Stevie O’Connor, science fiction author and recent winner of Waking Writer’s Writing Prompt Contest, sat down to discuss writing and her latest novel.
When and why did you begin writing?
As a young child, I started writing ghost stories, and the teachers would read them out to the class. Then, I won the Edward Burne-Jones Award for Literature when I was fifteen. I always had my head in a book or was dreaming up stories. Writing is an intuitive and instinctive process for me.
What have you written so far?
In A Mirror City, Under the Stones, Carmelita de Rosa.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
In A Mirror City and Carmelita de Rosa were written on the fly. I wanted to let the characters and plots develop themselves, and also I hate formulas and synopsis. But for Under The Stones, being a thriller, I spent a while developing the plot and characters before allowing myself to start on the actual novel.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write every day! It’s a shocking old cliché, but it’s true. If you start out just writing a single paragraph a day, you’ll soon find that over time, the paragraph becomes a page and then a few pages. I try to write 1000 words a day, I don’t, but it’s my aim.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
This is tricky. Writers to me are like rockstars, and I love them. But Doris Lessing is my all-time superhero. I always hoped to meet her but sadly never did. Her intelligence, perspicacity, dry wit and empathy shine out in every novel/short story that she ever wrote.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
Make men get pregnant and have babies instead of women. It would be the quickest way of changing the current paradigm that I can think of.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
Doris Lessing, Ray Bradbury, Keri Hulme, Ian Rankin.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?
Be thick-skinned and ignore the naysayers. Don’t let anyone put you down, don’t listen to the sneerers. Do exactly as you want. It’s your life, not theirs. Follow your dream.
What is one thing you hate about being a writer?
Eyestrain and migraines!
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I’d like to be a cosmonaut.
How can readers discover more about Stevie and her work?