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Interview with Carol O'Connoll

By Jon Jordan

Interview with Carol O’Connell

1) I’ve heard a lot of opinions and thoughts on your Mallory series. How would you describe it?

1. The series is very New York, and that should be sufficient to frighten anyone.

2) Mallory seems to draw strong opinions from people. They either really like her or they can’t get past who she is, that she is not a character that they can like. In fact the term sociopath path comes up fairly often. Did you create her in this way on purpose?

2. Yes, she's a deliberately sociopathic creation, and perhaps a strong response to more politically correct characters in books by other authors. I see political correctness as a euphemism for a soapbox. I dislike lectures that pass for fiction.

3) How long do you want to keep writing about Mallory? Do you still have more to say with her?

3. I'm currently working on another Mallory book, but I don't feel limited to that character. The stand alone novel Judas Child was well received and I loved working on it.

4) In Judas Child you switched from New York City to a small town setting. What did this change in setting do for the tone of the book that leaving it in a big city could not?

4. A small town is more vulnerable to shock and trauma. New Yorkers are entirely too blasé about murder.

5) In Shell Game magic and magicians play a large role in the book. Do you have an interest in magic, or was it something that just seemed right for the book?

5. I have always had a love affair with magic illusions, but I think I've gotten that out of my system with Shell Game. Current and future work should be magician-free.

6) Your first book was actually sold to a British publisher instead of a US publisher. Isn’t that a little unusual for some one who lives in New York, right near all those big publishers?

6. Yes, it was unusual, quite backward and wrong. But major publishers in this country don't read their slush piles (unsolicited manuscripts). So you can't get published without an agent, and you can't get an agent without a publisher. If you can't get there from here by doing things the right way, then the logical thing to do is to do it wrong and hope it works out all right.

7) In the beginning of the series, Mallory is in the dept. that deals with computer crime. Are you a computer whiz or do you just write one well?

7. Everything I ever knew about keeping a dying computer together with string and glue is now redundant with the advent of instant diagnostics. However, when I have technical issues to research, I'm blessed with a computer consultant in the family.

8) Stone Angel takes Mallory to Louisiana. Was it refreshing to move Mallory out of her home turf? And why Louisiana?

8. The pure pleasure of writing that book was being a New Yorker writing a southern novel and getting away with it. The only one who complained was a critic in the bookdocks of England with a readership of me and perhaps two other people. Elsewhere around the planet, it got very good reviews, and I'm still quite proud of it.

9) Have you given any thoughts to doing a website? A lot of people seem to have an interest in whether or not you’ll be doing one.

9. Most author websites are only glorified ads. I'm just not the type. I'd rather leave the advertising to the publishers.

10) Are people surprised after reading the books to meet you and find you to have a great sense of humor and are very charming? Do they expect someone a little more like Mallory?

10. Yes, they always expect to see Mallory, the sociopath. As a person in relatively good mental health, I'm a disappointment to everyone.

11) What kind of things did you do before writing professionally?

11. I paid the rent as a waitress, a bartender, a proofreader, a graphic designer (inadvertently making use of an otherwise useless degree in fine arts), and many other jobs can only be described as mind-sucking things you do to make money.

12) Why is new York the greatest city in the world?

12. We are the world. This is a global city. Every language on the planet is spoken here -- by New Yorkers transplanted from other countries. I hope the rest of the world sees New York as their city too. And many thanks from all of us for the support from Americans everywhere when we were so in need of friends.

13) I would imagine that you get a pretty high volume of reader feedback. Do you ever try to write to please the readers, or do you kind of let Mallory tell you where she’s going?

13. If I wrote by some formula based on pleasing readers, I would never have attempted a character like Mallory. Also, I do not belong to the shool of writers who claim that their characters run roughshod over the plot. I write in a genre that requires tight control. I only aim for a good book. I do get requests to soften the character of Mallory, but if I write a kinder gentler Mallory -- I have no career.

14) Is there anything about you that people would be surprised to know?

14. I like animals. That would surprise all the people who wrote me letters about the dog that died in Mallory's Oracle.

15) What did you do last weekend?

15. I don't have weekends like normal people. I worked. I work every day.

16) What are some of your favorite movies?

16. I thought Wonder Boys should have won an Oscar. I tend to favor good writing over special effects. It seems you can never have both. I also have a penchant for old black-and-white movies with fencing scenes -- I don't know why.

17) What is your favorite way to relax?

17. Reading. I carry books everywhere I go, and I recommend them for traffic jams, long lines at the supermarket, dentist's offices, crowded subways and other stressful situations.

18) What’s the coolest thing about being a writer?

18. No alarm clocks. I go to sleep when I'm tired, and I wake up when I'm completely finished sleeping. It's the American dream.

19) Can you say anything about the next book yet?

19. I never say anything about a book in progress other than my response to the most asked question on this subject: "Yeah, it's another Mallory novel."

20) What’s the one thing that’s always in your refrigerator?

20. Chocolate milk. Sorry -- is that disappointing? My wine rack is on top of the refrigerator. Is that better? If this answer won't do, I can make something up; I'm really into fiction.





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