Hi Olivia Dannon, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
About me, well I grew up in a single parent home my parents divorced while I was too young to remember. My mother raised me and my siblings on her own and showed me what it was to be a strong, independent woman.
We weren’t especially wealthy, you could say and so my imagination came in handy for entertaining myself and siblings.
We moved quite a bit as my mom was doing her best to find a better job to better provide for us and furthering her education. As a result, I’ve lived in the majority of states in the west and several different cities within each. I’m so grateful for this because it opened my eyes at such a young age as to how big the world is and how little it means to run into narrow minded people. The world is full of possibilities and stories have even more.
It’s a given that I love to write, but I really do love it! My children are my first love of course, and my husband but writing is right up there with them. Aside from my family and writing I am always on the hunt for a new show on Netflix 😀 I love celebrating holidays, especially my children’s birthdays, as it’s a day I can make all about them.
Okay now it’s confession time. Unfortunately, I am a horrid cook. (My poor family!) And I’m not so great at decorating my house either, LOL but I’m trying to get better at it. I prefer to write in my pajamas and I am not, I repeat not, a morning person.
Phew! Thank goodness that’s out there and off my chest 😉
I love animals. We have two dogs a Boxer and Pomeranian, that both have more energy than I ever thought could fit inside a dog! On top of that they’ve got their roles confused as my Boxer is convinced she’s the lapdog and my Pom has made it her job to protect the house! Tiny dogs seem to think they are ten feet tall and bullet proof. Lol!
I prize loyalty, compassion and courage as the three greatest traits a person can have and I think family and friends are the greatest gifts we get in this life.
That’s probably more than enough about me 😀 Let’s hit the next question!
Discuss your newest book.
My newest release, Burning Ice is the third book in my Heatwave Series! I wrote these books with the intention of them being stand alone but I’ve been told they are more enjoyable to read in order.
Back to Burning Ice, let’s get to the summary:
Chessie has finally escaped the mafia, or has she?
Sexy as hell, FBI Agent Greg Donovan is her best shot at making her court date alive. Chessie’s got a Mafia Boss hunting her down to shut her up for good.
Danger is at every turn and it’s not a good time to have his mind clouded with lust.
Not often on the right side of the law Chessie is surprised to find she’s got it bad for her new partner in operation, Burning Ice.
So that in a nutshell is what Burning Ice is about and has characters from books one and two returning for more face time but it’s defiantly Chessie and Greg’s story that if you don’t mind me saying is HOT, suspenseful and intriguing! Sounds juicy.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I can’t really pinpoint an exact moment where I began writing. I remember my older sister complaining that I’d written stories on the back of her homework, (I couldn’t find any paper :p Sorry sis!) when I was in kindergarten.
It’s like I was born writing. It’s what I’ve always done and will always do, it’s a part of me. I am just thrilled to be sharing with readers now and hearing back from them has made it so rewarding! I’ve made so many new friends, met amazing people and it all just has me writing more 😀
What are your current projects?
I am currently writing the fourth book in my Heatwave Series. It’s called, Where There’s Smoke, and am really excited about this one. If your following the series, you’ll be excited to know that this book is Bella’s story who has been in the first three books as well.
She’s such a feisty lady she’s been so much fun to write and hopefully to read as well.
I often change my mind but tentatively I’m thinking my next project will be a continuation of the Paladin Series. But I can’t make any promises!
What books have most influenced your life most?
I love to read books that inspire me to better than I am, to work harder to be the best that I can be and strengthen me. I read a book by Iris Johansen called, Ugly Duckling in high school that really resonated with me. I don’t want to give out spoilers so I wont get into the details of the book but basically it’s about a woman who goes through horrific circumstances and uses what she’s survived to strengthen herself instead of letting it hold her down or back.
This world is not an easy place. No one gets to sail through without going through something, at least that’s what I’ve come to understand. I read that book when I was trying to overcome some of the ugliness of the world and it inspired me to be stronger. To stand on my defeats, short comings, trials and climb higher. It was like climbing out of the dark to feel the sun on my face and be happy.
I hope I can do the same for someone else. A noble cause.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Writing books is just what I do. Publishing it was the idea of close friends and family. I write for myself as it’s just who I am but never thought to share my books. I’m so glad I listened to them and got my work published. It’s been so rewarding!
So thanks family and friends for your push! I needed it 😀
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
For Burning Ice the main character is Chessie. She’s grown up inside a mafia family and it’s made her a tough as nails woman. She has so much heart and so much to overcome. I love that she is so fiercely protective of the people she loves and I love that she isn’t afraid to get in trouble.
