INTERVIEW WITH 'CALL TO WAR' ANDI O'CONNOR @oconnerandi



Andi O'Connor is the award-winning author The Dragonath Chronicles, The Vaelinel Trilogy, and The Legacy of Ilvania. She’s written multiple books, including the critically acclaimed Silevethiel, which is the 2015 Best Indie Book Award winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy, and the 2015 New Apple Official Selection for Young Adult. Silevethiel was also named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013. Andi's short story collection, Redemption, is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semifinalist.

You can frequently find Andi as a ​guest panelist at Comic Cons throughout the country including the Rhode Island Comic Con, Philcon, Conclave, WizardWorld, and Chessiecon. Andi also writes for Niume where she provides writing tips, advice, and insight on her career as an author. You can connect with Andi on
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information, visit Andi’s website.

About the Book:

Title: CALL TO WAR
Author: Andi O’Connor
Publisher: Purple Sun Press
Pages: 258
Genre: Fantasy

Darrak's adventure concludes with this thrilling finale of The Dragonath Chronicles!  

Following the betrayal of two of his trusted companions and a devastating battle in Mystandia, Darrak's talents are desperately needed by the citizens of both Earth and Dragonath. Torn with the decision of where his loyalty should remain, he finally decides to confide in Andillrian. Together, they craft a plan they hope will save Darrak's home planet, but their optimism is short-lived.

The Hellborn's army has begun the march to war.

With less than two weeks of preparation remaining, their weaknesses become unavoidably apparent. Planning for defeat suddenly becomes as important as planning for victory. Darrak's insecurities continue until the moment the first arrows begin to fly. He can only hope that help from a few unlikely sources will be enough.

For if they fail, Dragonath will fall.

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What’s inside the mind of a fantasy author?
           
First of all, I want to thank Nuttin’ But books for having me! Let’s see, what’s inside the mind of a fantasy author? Well, just about anything and everything you could imagine! Seriously! I’m constantly thinking of ways to create new twists on commonly used fantasy elements such as magic systems, dragons, and shapeshifters. I think about staging battles, what attacks I can create within the magic system, and what weapons and battle techniques to incorporate. My mind is swimming with characters – their backgrounds, current situations, and future dreams. I think of ways to build my worlds and how I can make them unique from other fantasy worlds already created.
           
I always include current topics and issues from our world in my writing, many of them controversial, so I always have news events and stories running through my head. I think about deadlines and how I’m going to write the next scene, chapter, or book. I always have ideas for ways to reach new readers and how I can build the relationship I already have with my existing fans. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, I think about ways to inspire my fans to be comfortable being themselves and embrace their crazy!

What is so great about being an author?
           
Touching people in ways I never thought possible. It’s truly incredible to me that my books have helped people get through some of the most difficult times in their lives, and it’s the most rewarding feeling imaginable.

I had one reader write to me saying she had cancer. What got her through her chemotherapy sessions was visualizing my elf city of Silverden from Silevethiel. Every time she went in for treatment, she would picture herself in the world I’d created, and it would help to calm her enough so she could forget where she was and why she was there.
           
Another woman told me that the relationship between Irewen (a human) and Silevethiel (a lion) perfectly captured the love and friendship she had with her cat. Re-reading scenes from Silevethiel helped her recapture the memory of that bond after her pet’s death.
           
Hearing such personal stories of how my work has affected people and brought hope into their lives makes being an author tremendously worthwhile. They vanquish all of the frustrations that come with the job and are what make being an author amazing. They’re why I’ll continue to write until my last breath.

When do you hate it?
           
There’s nothing I particularly hate about being an author, though there certainly are extremely frustrating times. I think I’ve sworn the most when dealing with people hired to do the covers and formatting. I went back and forth with the formatter for The Speaker nine times before they got it right. There was an extremely feisty Andi for quite a few weeks!
           
One of the things I dislike the most is when people don’t take me and my work seriously, either because my books are fantasy or because they’re self-published. My books don’t fit in the stereotypical definitions or views of either category. Read first. Then judge.

What is a regular writing day like for you?
           
Writing is what I do full time, and I’ll usually start about 7am and go to 5 or 6pm. Many days I’ll work again at night after dinner. On a typical day, I deal with promotional and administrative issues in the morning. This is when I reply to emails, write/schedule blog posts, answer interviews, schedule appearances, organize social media posts to the day, and reply to any online messages. This is also when I’ll take care of any inventory and accounting issues that need attention (usually after a comic con, signing, or event) and prepare for any upcoming events. The afternoon and evening is set aside for writing or editing, depending on what project I’m working on and the stage it’s in.

