Jan O’Kane joins us to talk about how she came to writing and its delights. She is a fan of crime mysteries and is currently close to her first novel making its appearance. I’ll say no more, other than: A very warm welcome to Imagineer-ing, Jan!
When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?
I was very young when I discovered I loved telling stories. I remember telling stories I made up to my Mom before I started school.
However, when I went to grade school, I discovered reading. It became a passion. As my sister would say, in a family gathering you would always see me in a corner reading a book. I think this is the natural progression to writing.
I started writing back in the 80s, but I wrote my novel in longhand. I still have it and I intend to rewrite it for publication, but it will take a great deal of updating.
Did anything in particular inspire you to embark on the writing path, such as an event in your life?
Besides reading, it would have to be the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. It started my imagination going and I started writing soon after that event. Now, I use several different events to inspire a story.
Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?
Yes, I read mostly the same genre, but recently I found Traci E Hall books. Her work is a departure from my normal reading, but worth the switch.
When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?
I have to say I love printed books, but I have both. I have my own physical library of over 500 books, and growing, but have close to 350 books between my Nook and Kindle. I also have a stack of books on my nightstand.
Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?
I remember as a child reading the Nancy Drew mysteries in the school library. After I read all of those books, I moved onto the Hardy Boys. I love mysteries, thrillers, and crime stories.
Today I would have to say Jack DuBrul, Clive Cussler, Jonathan Kellerman, Tess Gerritson, Simon Lang, Patricia Cornwell, CJ Lyons, and a newcomer to my list Traci Hall; I could go on, but these are at the top of my list.
Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?
I use past events in my life for both my blog and in my stories. In my novels, they may not be the basis for the story, but I will filter something from my past into the story.
Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?
Jack DuBrul, Clive Cussler, Jonathan Kellerman, Tess Gerrison, Simon Lang.
Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?
I can only write what is inside me to tell. I stay with the genres I love. I write crime, mystery, and I even have an adventure/medical discovery book in the works.
How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?
My husband and I own and operate a mailing service, so finding time can be a challenge at times. However, when I am not working, or reading, I am writing.
Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?
Yes, I keep a notebook and jot down just enough of an idea that I will be able to recall the story line when I need to do so.
Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?
Freeform. I have tried the structured method, but my mind must work in strange ways. I find myself changing things even with the outline. So freeform fits best for me.
When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?
I use a computer. I would rather use cursive writing, but publishers want the work already formatted.
What problems have you had to overcome in your ambition to become a published author?
Strange to say, but I believe I was my own biggest problem. I wanted to it to be so perfect, that I just kept putting it off. Now, I strive for excellence. Perfection is a costly and demanding master.
Have you found the online community of authors to be valuable in your endeavours?
As a member of LinkedIn, I have connected with many writers. Several have been helpful by reading my work and offering suggestions and constructive criticism.
Have you found a website or blog that has been particularly helpful or inspiring?
The LinkedIn community has wonderful groups that I have joined. I may not be visible in all the groups, but I read and I learn. I found “Author Den” to be a good resource
Do close family and/or friends find your desire to be published difficult to understand, or do they support your ambitions?
My family is very supportive. I can’t imagine doing this without the support or the freedom necessary to write.
As an unpublished author, have you decided what kind of book cover you would like to use? Photographic, custom art? Simple or dramatic? Generalised or descriptive?
I have been reviewing photographic work (ones without copy writes) for my first cover. I know what I am looking for in a cover, and again, my husband gives of his time freely to help me design the cover.
Also as an unpublished author, have you decided yet whether to follow the traditional or self-published route?
The jury is still out on this point. I have been reading materials on both options, and I have collected books on the topics. I want to see my book on a bookshelf in a store, but for newcomers this is hard to achieve so I am playing with the idea of self-publishing for the first few books. I understand that self-publishing also includes, self-marketing, self-selling and other “self” duties that become the writers responsibility. I am using one outside aid, an editor.
If somebody close to you asked you, have you any advice that you would give them on becoming an author? Is it an endeavour that you feel you could recommend to them?
I would say go for it and don’t let yourself hold you back. Don’t wait until you are in your 60s as I have. Do it while you can enjoy the process.
Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?
I have to say I am looking for a copy of Lucifer’s Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. I had the book, but somehow in our move from Wheeling the book has been lost. I still think it is among my books in my library. If I don’t find it soon, I will have to buy it again.
What is your greatest ambition in writing?
Telling a story people will enjoy reading. I write for escapism, so I hope I can provide that for someone else.
Where can readers find out more about you and your works?
I have a blog janokane.blogspot.com that will provide readers with a sample of my writing. However, I must be honest and say what and how I write for my blog is different from my manuscripts. I also do interviews for www.faithfilledfamily.com, but again, this is different from my manuscript.
My first novel is currently with the editor, and I am anxious to get it back to start the next phase. The corrections and rewrites will take time.
About Jan O’Kane
Born in Triadelphia WV, Jan O’Kane came from a family of 5 children, attended St. Vincent elementary school, Triadelphia High School, West Liberty State College (now University) with continuing education at Wheeling Jesuit College and University of Denver. She holds 21 years of employment in the banking industry starting as a proof operator, moving to the loan department, bank support department, promoted to Personnel Manager, and then Assistant VP Business Support/Assistant Cashier. Along this path she served on a consortium coordinating the ATM machines in the Ohio Valley among five banks, coordinated the merging of systems between two banks, developed the Data processing division for the southern WV banks of West Banco Inc., and beta tested for Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh.
Moving to Durham NC in 1995, along with husband Michael, opened Always Remembered Mailing Services. ARMS will celebrate 18 years in business later this year.
Jan started her writing career in 2011. She is currently maintaining a blog janokane.blogspot.com. She does interview work for Christian E-magazine Faith Filled. Family.
Jan is also working on a novel that she hopes to have ready for publication sometime this year.