Interview with Christian O'Neill

Who are your biggest influences?
Hmm, let's do this in chronological order. I was reading Stephen King voraciously from the time I was in 5th grade. I especially loved his epic stuff: IT, THE STAND, THE DARK TOWER and most especially THE TALISMAN. In middle school, I discovered Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and their gloriously addictive brand of Tolkien-by-way-of-AD&D fantasy. When I was in high school, I was deep into Marvel comics, with a particular love for Peter David and Chris Claremont. I spent my undergraduate years figuring out which of the classics resonated most deeply with me (turns out it's all the melodrama, especially Hugo and Dickens). Finally, I'm just as influenced by the screenwriters and playwrights I came to admire in my twenties and thirties: immensely talented writers ranging from Tony Kushner to THE X-FILES' Darin Morgan to John Lasseter. As an adult I read everything and everyone, but these are the folks I keep going back to for inspiration. Also, let's be honest, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My amazing family. Also, this crazy desire I have to not just stay in bed all day, because there's, like, a whole world out there to experience! Yeah!

Listen, I talk a good talk, but to be real: this morning I stayed in bed until 11:17, and only got out because the pancakes were ready.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a social worker by day. I work with children trapped in the never-ending crapstorm called foster care. When I'm not doing that, I'm spending time with my family, daydreaming, playing video games, exploring NYC, directing plays, thinking about all the plays I've directed and how much better they could have been if I'd only known what I know now, watching copious amounts of television, procrastinating, eating, and thinking about eating.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was in elementary school, every student had to write an 8-10 page book for a statewide competition called the Young Authors Contest. We bound them ourselves and drew cover illustrations.

Mine was disqualified because it was 250 pages. A special team of educators had to be brought in to help me figure out how to bind it (the solution, I believe, involved heavy-duty thread). The book was called The Cave of Time. Get ready to be shocked: it was about a cave where you can travel through time. Get ready to be double-shocked: also, dragons.
What is your writing process?
1. Coffee
2. Movie scores
3. So, so many rewrites.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not quite, but I can say that reading Stephen King's THE TALISMAN at the age of eleven caused a seismic shift in my soul. I am, in so many ways, still Jack Sawyer, still trying to make my way across the nightmare landscape of America, searching for the holy artifact that will heal this cancer-stricken world.

Wow, shit just got real.
Describe your desk
Imagine a messy, disorganized pile of unread correspondence, notebooks, bills, an unopened frame from Home Goods for some reason, a stack of blank DVDs, a stapler, about two dozen flash drives and SD cards, and another three piles of miscellaneous papers. Now imagine that pile exploding. What comes next is my desk.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Cranston, Rhode Island. As for how it influenced my writing...goodness, I have no idea. Rhode Island is small, so I wanted to be big, and for everything I did to be big. Rhode Island is the Ocean State, and the ocean is everywhere in my writing. Rhode Island is weird and eccentric and diverse and creepy and old, and so is my writing. Rhode Island, also, is not an island, which is neither here nor there, but is a common mistake that people make. The more you know...
When did you first start writing?
I remember writing origin stories for all the Masters of the Universe characters on little sheets of math paper when I was about seven years old. Stinkor's was in the form of a song.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have a long-ish blog post about this at backroadsia.com, but the short answer is: I've always wondered what a fantasy world based on American folklore would look like. So I invented one. Also, it's very sort-of loosely based on a tabletop RPG campaign I DMed with a group of my friends about ten years ago. One day, they will all sue me for this.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Because this is America, darn it!
Published 2015-02-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.