Author Interview – S.D. O’Donell

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” Harlan Ellison

I value few things more than education (self education is fine, I’m not stuck on education having to be formal) combined with reasoning, all served up with an open mind. Our house is a gathering place for many types of people and they all come with strong opinions. Many hours have been spent on my deck or around my table discussing everything from politics to the best way to prune trees. Any belief or argument is welcome, as long it is informed.

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.

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.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Tightening the words. I bet I wrote at over five hundred pages that were cut out, sometimes by the page and sometimes by the word. Especially with a thriller, this process is essential to create the right pace. I love the end result, the recognition that if you cut this and then that, you make the same point but even better, even stronger. However, the actual work required to get there is hard, both on the ego and the mind.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently busy on my second novel, Deadly Bayou. The characters in Deadly Memories, Saul and Jayne, have a lot to work out, both together and alone. A large part of that need for Jayne centers on a recurring dream she has about a road stretching across a bayou.

Can you tell us about your main character?
Deadly Memories has two main characters: Saul Becker and Jayne Doe. Saul is a loner ex-detective and Jayne is a catatonic, then amnesiac, woman that comes into his life. The story is told from both points-of-view. I know I’ve done something unusual in writing from a male point of view but believe I’m well-qualified. My house is the gathering grounds for my former-Special Forces husband and his contingent of buddies (mostly also former military). I provide them food and drink, all the while observing what I consider my private laboratory of male behavior.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?
I needed to get the story out and I wanted to write a book that showed how a person heals psychologically. Since I also wanted to keep a thriller pacing, I eventually realized it would take multiple books to follow the character arc I had in mind.

How important do you think villains are in a story?
Since I’m writing mystery/thrillers, I think they are as essential as the hero. One reviewer on Amazon called my villain gruesome. I took that as a great compliment.

What are your goals as a writer?

I want to complete the four books I have in mind about Saul and Jayne, write some short stories at the same time, and then do something different enough to challenge myself and my readers.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
I’m reading Lisa Gardners’ new book Touch and Go. She’s one of my “old standby” authors.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
It is hard getting word out beyond your immediate circle of friends and family that there’s a good book waiting to entertain you. Please read Deadly Memories and let everyone you know what you think of it.

Connect with S.D. O’Donell:
Who is the beautiful Jayne Doe? And why does someone want to kill her? Ex-detective Saul Becker learned the hard way not to get involved in the troubles of beautiful women. But what else can he do when a barefoot, catatonic Jayne Doe turns up practically in his backyard? Who is she, and what is she so afraid of? Jayne Doe doesn't remember anything about her life before she crawled into a hollow tree at the lake next to Saul's home. All she knows is that she's afraid of something-or someone. Together, Saul and Jayne set out to uncover her past. But they are in more danger than they know, and it will take all of Saul's skill and training to track down the past that's stalking them.

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