Nine Questions with… Anderson O’Donnell

Today I’m joined by Anderson O’Donnell, author of Kingdom; a biopunk, dystopian noir-esque thriller. If you’ve yet to hear about Kingdom or Anderson, let’s take some time to fill you in.

Hi Anderson, thanks for answering my questions. Why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

My name is Anderson O’Donnell and I’m the author of Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller. I live in Connecticut with my wife and two sons. I’m in my early thirties and, at the moment, unbelievably sleep deprived—my youngest son is only a month old! Lack of sleep does have its advantages, however; I’m working on my second novel, Exile (the sequel to Kingdom and part two of the Tiber City trilogy), and some of the stuff written on 3 hours sleep is fascinating. Of course, some of it makes no sense at all, and so I’ll save that for the anthology edition of the trilogy—who needs drugs when you’ve got newborns! Oh and I hate adverbs.

Tell us about your writing process?

My writing process is pretty simple: I try to wake up around 5 or 5:30 in the morning, at which time I head down to my basement, turn on some Sex Pistols or the Clash, guzzle a Red Bull, and write. Its funny: before I had kids, I could afford to be a lot more lax with my schedule. Now, my oldest (he’s almost 3) is usually up by 7, and as soon as he wakes up, its like a hurricane hits. A wonderful, adorable hurricane, but a hurricane nonetheless. So while in the past I might have been able to meander downstairs, check the Internet, wait until I was even half-awake, these days, I’ve gotta dive right into the writing. As a side note, everyone wants the writing process to be magical; to be this divine happening. And that’s not entirely bullshit. But, at least in my experience, if you don’t approach the craft with a workman-like discipline, that magic won’t ever come. You’ve gotta lay the foundation.

A good foundation is always important. Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I don’t, but that’s because I don’t adhere to the conventions of any single genre. I write genre fiction, sure, but Kingdom borrows from across the literary spectrum. Rather than trying to break into new genres, I’m looking for new ways to expand the Tiber City universe—ways to keep my audience engaged in between full-length books. Maybe graphic novels or Kindle singles…there are so many new ways that an author can keep his readers entertained, and I think my genre-blending style would work well in the “transmedia” environment.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

The top five books that have influenced me the most are: Neuromancer, William Gibson; Box Nine, Jack O’Connell; American Tabloid, James Ellroy; American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis; The Stand, Stephen King. Each book listed above had a different, but equally important, role in my development as a writer. For example, Neuromancer was the book that first made me want to write. I remember putting it down and just being so in love with the world as Gibson saw it. It was a little bleak, but man, it was awesome. Smart, but cool-as-hell—that was the kind of story I wanted to tell. O’Connell, on the other hand, taught me how to build a world, and how the city can function as its own, unique character. Easton Ellis’s prose is incredible, and his narrative voice is one that I, as a young writer, sought to emulate. And the importance of that emulation can’t be overstated, as that’s how all young writers learn the craft—they copy their heroes.

Great choices, Anderson! If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

If Kingdom were a movie, I’d cast the following: Ian Somerhalder as Dylan Fitzgerald; Ashley Green as Meghan Morrison; Michael Douglas as Michael Morrison; Viggo Mortensen as Jack Campbell; Alexander Skarsgard as Jonathan Campbell; and Zoe Saldana as Jale.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List, Anderson?

I’d take my wife to the Caribbean for a few days. She’s been a huge part of the success I’ve had so far, and we need some time to celebrate together. Alone. Without the kids. On a tropical island with a great deal of rum and very little clothing—if any at all.

Without the kids? Parents aren’t allowed to that – didn’t you read the manual?? All kidding aside, do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Oh God yes. Red bull in the morning; whiskey in the evening. Repeat.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m generally spending time with my oldest son, listening to music, or reading. I’m just trying to absorb what’s going on around me…to keep those writer’s antennae deployed and alert. And, as an independent author, I’m always trying to market, and stay connected to the indie community. I’m still blown away by how strong and supportive the indie community has been.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

The first nine lines from EXILE, the sequel to KINGDOM and second novel in the Tiber City trilogy (note: rough draft and subject to change, of course!):

The beams from flashlights mounted on automatic weapons crisscrossed through the darkness as the men made their way through the house, their faces concealed by tattered rags; their boots creased and cracked from the desert sun. 

There were sirens wailing in the distance, but there were always sirens wailing in the distance, heading toward the fires burning on the horizon. And so the men continued up the stairs, trigger fingers trembling from too much cheap speed.

Lights in a house across the street snapped off; curtains swung shut. Someone turned up the volume on a television.

The men reached the second flood of the house, the hardwood creaking in protest under their feet as they swept into the first bedroom. Outside the window a streetlight began flicker and fade.

Thank you Anderson for stopping by today and if you’re interested in hearing a little more about Kingdom, here’s the description from Amazon

In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project–codename “Exodus”–has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead–an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution….closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus–and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.

Thank you for the interview Anderson; it was loads of fun! If you’re interested in connecting with Anderson, you can find him on his website or on Twitter.

Join me next week when my guest will be none other than wonderful Vince Considine!


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