Her character is far from perfect. She’s flawed and doesn’t trust easily. She’s determined to do everything herself and it gets her into several tight spots! She’s a lock picking, DIY’r, with a huge heart and a whole lot of guts!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are many things readers can walk away with when they read my books. I’m hoping they provide an escape from life when it’s mean, inspire someone to be strong when they want to give up, and to fight for what they really want in life. I hope my books make people smile, laugh, cry (the good kind), chew their nails with suspense, cheer out loud and when they put it down I hope they are happy they read it.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Oh my! That’s going to be a hard role to play. We’ll need someone with talent that’s for sure! Maybe we should take a poll! LOL 😀 I don’t have anyone in mind for that part.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I’m a full-time Mom and believe me that’s a fulltime job that seriously should be a paid position, luckily I take hugs and kisses from my little cuties as payment 😀
That said I write in every free moment I have. If I’m not helping with homework, playing with my babies, burning dinner, or trying to make my husband laugh than I am writing. I have a set number of pages I have to have written every day and that means sometimes I don’t get to bed until the sun is on it’s way up.
Being an author is a joy but it’s hard work if you want to be any good at it. I consider it a full-time job for sure!
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest part about writing for me is to edit. I love the thrill of a new story and going back over one that I already know what’s going to happen is hard because I’ve already got so many new ideas for new books and new adventures. That said, it must be done and done well. Agreed, editing is a necessary evil. 😦
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing about writing Burning Ice was finding the right title! LOL! I could not pick a title for that book. My street team, Olivia’s Street Smart Angels had to help me. I love to write but I have to admit, picking titles, although fun for me, isn’t my strength.
Thanks for your help Angels!
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Building character profiles is the easiest part for me. This is where I build their character and learn who they are so that once I put them in any given situation it will be easy to know how they would react. That’s the fun part because I don’t always know what they’ll do until they do it! Sometimes, I find myself pleading with my characters not to do something or to do something but I have to stay true to the characters. It makes writing for me, so much fun!
What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading an ARC by a very talented soon-to-be published author, Alexandra Parker! She’s awesome and has me completely captivated with her book! Keep an eye out from Alexandra Parker, folks! Sounds like I have another author to look into!
What is one random thing about you?
Random huh? Let’s see, oh I know. If I’m told a book or movie is sad I do my best not to watch or read it! I avoid it like the plague! Have I mentioned I love Happily Ever Afters? LOL 😀 Oh but HEA’s can be tearful too!
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
With my crazy schedule and perhaps from beginning my writing journey on the back of my sister’s homework, I will write on anything if it’s what I’ve got at the time. I do prefer my laptop but I’ve been known to write more than three hundred pages in a notebook when that was what I had to use while on the go.
I don’t use pencil EVER because it’s hard to see when you’re typing out what you’ve hand written. A super, eye-straining pain!
What does your writing process look like?
Inspiration for different stories strike at different times so I carry an idea notebook with me.
Once I have an idea or even just a character that I really love than I do the character profiling. I map out a point system next, like point A I want them to begin here and then end up at point B before finishing and point C.
After that I put my characters into situation A and see how they will take me from point B to C and so on. Sometimes my characters refuse option B or C and we hit a different route.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
I don’t like to write in enclosed spaces. Like, rooms with no windows or in room that don’t have good lighting. I’m not especially claustrophobic but it seems to stifle my writing.
How important are names to you in your books?
Names are important to me for certain. If I don’t like the name or if I think it’s going to be a challenge for the reader to pronounce and be distracting, then I pick something else. The name has to fit the character as well.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
With first book releases it’s important to have someone on your side that knows what you can do to get the word out. Getting a personal assistant is a great idea and there are several that give reasonable prices and give priceless support and know how.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
My favorite is, “Don’t ever look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson.
I love it because I think we’re all so different that it’s ignorant and unkind to pass judgement. Our differences are the best things about us. Labels and stereotypes are like trying to make people fit inside a one size fits all box that no one fits into.
It’s true some labels are necessary with disorders, and disabilities but these labels should never be the measure of a person. We are each so much more than any one thing.
What is your favorite book and why?
I can’t pick! I’ve tried and I love so many! I love Where the Red Fern Grows, because it reminded me to work my butt off if I wanted something and to value the ones I love.
