Ian A. O’Connor is a retired USAF colonel who has held several senior military leadership positions in the field of national security management. In his page-turning thriller, The Barbarossa Covenant, released in July 2015, it’s the author’s expertise in neutralizing nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare threats against the United States which provides the backdrop for the story’s compelling reality, and electrifying sense of urgency.
He is also the author of The Twilight of The Day, This debut novel garnered high praise in a lengthy review in the Military Times for its realism and chilling story line. It was soon followed with the publication of The Seventh Seal by Winterwolf Publishing Company, a thriller that introduced readers to retired FBI agent Justin Scott. Both were re-released worldwide in 2015 in Kindle and softcover formats.
Ian co-authored SCRAPPY: A Memoir of a U.S. Fighter Pilot published by McFarland & Company to rave reviews in the military aviation community. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and lives in South Florida with his wife, Candice, where he is hard at work writing the next Justin Scott thriller, The Masada Option, due to be released in late 2016.
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about The Wrong Road Home, and what compelled you to write it.
Ian A. O’Connor: Ian: The Wrong Road Home is a tale inspired by true events. It’s the story of a good friend of mine who practiced medicine as a surgeon—first in Ireland and later in Miami—and did so for over twenty years armed with nothing more than a Chicago School System GED certificate and a several fake diplomas! The expose exploded onto the front cover of The Miami Herald, Sunday Edition some two decades ago, and was a scandal that gained national notoriety. And all that time I thought I knew my friend.
M.C.: What themes do you explore in The Wrong Road Home?
I.A.O: The Wrong Road Home incorporates two themes while combining two cautionary tales. The first warns how a Faustian bargain once struck, allows for no turning back. Desmond Donahue’s impossible dream of becoming a ‘doctor’ was indeed realized over time, and a ‘doctor’ he remained despite several close calls in the ensuing years. The second cautionary message details the terrible cost in human terms of a life lived alone; of having to forgo marriage and children; of never having a close friend; of having to keep everyone ever met at arm’s length so the day would never arrive where he would inadvertently expose the awful truth about himself.
M.C.: Why do you write?
I.A.O: It’s a passion. I love the process.
M.C.: When do you feel the most creative?
I.A.O.: That’s’ a hard question to answer. I’ve found that creative inspiration can come literally out of nowhere, and at any time. And if it comes at two o’clock in the morning, I jump out of bed and begin to write so that I don’t lose the magic of the moment.
M.C.: How picky are you with language?
I.A.O: Very. I have learned over the years that less is more when it comes to sentence structure, especially with the use of adverbs and adjectives. My bible is “The Elements of Style” by E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr. It’s a small, timeless book, packed with information for every writer, and I keep a copy bedside me while at the keyboard.
M.C.: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
I.A.O: There is no doubt that something magical happens when I sit down to write. In short order the characters seem to push me aside and take over. They dictate what I must say and tell me what to do to propel the story forward. I have heard other authors describe the same feeling, so I have to assume it’s universal.
M.C.: What is your worst time as a writer?
I.A.O.: Probably when I’m tired and find myself forcing the story forward. When I realize that’s happening, I close shop and walk away from the computer.
M.C.: Your best?
I.A.O.: The best is when I’m in the groove, and seemingly nothing can go wrong. That’s a wave you have to ride until you either reach the shore or get tossed off. Either way, it’s thrilling.
M.C.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
I.A.O.: Holding that first copy of The Twilight of the Day in my hands. That was my first book, sixteen years ago.
M.C.: Is writing an obsession to you?
I.A.O.: Maybe not an obsession, but close at times. I will not rush a project, so in that sense I’m not obsessed or driven. But I really like to write!
M.C.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
I.A.O.: There is some truth in the saying, “write about what you know.” I spent many years in the Air Force and retired as a colonel, so I was involved in many of the things I write about – especially when it comes to my thrillers and my protagonist, Justin Scott. Although he is a retired FBI agent, there are many similarities between both organizations.
M.C.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
I.A.O.: I had the good fortune to meet Ray Bradbury at a writer’s conference in Palm Springs, in 1995. Here was this literary giant telling a roomful of wannabe’s how he was so fortunate to have had his successful career. He was truly humble. To answer your question, yes, I can see what he meant. It’s akin to Hamlet’s Polonius saying, “To thine own self be true.” See the world through your eyes and don’t be distracted by the views of others.
M.C.: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
I.A.O.: Readers can follow me at my website, www.ianaoconnor.com., and reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.