How do you handle negative reviews?
           
I’m going to be rather blunt here: There’s nothing to handle.
           
I don’t mean that I don’t get negative reviews. I mean that it’s not something I see as a major emotional crisis that needs to be handled. All authors get bad reviews. No one is immune. They happen, and honestly, they should happen. Bad reviews bring legitimacy to a book’s quality and speak to the honesty of the rest of the reviews which are glowing.
           
Everyone is different. No two people are going to like a book for all of the exact same reasons. What someone loves about a book might be the reason someone else hates it. It’s impossible for me, or any author, to appeal to everyone, nor should we try. I expect bad reviews, and I get them. Not many, but I get them. If the day should ever come when I have more negative reviews than positive, then that’ll be a situation that needs to be assessed and handled.

How do you handle positive reviews?
           
My answer for this is the same as the previous question. I don’t feel as though there’s anything to handle. Good reviews are obviously what every author strives for. We all want people to enjoy our work, and it’s wonderful to hear that someone enjoyed it enough to take the time to leave a review, but again, I don’t really see anything to handle other than being appreciative that my work spoke to someone in a positive way.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
           
I get two types of responses. People either think it’s really amazing and want to know everything about it, or they go ‘oh’ and shoot this expression at me like they’re above me because I don’t do anything other than eat chocolates and write silly meaningless stories all day.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
           
I try not to force it. On days like this, I’ll work more on the administrative and promotional tasks until my mind clears enough to write. For me, forcing myself to write when it doesn’t come easily only leads to increased frustration and even less productivity.

Any writing quirks?
           
I don’t know if this is really a quirk, but I always write everything out longhand before I type it up in Scrivener. To quote one of my dear fellow authors, D.L. Young, I’m so analog!
           
I also must, and I mean must, sharpen my pencils before throwing them away. There are absolutely no exceptions. Don’t judge.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
           
This actually has happened to me, particularly from some family and friends. It was insinuated by my father-in-law at one point that I don’t actually work. So, me being a stereotypical fiery Irish woman, I snapped back and told him that I do work. I put in more hours than he does at his 9 to 5, and I get paid to do it. His eyes widened in shock, and he tried to back-pedal and say that he meant it wasn’t really like work because I enjoyed it.
           
I think the issue is that most people don’t understand how much work is involved in being an author. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like much. I mean, you just write, right? But there’s the 3rd, 5th, 10th, drafts before even sending it to your editor, then multiple drafts once you get their edits back. There’s the formatting, the cover, the printing, the distribution, the marketing, the interviews, the personal appearances.
           
Most of the time, aside from the FIL incident, as it’s affectionately referred to, I just try to explain when someone doesn’t understand. More often than not, it opens up a really awesome conversation!

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?
           
Yes. There are days when I want to give up. I look at what I’ve just written and think it’s total drivel that was written by an unimaginative first grader. There’s times when I’ve re-written the same sentence fifteen times, and it still doesn’t sound right. There’s times when I read something from another author and think, ‘That’s what an author is. That’s powerful writing. My works are nowhere near as well-written or thought-provoking. I don’t deserve to be on a shelf with them.’ There have been many times where I wanted to give up and never write another word again. Then, I re-read one of my favorite scenes from one of my books, and I’m blown away by the writing, thinking it’s impossible that I’m the one who wrote it. I think of how many people my writing has spoken to and how many have enjoyed my works, and I keep on trucking.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
           
No. I personally feel that if anyone writes with the sole goal of becoming the next J.K. Rowling and making tons and tons (and tons) of money, don’t write. Success as an author is reaching people. It’s touching them, entertaining them, but making them think at the same time. It’s when readers put your book down and days or weeks later find it still refuses to let them go.

What has writing taught you?
           
I’ve learned so much from writing and pursuing a career as an author. It’s taught me to manage my time better and be more organized in order to set and meet deadlines. I’ve learned to not be afraid to try new things and take risks both in my personal life and in my writing. It’s also taught me to be more outspoken and break free from my shy, introverted self, which is an amazing feeling!

Leave us with some words of wisdom.
           
Don’t think of another author’s writing tips as a do or die system that everyone needs to follow. Tips are what work for that author. They may not work for you, and that’s fine. Certainly listen and gather ideas until you find what works best for you, but once you discover your system, don’t freak out if it’s completely different from what other authors advised you. . It needs to work for you, not them!

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