Friday, August 14, 2015

Author Interview: Andi O'Conner

I have a special treat for you all.  I recently had the honor of conducting a small interview with Andi O'Conner, author of The Dragonath Chronicles (so far two volumes).  Along with the Dragonath Chronicles, Andi has also written the Legacy of Ilvania (short story {2 volumes}), and The Vaelinel Triology (So far one book).  Andi is exceptionally talented and I am so very excited to share her interview. 
 
 Where did you get the inspiration for your novel?  

The inspiration I get for my writing comes from life. I know it sounds like such a simple answer and kind of a cheat, but it's true. Even though I write fantasy, a lot more can be taken from real life events and issues than most people think. In order for fantasy to be relatable and resonate with your readers, it needs to be real. Characters need to experience real emotions, issues, and situations. I've included things such as abortion, discrimination, religion, epidemics, rape, and spousal abuse in my books. Of course, the topics I write about fit within the realm of the world and story I'm building, but my readers can easily relate to the characters and events.

As far as inspiration for plots and characters, all I can say is that my brain works in mysterious ways. I can't really say where any ideas come from. People think I'm lying when I say things just pop into my head, but it's true! I recently got the entire plot for a short story because I decided I wanted to write about an assassin. That got my brain spiraling off and some really neat twists on the typical assassin were born. The best answer I can give is that I'm exceptionally creative and quite content to sit back and observe.


Who designed the cover?

The cover for Awakening was designed by Damonza.com. I had used them for my short story Redemption and they did such a great job I decided to stick with them. I gave them the idea I had for the sword and kraylock (the red and black sphere) and they designed such a brilliant cover! It's eye-catching and perfectly captures the feel of the book. It's mysterious in the fact that it makes people want to know about the sword and kraylock and what they have to do with the title. It also captures the darker feelings and themes of the book
 
Can you walk me through your writing process?

My writing process is extremely unstructured. I don't outline. I don't write out the plot line from beginning to end. I don't have a list of characters who will be in the book.

When I begin a new work, I have the most basic of an idea, and I just start writing. I let the characters and events tell me what to write. I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the book when I begin. I don't know what a certain character is going to be like, though I know they most likely won't be the same as they were at the beginning. I am a firm believer in letting my characters and imagination carry me through. I let my characters evolve and react to situations in their own ways, and I can't know what that will be until they get there. I have come up with so many ideas half-way through a book that I know I wouldn't have thought of if I'd written an outline and planned out the plot and story arc. Many people ask me what happens next, and I honestly can't tell them. I'll find out what happens pretty much around the same time as they will.

I'll take notes to make sure I'm consistent between different books or short stories in a series, but I refuse to outline. It's too restrictive and won't give my characters enough freedom to learn from their experiences and evolve into (hopefully) better people.


How did you come up with the title?

The title Awakening comes from a few events that happen throughout the book which center around the theme of an awakening. A spirit is awakened and returns to Dragonath. After Darrak, the protagonist, is betrayed, a strength and resolve he didn't know he had awakens within him. Dragons, who were thought to be a myth, appear to lend their aid, so there is a sense of awakening there as well. The theme of awakening also appears in other ways, but I don't want to spoil everything!

What authors have inspired you? And in what ways?

My biggest inspiration has been Terry Brooks. He was my first major foray into the fantasy genre, and I was immediately drawn into the world he created. His Shannara series introduced me into how real and relatable make-believe can be. The complexity of his magical objects (the elfstones) was fascinating, and I began to realize how intriguing and interesting fantasy can be. It doesn't have to be just mindless entertainment. It can be extremely thought-provoking as well as being fun. To this day, the only time I've cried while reading a book is reading one of his works.

The other major author that has inspired me is Tolkien, though not in the way you may think. He taught me what not to do. The world building is very descriptive and well thought out, but there's no connection with the characters. He didn't bring any emotion to me as a reader. He created this beautifully detailed world, but then left all these holes in the plot. He constructs this supposedly horrifically powerful magic ring, but then doesn't show his readers WHY it's powerful. There's all this magic in the world - wizards, magic rings, elvish magic - yet it's never used or explained. His battles are almost non-existent and honestly quite unbelievable. If this one ring is as powerful and coveted as it's supposed to be, the conflicts and battles over winning its possession would be much more epic. Many people love his work, and he's kind of seen as the god of fantasy, but for me he's served as an example of things to avoid doing. Or better put, things to make sure I include in my writing.


What is it about a particular genre that draws you in?  Would you say you typically stay within a chosen genre or do you experiment?

I love fantasy because it serves as an escape to another world, yet at the same time it's extremely relatable. I think the major draw of fantasy is the belief that it could be real-that it could exist. When characters and worlds are created well, the reader not only feels like they're there, but they feel like it's real. I mean honestly, how awesome would it be if magic existed? What if there really were elfstones or kraylocks or magic rings? It's intriguing. It's exciting. And who knows...it could actually exist.

I stay within the same genre. Fantasy is what excites me and intrigues me the most, and what I feel is most in tune with my brain. :) That's not to say I'm not opposed to trying something new, and I may if an idea pops into my head, but for now I'm sticking with fantasy, particularly dark fantasy.

With so many books being made into movies, what actors to you see staring as your characters?

This is such a fun question! I actually haven't thought about this before (and I hardly ever watch movies) so I had to do some research! Here we go:

Darrak - Elijah Wood
Andillrian - Emma Watson
Anarra - Dakota Fanning
Mionee - Natalie Portman
Ipzaag - Matthew Lewis
Garenth - Colin Farrell
Captain Rorend - Luke Evans
Biran/Payton Niemel - Bryan Cranston
Detaldin - Aiden Turner


How do you think your specific genre has influenced pop culture?

There has been a definite increase in fantasy/sci-fi movies and a renewed interest in the genre. I think the pop culture and literary culture have sort of fed off one another. Tolkien has such a huge fan base and the books were what inspired the movies. But the movies created a buzz and helped bring a lot more fans to the world of fantasy. I think that helped people see that fantasy can and should be taken seriously and more authors began to write in the genre. Many series and authors became extremely popular and again, influenced movies which have continued to bring in new fans of the genre. Because of both the literary and pop cultures, fantasy is no longer seen as only for 'nerds'. It's something everyone of all ages can enjoy and relate to.

Each one of Andi's books seem so fascinating.  Unfortunately I have not had the honor of reading any of her books, yet, but they are on my list of To Read.  Be sure to keep checking back for a review of any one of her books, I am sure I will devour each one. 

For more about Andi visit her site here. Or you can follow her on goodreads.


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