Today we are reading about one of the most supportive and talented writers I’ve met! I highly recommend following her Facebook page and checking out all her published works.
P.A. O’Neil spent her early years in southern California, before her family moved to a small town in Washington. Her father believed, her Mexican and Irish heritage qualified for the designation of “Smoked Irish”. Knowledgeable in things urban and rural, young and old, she knows what it means to simultaneously be in the minority and the majority. She has been married to the same man for more than half her adult life and believes, if 40 is the new 30 and 70 the new 50, she is starting middle-age all over again. Follow her on Facebook at: P.A. O’Neil, Storyteller, or her Amazon author page: P.A. O’Neil.
How do you come up with character names? Does it differ between stories?
The names for my characters very greatly from story to story. I do pick names appropriate to the place and time of the story. I might’ve have occasionally reused a name or two, but that would be coincidence and not on purpose, it just might’ve been a common name. I have honored friends and family by using variations of their name in some stories, but that is only because something they said or did served as a source of inspiration.
Where do you usually find the books you read? Book stores, thrift stores, or online? What genres do you like?
Before taking up writing as a hobby/quasi-profession, I purchased all my books at second-hand stores, or checked them out of libraries. Now, most of my reading is books about the profession, the work of my friends, or the stories of the co-contributors for the various anthologies my work is in. I either order directly from the publisher, or from Amazon for my Kindle or paperbacks.
Tell us a little about where you’re located. Have you always lived there?
I am originally from the Los Angeles, CA, area, and when the family moved to Tenino, WA, it was a culture shock. I went from being able to walk to school to having to ride a bus twelve miles in each direction. I did have the luxury of having farm animals, country roads, and good neighbors, things that had been missing in the city. Though my address is Olympia, I technically still live in Thurston County, where I have resided in various locations since arriving here in 1970.
Do you have any dedications in your books? Who are they to and why?
I’ve not yet had the chance to write a dedication, but when I do, the first person to thank will be my sister. After initially laughing at me when I told her I had written a novel, she has been my most ardent supporter and keeper of all printouts of my stories, published or otherwise. After that, I need to thank the ladies I refer to as my “Sister-Friends”. They have supported my career and are always anxious to hear about what I am doing now with regards to my writing. Then would come my family, my friends, and all the members of the various Facebook writing groups I belong to. Some of them have become dear, personal friends, and I hope one day to meet them in person.
To go along with that, is there anyone else you’d like to thank right now that has helped you on your journey as an author?
My editor has taken me under his wing and taught me more than I think he will ever know about how to become a better writer. When asked what I believe is the most important thing a writer should invest in, I always insist that it be a professional edit for their work.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? What are your plans with them?
I have a novel that is currently with a professional Beta reader. Someday, “Finding Jane”, will be published. Since my love is writing short stories, I currently have three stories in various stages of completion, with notes for writing thirteen more, but my secret ambition is to write a series of shorts about a married couple that I refer to as the “Eldon and Lou.”
Why did you start writing?
I have always like to write, but became discouraged in college, so I put it away for forty-years except for occasionally needing to write down the notes for a vivid dream. Almost three years ago, when I found myself out of work for the second time in a year, I thought rather than sit in from the television after spending the obligatory couple of hours on the computer filling out job applications, I would spend that time writing a story that came to mind. That’s how, “Finding Jane”, came about. You see, I kind of did it backwards, starting with the novel and then moving on to other types of stories. I’m now a short story writer, and even though I know I could probably write another novel someday, I’m loving what I do now.
Tell us about your writing process. Where do you start? What do you struggle with?
Many of the plots for my stories come from my dreams, but I do also take encouragement from events around me. I never write a story unless I know the beginning and the end, often the middle writes itself. Therefore, I have so many stories in the notes stage, I haven’t come up with adequate endings yet. The thing I struggle with the most is finding time to sit down and write. I treat my writing as a job, it is done only during certain hours on certain days of the week. This helps to keep my perspective fresh.
How many books/stories/poems have you published?
As today’s date, I have twenty stories published with an additional four to be released in the next few months. I also have been offered a book deal of a collection of my short stories, so I am writing to fill that as well.
I asked a dozen readers what they wanted to know about authors, and almost all of them replied “What inspired them to write their story?” Care to share?
As mentioned earlier, most of my stories come from my dreams, sometime full stories, sometimes just good premises. I also must admit, some of my best dialogue blossoms when I am taking a shower.