Author Interview: Andi O’Connor

Andi O'ConnorAndi O’Connor is the author of fantasy novel ‘The Lost Heir’, book one of the Dragonath Chronicles. It can be found on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for ‘The Lost Heir’?

The idea for ‘The Lost Heir’ came from my fascination with space and what it would be like to suddenly find yourself in another world similar to Earth, yet different enough for the protagonist to need to adapt. In some ways, the countries on Dragonath are more advanced than our first-world countries here on Earth, yet in some ways they’re extremely far behind and don’t have many of our modern conveniences. I really wanted to explore the difficulties someone would face. Not only is Darrak a stranger and outsider who must learn the ways of his new world, but he must also convince the people of Dragonath that he can be trusted.

Who is your favorite character?

I think my answer to this changes every time I’m asked this question!

For now, I’m going to have to say my favorite character is Mionee. She’s the main antagonist in ‘The Lost Heir’ but I wrote her in a way that is a bit different from most we see in fantasy. Instead of making her a blanket ‘bad guy’ I dug down into the reasons WHY she does what she does. She also evolves greatly because of events that occur to her and around her. Through that, I raise the question of how many good deeds does someone need to do to negate one bad deed they performed in the past. Can someone truly repent or will they always be remembered and hated for one atrocious act they committed?

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Some of Darrak’s characteristics come from my husband’s college days as well as myself. I draw a great deal of characteristics from life experiences and people I’ve met, but I’ve never exclusively based a character on a real person.

Describe your writing process.

I’m definitely a pantster! I don’t outline or even plan out my story in any way. An initial idea pops into my head and I just start writing! Many times, I don’t even know where the story is going to end, and I never have any idea where it’s going to take me or how it’s going to develop. I let the characters and events carry me through.

That being said, I do take notes as I write to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies within the story itself or between different books in a series. If I get an idea when I’m writing, I do write it down, but I don’t hold myself to it. Sometimes I’ll come up with something different or my characters will take me in a completely separate direction!

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

Terry Brooks is the author who has influenced me the most. He was my first introduction into the fantasy genre when my mom bought me his entire ‘Shannara’ series at Goodwill when I was 12, and he still remains my favorite author! What I really got from him was the realization to not limit myself within the common tropes of the genre. I allow myself to push The Lost Heirboundaries and write about topics that perhaps make people uncomfortable. I write to entertain, but I also write to make my readers think.

Ignoring an issue and pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. Rape exists. We don’t want it to, but it does. It’s a cold, hard fact. Perhaps my character contemplating the time she was raped and learning to not let it control her life or define who she is will help some of my readers who experienced the same thing. Maybe, just maybe, it will help someone who DID rape someone else see their victim as a person and realize what their actions actually did, not just physically, but mentally.

Reading Terry Brooks and witnessing how real his characters are helped me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to write about something because it might offend someone. There will always be someone who’s offended. And honestly, that’s not the end of the world. Talking about something is what brings about change. Ignoring it allows it to happen again.

What made you want to become an author?

I actually can’t say I ever had a moment where I decided I wanted to become an author. I had started writing ‘The Lost Heir’ during college just as something fun to do. I went back and forth, sometimes not touching it for months or years at a time. When my mom died in 2011, I decided to sit my ass in the chair and finish it in her memory. Once I did that I thought I might as well look to get it published. It was accepted by a small press and the rest is history!

Since its release in 2013, ‘The Lost Heir’ was recommended by the US Review of Books, and one of my short stories, ‘Redemption’ was a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist. My novel ‘Silevethiel’ is the 2015 Best Indie Book Award winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013, so I guess it was good I decided to plant my ass in the chair and finish my first book!

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Stick with what works for you. Take others’ advice as simply that, advice. If you try it and it doesn’t work, don’t fret over it. Just because something worked for George R. R. Martin or J. K. Rowling doesn’t mean it will work for you, and don’t try to force it!

Be yourself. Write from your heart. Always strive to put your best work before the public. Hire a professional editor and don’t be afraid to take their suggestions. Sometimes the hardest thing about being an author is admitting you missed something or should have expanded/explained a situation or character better.

But the hardest thing? Not letting yourself get discouraged by that first (or subsequent) 1 star review. Everyone gets them, no matter what. It’s a part of being an author. Read it. Learn from it. If they give constructive suggestions, remember them in your future writing. But most of all, realize that you can’t please everyone, nor can you take everyone’s advice. Take the 1-star review for what it is and move on. Remember that if you bow to everyone’s suggestions and try to please every reader, not only is it impossible, but you’ll no longer be writing as you.

Best of luck in your endeavors and always remember to #embraceyourcrazy!

Thank you Andi!! Readers, watch for my review of ‘The Lost Heir’ coming soon!

Book the author on Book Club Reading List

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