Interview With Shane O’Dell, Author of An Orchestrated Mistake

Could You Tell Us About Yourself ? 

I’m Shane O’Dell and have been in the entertainment industry in one capacity or another for the last thirty-five years. I was born in Eastern Canada, in Goose Bay Newfoundland, but raised in Vancouver British Columbia. 

I began my career in radio right out of high school. I am a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, California and performed for ten years before focusing my energies off stage and behind the camera. 

I wrote my first professional play at 28, and shortly after moved to New York to pursue my career in entertainment. In New York, I worked both in front and behind the camera but focused mainly on story and script development in independent films. I worked for almost 10 years in New York before a stroke from diabetes sidelined my career. I’m currently working on my second book and other writing projects in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

What made you write a book (s) ?

After my stroke, I was unable to complete the production physical demands of filmmaking, so I began to focus on writing as my only creative outlet. 

What is the first book you remember reading ? 

The first book I remember reading was when I was a child, it was a children’s book called, Barney Beagle Plays Baseball. 

What’s your favourite book ?

I have a few favorite books but I would probably say To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top of my list. 

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Favorite author?  That is hard, I love John Irving, but Mark Twain is one of my favorites. I love the way he uses humor to tell his stories. 

How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t have set hours to work, but at times I can be very much a binge writer. I probably average out to three to five hours a session. 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer? 

I often forget to eat when I’m really in the writing zone. This doesn’t work for a diabetic, but I’d probably give up eating. I wrote in my book, “Eating is just something you do to keep your hands busy during a meeting.”

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part of the artistic process is without a doubt self-trust. 

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why ?

If I could spend a day with a popular author, I would spend it with Mark Twain. He was so tuned in to the many dimensions of life, and he so often employed humor. 

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

To help keep me focused being near an ocean often keeps my thoughts and calmness flowing when I write.

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

I don’t really have a favorite snack or drink while I write. I guess a stand-by would just be a glass of water. Although the Ernest Hemingway line comes to mind, “Write drunk, edit sober!”

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I went for a walk when I finished my book while listening to music. Helped me focus on the book in its entirety. 

Do you listen to music while you wrote your book (s) ?

Yes, I have certain songs I use for certain sections of the book. But I only play the song three or four times to help bring me into the mood of the piece. Once I start writing I don’t want to hear anything. 

Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s) ? 

If I’m writing fiction, walking and exercise help give me ideas. 

What is / was your writing process like? 

Like John Irving, I often start with notes about the ending. I then make notes about the beginning. I then write the beginning and try and find my way to the end.

Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want? 

I write for myself, if others enjoy it or can relate, then that’s a bonus. 

How did publishing your first book ?

I had a couple of offers to publish my first book, but like Twain, I elected to self-publish. I felt I had more control so I hooked up with a talented editor and we both jumped in.  

What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I research if the story requires authentic facts. Those real facts can also feed into a fictional story. Now I use the internet mostly for research. 

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Walking helps me in all areas of development. 

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s) ?

When my book can make me laugh out loud, that is a lot of fun. 

How did you come up with the title for your book (s) ? 

I had one title in my head for the majority of the writing of the book. Then one day it hit me, that my life has been An Orchestrated Mistake. The title was truthful, so it stuck.

Would you and your main character get along?

I had to forgive my main character because my book is a memoir. That was time-consuming and hard. I would just ask, ‘why?’  Then I would just sit back and listen. 

Which of the characters in your book (s) do you relate to the most and why? 

My book is a memoir. I changed the names but the story is accurate. I had to change the main character from my name, Shane, to Nicholas. I couldn’t forgive Shane, but I could finish writing and forgive Nicholas. 

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader? 

The readers of my book have surprised me. I thought it was more for middle-aged to older people, but I have received lots of positive feedback from younger audiences. I think the humor has a generational reach.

What did you edit out of your book (s) ?

I had many political references in the first draft. I’m not fond of politicians and my editor made me cut my political rants. 

What was your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene to write was when I lost hope and was seriously considering suicide. I need that scene to be truthful and emotionally honest. Still hard for me to read that scene. 

What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s) ? 

I hope my book helps others understand how important their health is– this is one of the reasons I wrote it. 

Did you get some negative feedback on your book ? and if so how do you deal with that ?

I expected some negative feedback when I first released the book. So far, I’ve been lucky, readers seem to be getting a lot out of the story. 

How did you feel when you first published your book (s) ? Scared ? Excited ? Nervous?

I felt numb when the book first came out. I was a little anxious but I felt nothing. People will like it or hate it. I was as honest and truthful as I could be. 

Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book ?

The book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, Abe Books, Book Depository, and alibris. There are also e-Book copies available.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I have just finished the outline for my second book, a tragic love story, entitled, ‘Don’t Fall In Love Without Me’. 

After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers?

The advice I would give anyone about anything. Follow your passion!

What are common traps for aspiring writers and have you faced any of them ? 

The trap that many artists face is that they stop trusting themselves. 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Any review is subjective, so you can’t get too high or too low.

Shane O’Dell’s Media Links






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