I love books by so many different authors I love to read, Melody Anne, Ruth Cardello, Johanna Bourne, Mimi Jean Pamiloff, Karen Marie Moning, Nora Roberts, Iris Johansen, JS Scott, and so many others!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Every author should set up a beta reading team! I LOVE mine! I LOVE YOU MY BETAS!
Every author should have an editor and although it may seem intimidating or expensive it is necessary if you want your work to be taken seriously and professional. There are many great editors out there, some will work with you and do payment plans! *cough*cough*ME!*cough*cough
Don’t write a book trying to please all your readers it’s impossible. Write because you love it and make every piece your very best work so that you can be proud of it when haters don’t like it and when your readers tell you they love it.
Don’t assume your book will be a best-seller just because it’s good. After it’s polished to perfection or as close as you can get it to that point, you’ve got a lot of marketing to do and networking! This will help get the word out and get your works seen.
Network with other authors. Other authors are not your competition. If one author writes something that makes people want to read then it helps us all. Be supportive and help your fellow authors get the word out so they will want to return the favor with your releases. Network with bloggers too!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My kids are my life!
When I’m not writing I’m doing my very best to be the kind of mom they deserve. My kids are everything to me and such amazing, perfect little angels and I am so blessed to have them! I am pretty crazy about my husband too LOL 😀 Poor guy has to eat my cooking. Luckily he’s a great chef so we’re not starving to death over here!
We like to get in the car and go explore locally and when we have time road trips are always fun. I love taking pictures so my family lives with a paparazzi LOL!
From where do you gain your inspiration?
I am inspired by everything. Little things give me ideas, even seeing a picture in a magazine will get my mind going building a character profile around that picture. I have a very busy mind!
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
When you don’t have an inside track to getting traditionally published it’s a great idea to self publish to establish your writing presence. Publishing houses want to see if you’re willing to work so they can get behind you.
That said, even if you never get traditionally published, self publishing gives you more power to set your prices, expand your genre selection, set your own deadlines, and enjoy a larger percentage of your royalties.
How do you market your books?
Marketing is big rock to climb and there are so many different ways to do it.
I use word of mouth A LOT! What’s better than a friend telling you about a book they love? Street teams, events, giveaways on Facebook and from my website are some of the ways I advertise.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I don’t see why not 😀
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
I don’t have a designated time set aside, I try to advertise daily especially if I’ve got giveaways going! They are so much fun 😀
What do you do to get book reviews?
To get book reviews I release ARC of my books to bloggers who review books, and I encourage people to review not just my books but any author they really appreciate.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I’d say moderately successful. I would of course love more reviews! I read them and value the constructive feedback and especially enjoy when readers enjoy my work 😀
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I think if you enjoyed reading a book then it’s a great idea to review it on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes, or Goodreads. There are so many places to review these days! Every author loves good reviews!
I don’t think it’s great to rate authors so harshly. That’s not to say you should be dishonest or give everyone a five-star rating. If you’re going to give an author a three-star rating or lower, it would be great to give constructive criticism so the author can take the hit to their sales with a lesson as to what they can do to improve.
If you love a book, give it a five-star rating! What are you saving that fifth star for? LOL!
Reviews help authors sell books, it’s their livelihood. I think it’s important to keep that in mind when giving out those stars. By all means be honest, not harsh.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Social media is really important in my opinion and is too rewarding to be ignored! I love getting to know my readers 😀
Which social network worked best for you?
Facebook has worked best for me but I also use Twitter and Goodreads.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
If you ask someone to read your book for feedback or a critique, pick someone you respect and trust. Whey they come back to you with their feedback DO NOT be offended. You picked this person because you respect and trust them, remember? Writing is a business where you will find out if your book is no good, (remember those ratings?).
It’s better to find out before it’s published, what needs to be ironed out and fixed. No one writes a flawless masterpiece in one sitting, okay? It is better to hear it from your trusted beta reader than someone who doesn’t mind ripping your heart out for everyone to see.
Don’t dismiss the feedback you receive even if it is harsh, not if it has any merit. Writing is a craft that as a writer we must continue to sharpen and refine.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I did a big Book Release even on Facebook for Heatwave and it went REALLY well. I got to meet tons of people! It was a lot of fun and I will definitely be doing it again in the future.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I guess if I could bend any famous person’s ear I would pick Melissa McCarthy. She makes me laugh SO HARD! I think she’s quick witted, smart and seems to be a kind person. I bet she would be a lot of fun to talk with.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Here are the many different ways my readers can connect with me and/or find out what’s coming up!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authoroliviabdannonromancer/
Alright, everybody go check her out!