Author interview: Jed O’Dea
1. Why did you write your first book?
A friend and neighbor of mine was a physicist in the developmental stage of a “free energy” technology. He reached out to me for engineering and marketing support. He refused to approach the Department of Energy or energy producers for fear his new breakthrough discovery would be suppressed, buried forever, and that he would wind up with concrete boots at the bottom of the Potomac River. I thought that would be a good foundation of a good story.
2. What made you get into writing in the first place?
I spent most of my career writing boring non-fiction technical documents. I read mostly mystery/thrillers as an escape. I thought writing fiction would be a lot of fun.
3. What is your writing style?
I enjoy mixing facts with fiction such that the reader has difficulty knowing which is which. I like to write with multiple simultaneous plots that merge at the end of the thriller. Most of my novels have short chapters. My novels focus on the story and not as much on the details of what people are wearing or how they part their hair.
4. How do come up with your cover designs?
Books are often judged by their cover. I provide a concept to a graphic artist who works with me through multiple sessions to arrive at a design that is intriguing and catches the reader’s eye.
5. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Inspiration to write comes in spurts. When inspired, writing energizes. When inspiration evades me, writing is exhausting.
6. What are some common traps for aspiring writers?
No one has ever written the perfect book. Constantly re-writing a sentence, paragraph, or chapter to “improve “ the story often results in making it less readable or entertaining. Craftmanship is important but not at the cost of making the book less enjoyable to the reader.
7. What most interferes with your writing?
Sitting at the keyboard for extended periods stagnates my writing. I find that some of my best ideas come to me while I’m walking or riding a bike. My first novel took six weeks to write. My second novel took six months. The next four novels have taken one year.
8. What format do you find sells best for your work, Kindle, Pr8. Do you write each book to stand alone or do you build a body of work with connections between the books?
Character building is an art. Once you build characters that readers identify with and begin to feel an affinity for, you want to continue that relationship in subsequent books, so I am writing the Tucker Cherokee Series that involves his family and friends.
9. What is your favorite book from another author?
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
10. Do you base characters on real people and if so what do you owe them?
Yes and No. Most of my characters are formed from my imagination. However, there are a few characters who are modeled after family members and friends.
11. What kind of research do you do to write your books?
Because I enjoy mixing fact with fiction, I spend a lot of time researching the fact side the equation. Locations are factual, street names are factual, discussed science is factual and requires extensive research.
12. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
I ask beta testers from the opposite sex to read my books before I publish. It’s too easy to step on land mines when you try to describe what shoes a character is wearing.
13. How do you select the names of your characters?
Selecting names is fun. The vast majority of names for characters in my books actually come from my business contact list slightly modified to protect the innocent.
14. What was your hardest scene to write?
Fight scenes are the hardest for me to write to be original, provide detail, and make sure they are just the right length.