I am honored to host an author friend, Anne O'Connell today.
Welcome, Anne, Please tell us a little about yourself and how you first got interested in writing.
First, I’d like to thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I’m excited about our blog swap today and encourage your readers to also pop over to mine and get to know more about you as well. As for me, I’m a Canadian who doesn’t like being cold, so left Canada in 1993 to live in Florida. Since then I have lived in Dubai and am now happily writing away in Thailand. I have been writing since I was a kid, starting with silly poems among friends and graduating to journals and trip diaries. I spent 17 years in PR where I wrote everything from press releases and feature articles to grant proposals and scripts for educational television. I went freelance when I moved to Dubai in 2007 and it was during this time I wrote my first book, that was published by Summertime Publishing in the UK. I realized then that I enjoyed the process of writing a full-length book and started exploring the self-publishing realm. My first self-published book was an e-book called that pulled advice from many years of media relations experience.
At that point I hadn’t written much fiction, just a few short stories for a creative writing course I took in university but it was playing at the back of my mind. Then I started having serious peri-menopausal symptoms. One sleepless night as I lay in a pool of sweat I gave up trying to sleep, got up, sat in front of my computer and started describing what a night sweat felt like. It expanded from there and turned into the (private) mad ramblings of a peri-menopausal woman and then into my first novel, (which actually won an IPPY Award). The floodgates opened and I’m about to finish my second novel and have the third one outlined and ready to start writing. I also still do some copy writing and social media consulting and now mentor other authors.
What do you find most exciting about being an author?And what is your greatest challenge?
What I find most exciting about being an author is watching the words flow from my fingers and onto the screen and seeing characters come alive and watching the plot unfold. Even though I have the basic plotline in my head, there are always a few surprises that crop up while I’m writing. When I’m really ‘in the zone’ I even dream about my characters and in my dreams often come the best plot twists. My greatest challenge is to keep the distractions to a minimum and to carve out time to work on my books. It’s hard for me to force creativity so if I block from 9-11 every morning to work on my latest novel, sometimes I find it hard to keep my mind from wandering to the client work that’s waiting in the wings. But, that’s a good problem to have and there are many ways to gently guide my ‘monkey-mind’ back to the fictional world I’m creating. And, as a self-published author, I make my own deadlines.
Who are your favorite authors and why?(2-3)
That’s a tough one, especially since lately I’ve been reading a lot of other self-published authors and ignoring some of my all-time favorites. One of my favorite authors is PD James because I love a murder mystery that drags you in and saturates you with fully developed characters that you get to know intimately. My favorite self-published author who has become hugely popular is CJ Lyons. She was an emergency room surgeon who quit her job to become a novelist. You can imagine the fodder she has for endless storylines. I also read historical fiction so have devoured all of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (many years ago before it became a hit series) and I also love Wilbur Smith.
Summarize your driving passion and how you see your writing as the best vehicle to help make the world a better place.
I guess if I had to define my driving passion it would be to help others. I’m a habitual volunteer and my activities usually revolve around children and at-risk youth.I use my writing skills and teaching background to mentor other writers (I was a preschool teacher before I got into PR) and as far as my actual writing goes, something PD James said in an interview with The Telegraph really resonated with me. She says it’s important for her as a writer “to say something true about men and women and the society in which they live.” Simple, yet powerful. I’m seeing a common theme in my novels start to emerge of women with an inner strength they don’t know they have and through some type of challenge come to a realization that they can stand on their own two feet.
If you could spend one day with someone currently alive or from the past, who would that be and why? What would you like to ask them?
I would love to have spent a day with Mother Theresa to see the effects of her healing touch. I would ask her who was the most memorable person in her life, what her mother was like and what her favorite book was (other than the bible, of course). I would also ask her what her thoughts were on how we can bring peace to this world.
What is the most important idea or principle you would like your readers to remember from your book?
I’d like readers to come away with the belief that strength and support comes from the most unexpected places and that even in the darkest moments of despair, if you dig down deep, you can find an inner strength you never knew you had. I know that’s not a new theme but it’s one I find inspiring in others’ writings and that I remind myself of every day.