RKB Writes Presents:
An Author Interview with Pete A. O’Donnell
Pete O’Donnell is the writer, creator, and performer of Ill-Advised Stories, a children’s story podcast full of free and funny tales. He is a graduate of Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a member of the society of Children book writers and illustrators.
He makes his home in Rhode Island and the town he works in as a firefighter and EMT inspired the setting of his first book the Curse of Purgatory Cove about a boy and old man claiming to be a pirate.
He’s been telling stories about alien invasions and talking trees since first grade and loves diving into the worlds of science fiction writers such as Arthur C Clark, Issac Asimov and Greg Bear.
He draws a weekly comic strip at webtoons called Sparkie and Spaz about a ten-year-old space explorer and his cranky Robot companion. Their entire first novel is available to listen to at Illadvisedstories.com
You can follow Pete through his social channels:
- Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?
Storytelling has been a lifelong obsession, ever since I spun a tale to my uncle about talking trees. I was seven and it was long before I’d ever heard of Treebeard. I’m dyslexic, so reading and writing were difficult skills for me to learn, but I’ve always loved telling stories and my father was willing to write them down for me.
- Describe your desk / writing space.
I have a small desk that I hardly ever work at, but where things collect, starship models, figures and pictures, anything to keep my imagination going. I also draw a webtoon and create illustrations for some of my books and that’s when I have to clear the desk off. My couch is where I usually write, though I find I have to move around throughout the day to keep working.
- Do you have a writing routine, or do you write when inspired?
I try to write any day I’m not at the fire station and I start early, around 5:30 am, working until my kids are up. I’ll come back to it as the day goes on, often tweaking the work. I’m useless at night as far as writing goes but try to use that time for drawing.
- How do you come up with the title to your books?
I like it to be the period at the end of the project so I never title anything until the first draft is complete, plus I often find the title reveals itself in the writing.
- What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
One of the main characters in The Giant’s Shadow is blind. It happened to her fairly recently, so I find it necessary, when I write any scene from her POV, to think differently, to consider what you can’t see and how someone would use their other senses to navigate a strange, alien landscape. It’s required a great deal of research and careful consideration.
The scenes I enjoy writing the most are with a character named Amita. She’s witty and intelligent with a fun amount of attitude and she also befriends a large alien which is a childhood fantasy of mine.
- What inspired your book/series?
In the Giant’s Shadow started out different from the final product. When I was a teenager, I wanted to create a science fiction version of the original Robert E Howard Conan stories with a ronin type warrior who sold his services to various governments. I spent a great deal of time dreaming of different alien landscapes and building the worlds. As an adult the series became more inspired by Harry Potter and many of the thriller novels I’ve read. I know that sounds like a weird mix, but I like the idea of creating a puzzle box and having characters a reader can identify with in the middle of it trying to solve the mystery with them.
- What are you working on next?
I’m deep into the first draft of book three. There are revelations coming that I think readers will find intriguing as the middle of this series quickly approaches. I’m certainly looking forward to having a first draft that I can massage into an exciting novel.
- What authors or books have influenced your writing?
The world building of Isaac Asimov with his Empire, Foundation and Robot novels was something that opened my eyes to what a long view science fiction could take. Books like the Dune series and the Ender novels did this as well. Michael Crichton was my first dive into techno thrillers, a close relative of Sci-fi but with more consideration to pacing. I tend to read a wide variety in an attempt to increase my skill as a writer, which includes going through a number of classics like Hemingway and Steinbeck.
- If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?
I’ve always enjoyed the hopefulness of the Star Trek universe and really, with holodecks, you can choose to pick a thousand other places to experience as well.
- What is your favorite meal? Ahi Fish Tacos and an ice cold cerveza.
- Coffee or tea? Wine or beer? Coffee is a necessity but I enjoy tea as well. Beer, cold and preferably Mexican.
- Describe yourself in three words. Loyal, Imaginative, Curious.