside to play. As a kid, I was creative with an over-active imagination and never quite seemed to grow out of the make-believe stage. My mind is always active, dreaming up worlds, characters, scenarios, etc.
For me, inspiration really does come from everywhere. I’m rather quiet and shy and prefer to observe rather than participate. I’m perfectly content watching, taking things in, and although I don’t make a conscious effort to use something for inspiration, I notice things surface when I write. It continues to amaze me what can spark an idea; be it someone’s mannerisms, a word or phrase, something on the news, or the color of the curtains in my office….which are lilac by the way 🙂
Tell us about your writing process.
I am most definitely a seat of the pants writer. Once I get my initial idea, I don’t outline or plan anything. I do jot down notes so I can make sure descriptions/timing/etc. remains consistent throughout the book/trilogy. I don’t like the restriction of an outline and prefer to let my characters take me through the story, letting them develop and evolve as events unfold. Many ideas come to me as I’m writing based on the characters’ actions/dialogue – one thing leading to another. Every single time I go to do the first round of edits (regardless of the book) I think to myself, ‘Wow! That’s awesome! How did I come up with that?’ I know there’s no way I’d be able to think of or plan any of that ahead of time. It’s actually quite funny because my husband always says he can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I always tell him I can’t wait either!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I certainly listen to my characters! They each have a voice in my head and I listen to everything they tell me. As I mentioned above, that is how I write, letting them guide me through, so I never put myself in their situation or ask what I would do or how I would react. Although I know a bit of my personality finds its way into some of my characters, I want everything to come from them as much as possible – not from me.
Who are your favorite authors?
As you might guess, I read mostly fantasy. The author who’s been my absolute favorite for decades is Terry Brooks. I have definitely been known to stay up reading his books all through the night. He’s also the only author I’ve read where I was able to connect so deeply to the characters, I actually cried. His upcoming book, ‘The High Druid’s Blade’ was originally supposed to be released on my birthday (best present ever!) then it got pushed back to July and my world just about ended. I can’t even begin to describe the trauma!
He’s actually my greatest inspiration, though funnily enough my work has never been compared to his. Instead, I frequently get compared to Tolkien and George R. R. Martin, which I find interesting because I’m not a fan of Tolkien’s writing (please don’t hit me with a stick!) and I’ve never read Martin. *hangs my head in shame*
It’s hard to single out a few of Terry’s books that I’ve read through the night as all of them probably fit into that category. But I would have to say The Dark Legacy of Shannara series is one of my favorites, particularly the third book, Witch Wraith. I also loved the Genesis of Shannara and Legends of Shannara series.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, The Lost Heir, was published through a small press, but as I’ll explain in a minute, I decided to delve into self-publishing for Silevethiel and Redemption. Self-publishing fits my personality better, and unless something drastic happens, it’s what I’m going to stick with. I’m rather a control freak and, like any author, have a particular vision for how I want my finished book to read, look, and feel. When working with a publisher, most of that was lost. I also noticed that I still did a lot myself when working with the publisher, especially in regards to promotion, and I decided that if I was going to do it myself anyway, I would self-publish and have the finished result be what I wanted.
That being said, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an editor, designer, or artist. (I can’t even draw stick figures.) So, I do hire others and listen to their feedback and suggestions to create a finished product that’s both professional and as close to my vision as possible. While I’ll never be able to retain 100% of my vision, I like that self-publishing grants me the ability to create a book as close to my original idea as possible. It’s certainly time-consuming and costly, and there are days when I hit the Jameson a bit earlier than I probably should, but I love it!
If you are a new author, do some research on both sides, and decide which would be better suited to your personality. If you are considering self-publishing, work with an editor and professional cover designer. I simply cannot stress that enough. In order to attract readers and create a fan base wanting to buy future works, your finished book needs to look professional and read smoothly. People will easily pick out developmental/plot holes as well as proofreading errors. Some mistakes slip through, even with major traditional publishing houses, but it needs to be as flawless as you can make it.
I would also highly recommend publishing both eBook and print. While it’s easier and more cost effective so only publish an eBook, many people still purchase print. In fact, I’ve noticed that Silevethiel’s sales are higher in print than eBook… and it’s in hardback, not paperback. People still like their books. And again, it goes along with the professionalism angle. The only works I’m not publishing in print are my individual short stories like Redemption. But, once the series is complete, they will be released in print as an anthology.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the publishing world is going to go more and more towards self-publishing. But although I believe that’s the case, I don’t think it’s going to get easier for self-published authors to overcome the stigma of our works being inferior. The fact remains that there are no regulations or filters for self-publishing. For each author who works with a professional editor/designer/formatter, there will be at least one who doesn’t. Because of that, the belief that an author chose to self-publish because they weren’t good enough to be accepted by a traditional publisher will remain, regardless of their reasons.
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Epic/High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Short Stories
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print