The Writing Life with Author Ian A. O’Connor

Ian A. O’Connor is a retired USAF colonel who has held several senior military leadership positions in the field of national security management.  In his page-turning thriller, The Barbarossa Covenant, released in August 2015, it’s the author’s expertise in neutralizing nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare threats against the United States which provides the backdrop for the story’s compelling reality, and electrifying sense of urgency.
He is also the author of The Twilight of The Day. This debut novel garnered high praise in a lengthy review in the Military Times for its realism and chilling story line. It was soon followed with the publication of The Seventh Seal by Winterwolf Publishing Company, a thriller that introduced readers to retired FBI agent Justin Scott. Both books were re-released worldwide in 2015 in Kindle and softcover formats.
Ian co-authored SCRAPPY: A Memoir of a U.S. Fighter Pilot published by McFarland & Company to rave reviews in the military aviation community. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and lives in South Florida with his wife, Candice, where he is hard at work writing the next Justin Scott thriller, The Masada Option, due to be released in late 2016.
What’s inside the mind of a thriller author?

Ian: I can only speak for myself. I’m constantly trying to create challenging, harrowing, seemingly “no way out” situations for my antagonists to face. The worse the conflict, the better!  Sometimes, after days of struggling to get a scene just right, I’ll end up not using it. But if I recognize it as something worthwhile, I will save it to be resurrected in a later work.

What is so great about being an author?

Ian: An author is the master of his own universe, and the only gatekeeper to its secrets! Life doesn’t get any better than that!

When do you hate it?

Ian: The worst moment for any writer is coming face to face with “writer’s block.”  It’s a condition known to every soul who has ever put pen to paper, and it causes acute paralysis.  For me, I know that I must work my way through, and not around the problem, because to ignore and not solve the issue will leave a story that’s doomed to going nowhere.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

When I’m in the groove, I write early in the morning, say from 8 to noon, take a break, and then pick up again from two to five.  On a good day I can get six to seven pages written, and that’s a great feeling. Wow, at that pace I can have a book completed in three months – and then comes the hard part. The rewrite and the editing!

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?

Ian: No, I really don’t think authors have big egos.  Writing is a lonely slog, and I can only speak for myself when I say I’m always driven to write the best story possible, which means no short cuts allowed. But I do take satisfaction at the end of a project when I can say to myself; “Good job, Ian, take a bow!”

How do you handle negative reviews?

Ian: Thankfully, I have not had many negative reviews over the years, but those that have come my way I’ve learned to take in stride like water off a duck’s back. “Really?” you then ask with more than just a hint of disbelief.  I’m forced to reply, “No, I hate it! What does that person really know? I bet he didn’t even read the book.”  

How do you handle positive reviews?

Ian: I handle them just like every other author.  I’ll say something like, “Now here is a man/woman with tremendous insight, a reviewer with an uncanny ability to uncover the genius in my work. And, of course, they instantly become my newest best forever friend.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Ian: You know, I’m still in awe when I meet world-famous authors at writers’ conferences. Oftentimes they are folks I’ve admired from afar, and to finally meet them in the flesh and talk about our common passion in writing stories, well it doesn’t get any better than that. So I know exactly how non-writers feel when I tell them I’m a writer. They see it as something special, and they will profess a genuine envy at what I can do.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

Ian: There are some days where I just don’t feel like writing; so I don’t. I refuse to feel guilty when that happens, and I schedule something fun to do, or maybe tackle a small project around the house. Then the following day I get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.

Any writing quirks?

Ian: I can remember back to the days when I thought I could only write in longhand on a yellow legal pad. No way could this writer sit for hours in front of a computer keyboard trying to type and think at the same time! But once I jumped into the digital fray with both feet, I quickly realized that my computer was a godsend. I could now spellcheck with the tap of a key, and I could search the ether for synonyms.  I often conduct a mini-search for added information regarding a topic or an item even while halfway through a thought or a sentence. I honestly don’t know how anyone can write other than on a computer.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

Ian: I would hope to prove them wrong!

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Ian:  I really can’t. If I did not thoroughly enjoy the creativity involved in the writing process, I would have abandoned the effort decades ago.  I honestly can say I find myself refreshed by the sheer joy and challenge of facing a blank page, and then waiting with bated breath to see what it looks like when I pen that last word on the last line.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

Ian: No, but it sure can be a nice way of keeping score!

What had writing taught you?

Ian: Writing for me is the same as reading is for others. It is a gateway for me to explore the universe, to embark on a journey that oftentimes I don’t even know where it will take me, and then I get to share that world with fellow travelers. Then I hear from many folks after they have read my books and sure enjoyed the trip!

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Ian: I’ll turn here to the Bard of Avon for a suitable quote. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” I would like to think my part is to write books that readers find informative and enjoyable.


Title: The Wrong Road Home – A story inspired by true events
Genre: Historical Medical Thriller
Author: Ian A. O’Connor
Publisher: Pegasus Publishing & Entertainment Group
Purchase on Amazon

About the Book: The Wrong Road Home – A story of treachery and deceit inspired by true events is the larger-than-life story of a surgeon who successfully practiced his craft for 20 years—first in Ireland and then the United States—girded with nothing more than several counterfeit medical diplomas. Impossible, would undoubtedly be any reader’s initial reaction—and understandably so—but the tale is based on a Miami Herald Sunday Edition front page exposé that was the talk of South Florida two decades ago. Oprah’s producer pursued the imposter to appear on her show, as did Bill O’Reilly, then the host of Inside Edition