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Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Friday, August 23, 2013

Author Interview – S.D. O’Donell

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I grew up with books and music. Going to the book store was considered an exciting family outing. We still do it, even with the onset of electronic books. My husband and I own around 15,000 books (not counting what’s on my Kindle). At one time, late in my high school years, our television broke. We didn’t fix it. Why bother, we had books to read, gardens to tend, music to play. Being around books so much of my life, and having an always-active imagination that needed an outlet, writing seemed like a natural choice of profession.

When and why did you begin writing? I started keeping journals as soon as I knew how to write. They were just “this is what I did today” until, as a teenage, I read The Diary of Anne Frank. I was both touched and inspired by the honesty and passion of the feelings she described. After that, I started sharing all of my innermost thoughts and emotions in my journals. That turned into writing stories and poems. That turned into a formal study of the craft of writing. After college, I moved further and further away from the creative aspect of story telling but kept working with words in other ways. Deadly Memories is my debut work of full-length fiction and a return to my roots.

How long have you been writing? All of my life. In addition to the journals, I wrote a play when I was 11 and directed it for my class (with class members as the actors). I worked on the high school newspaper and literary publication. I created a blog-like piece long before anyone knew about the internet, much less the word blog. Several times a week in study hall, I’d write a humorous take on what was happening at school and hand it off to a friend. It was then passed around and shared from person to person, often ending up in the hands of people I didn’t even know. I wrote and published short stories and poetry in college. And I have worked as a full-time free-lance writer, technical writer, and multi-media script writer over the course of my career.

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.

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Genre – Murder / Thriller

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

More details about the author & the book

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