Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Olivia: I think I first realized I wanted to write when I started blogging about 3 years ago. I mostly post pictures of pretty things and stories about my kids but I always got a great response to my “personal essay” posts. That’s when I really started loving to write again.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Olivia: I always did well in English & even won some awards for my creative writing in high school but my main focus then was photography. After I got into college and realized photography wasn’t what I wanted to do for a job I actually graduated in Art History & Curatorial Studies(which I still LOVE). Other than taking a couple community education writing classes and a few small writing conferences, all my other writing education has come from reading books I love & non-fiction about writing (I love Stephen Kings ‘On Writing’ & Orson Scott Card’s ‘Writing Science-Fiction and Fantasy’).
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Olivia: I think just act of storytelling. No matter how fantastical a story is there is always a basis in reality that makes it relatable. I love it when I hear someone say “I’ve totally felt that way before!”
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents do you have?
Olivia: Writing seems to overtake my life these days, but I think I’m a pretty fun mom. Having kids has given me the chance to be the kid outside that I’ve always been inside. I also still enjoy fine arts photography and I dabble in sewing. Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Olivia: Since I’m a stay-at-home mom there are moments in the day that I can write- rest time, sometimes if they have friends over, times like that. But there’s usually something else to do too so I usually wait until the kids are in bed & I’ve spent time with my husband, then while he’s working on the computer next to me, I write. I also write after everyone is in bed. Sometimes I even get brave & wake up before anyone wakes up. Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it? Olivia: Oh man, I’m one of those people that is OVERLOADED with ideas. Not that all of them are great or anything but even as I’m dedicated to a book, a new “muse” for a different story pops up & I feel like I want to run with that one. As for whether or not its good enough to write a book about, I usually talk it out with my husband and close friends, see what they think, and then I figure I won’t know unless I try.
Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Olivia: I think being a mom there isn’t much that is just yours. Your kids eat food off your plate, wear your expensive high heels for dress up, even follow you in the bathroom. When I started writing I had a “terrible” two year old and a WORSE three year old. I think writing became an escape of sorts. It was one thing that was just mine.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Olivia: I mostly want to entertain. I brush on some hard topics when I write but I try to stay away from being too heavy handed (though there is a place for that too). I just like to make people laugh & escape from reality for a little bit.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first? Olivia: Oh man, I wish I could outline! My life would be SO MUCH easier if I could outline! Alas, I’m a “by the seat of my pants” kind of writer. I tend to follow the story around for a bit. But after a couple failed attempts with NO PLOT AT ALL, I finally planned a little and that helped but the story just kind of has a life of its own for me. Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it? Olivia: Ewwww… yes. I do get writers block. A lot of times it has to do with what I mentioned earlier a new “totally-awesome-this-is-the-one” story idea pops up & I think the one I’m writing just sucks. It also has to do with not planning out enough. Mostly I have to just write though it. I’ll write crap if I have to, as long as I stick with the story. I also talk the problem out with my writing group. They’ve saved me more than once from hitting the delete key. Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing? Olivia: You know, it depends on the story. I tend to need music to get me in the mood to write. I have a playlist on my ipod called WRITING MUSIC. I often times listen to that to get pumped up. Then I like quiet, but I usually don’t get it.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer? Olivia: My husband hands down. If it weren’t for his support then I’d never be able to write. He lets me leave for hours to go write at the library & then again to go to writing group. He refuses to let me watch a show with him until I’ve hit my word count for the day. He lets me cry and freak out and never once has said, “Hey, maybe don’t write anymore. It makes you crazy!”
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Olivia: Humm… interesting question. I love eccentric characters, so the people in my book tend to be a little larger than life. I have an eccentric family, friends with distinctive personalities, and I think that bleeds into my characters a bit. Some characters are more alive than others for me. Some I can hear talking in my head and I’m just typing to keep up with what they’re saying/doing.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Olivia: Probably M&M’s they are quick to pop in my mouth, not messy, addictive, & so tasty but after my first year of writing and gaining weight I switched to water or peppermint herbal tea.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Olivia: I haven’t been published yet but I can say that my writing shot to a whole new level when I got into a writing group. I didn’t really take my stories seriously let alone getting published until I started meeting with the driven talented girls I write with. It changed the way I think about my writing and got me a lot more serious.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Olivia: I’m about 8,000 words or so from “The End” of a YA urban fantasy I’ve been working on & it’s the first manuscript that I feel is any good. I’ve been writing a good chunk of 2 others when I’m blocked, and finished one atrocious book about werewolves (that will hopefully never see the light of day). But this one I’m almost done with, is the first story I feel serious about and will dive into revising as soon as it’s done.
Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Olivia: Self doubt. Somedays it’s pretty rough. I think “Why do I do this to myself?” but I love it so much that no matter how hard those times are I keep writing. It’s a part of me now. Once you start writing and love it, there’s no going back.
Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?
Olivia: SO MANY THINGS! My favorite is watching people read a chapter and seeing their reactions. Laughing, gasping, smiling. I just love being able to elicit a reaction. I also love those moments of clarity where you are typing as fast as you can to keep up with a scene that just clicks. Then you go back and read what you’re written is actually kinda brilliant. It doesn’t happen often but it’s an addictive feeling.
Deirdra: What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
Olivia: Wow, three years?!? I’m not great at looking past tomorrow. I’d say I’m planning on finishing the first draft of the story I’m almost done with by the end of February. I’ll start revising (there is A LOT to do) and then pass it along to my writer’s group & my beta readers. While they are reading/revising/absolutely-tearing-the-thing-apart I’ll start writing something new. I’d like to start querying agents by the end of the year.
Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?
Olivia: I mostly write the office. My husband & I share a small room in the basement. We both have desks down there and our computers set up next to each other so even if I’m on a big writing jag for hours we can still sit next to each other and chat. But I also really like writing during the off-peak hours at a McDonalds playplace, especially in the winter. That way my kids can run around and play, I can keep an eye on them, and I can get some writing done.
Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names?
Olivia: Coming up with characters names can be hard for me. Sometimes characters just appear in my brain complete with name, other times I leave a blank spot until I decide what the name is. I tend towards names that can be shorted into a nickname. Not always, but I steer toward those.
Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?
Olivia: That they loved and cared about my characters. Characters and dialogue are the parts that I love in books so it makes me feel elated when someone feels that way about characters I’ve written. Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share? Olivia: I’ve heard a lot of people say to me, “I wish I had time to write, but I’m just too busy”. I say, if you really want something, anything is life bad enough, you make it a priority. You sit your butt down and start.