Thursday, January 16, 2014 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Deborah O'Neill Cordes


Today, The Write Way Café welcomes screenwriter and novelist Deborah O'Neill Cordes.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
The first inklings of my future as a writer came during my high school and college years, while I was studying science and history.  Dragon Dawn mingles my love of those fields with my penchant for time travel fiction.  H. G. Wells's seminal work, The Time Machine, had a big influence on me.  Although Wells's novel did not provide a definitive "happily ever after" necessary for romance, it did give me pause to wonder what would happen next to his time traveling hero.  Would he travel back to the distant future, rescue Weena, and find happiness with her?  I've always hoped so.  Dragon Dawn's romantic tale also follows a different path.  The romances between my heroine, Dawn Stroganoff, and her dashing commander, Gus Granberg, and two of my secondary characters, Lex and Tasha, end with great poignancy and the potential for a grand HEA, which - I promise! - will be fulfilled in the sequel, "Dawn of Time."  

You have two different time-travel series coming out.  What was your path to getting these books written and published? What type of research did you do?
I actually have three series coming out: my own Dragon Dawn dinosaurian sci-fi time travel series, and two Morgan O'Neill series, which I co-author with Cary Morgan Frates. They are a new Elizabethan time travel trilogy, to be published by Entangled, and a medieval Italian time travel series (publication details coming soon).  My writing and publishing paths have been hard fought and long in coming.  I wrote for over fifteen years before publication, spending about half that time writing screenplays, some of which were optioned.  In 2012, the first book in the Morgan O'Neill Roman time travel series, Love, Eternally, was published, with the rest of the trilogy following soon afterward.  As for research, I love doing the deep research for all of my novels.  In addition to a bachelor's degree in zoology, I have a master's in history with thesis from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, which helped hone my research skills.  Many thanks to my teachers and professors from Flagstaff for providing me with an excellent education!

Where did the idea for your stories come from?
Dragon Dawn started percolating in my mind in the early 1980s, after the discovery of the K/T Event, which occurred 66 million years ago when a large asteroid or comet stuck the globe, causing the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs (and around eighty percent of other Earth species).  I started to wonder what would have happened if that disaster hadn't occurred and dinosaurs had lived on.  What if one species had evolved to sentience and developed a technological civilization?  I thought it would be great fun to create an alternate universe where that had occurred, and also to find a way for a human female astronaut from our universe to "awaken" in a dinosaurian body and attempt to alter the path of history and restore the universe to its rightful course.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My heroine and hero in Dragon Dawn are imaginary, although I've given them surnames that are actual names in my family heritage: Stroganoff and Granberg.  Perhaps Dawn is a bit like me in that she loves learning about the past.  I also have Dawn growing up in Flagstaff.  It's a small love note to one of my home towns (the other being Staten Island, NY, where I was born).

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
Most days, I have a messy desk, filled with piles of research and sticky notes.  Once a novel is finished, I clean off my desk, file things away, and get ready for the next book.  My dear hubster, who is an eldest child (I am, too) and therefore quite organized and neat, compliments me at this stage and braces himself for the forthcoming piles.  Needless to say, I am not as anal-retentive as my hubster!  I do forgive him, though, because he's a great cook.  Of course, I would be quite thin if he didn't feed me so well.  LOL

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love gripping historicals, like Shogun by James Clavell, wonderful time travel novels, like Stephen King's 11/22/63, and any romance with an epic sweep, involving multiple characters and settings.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the sequel to Dragon Dawn, titled Dawn of Time.  I'm also working with Cary on the prequel and sequel to our Elizabethan time travel novel, The Thornless Rose.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
I have a historical epic about medieval Russia, which is not a time travel.  It is in need of editing, and I am determined to get that baby ready for publication some time in the next few years.  As for a new and different genre, I haven't given it much thought; I've got enough on my plate for the immediate future.  Gulp!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I'd be an archeologist.  One great thing about being a novelist is that I can vicariously experience having different occupations through my characters' lives.  In Dragon Dawn, my heroine is the first archeologist/astronaut on Mars.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Starting the next book.  The first moment, when the blank page stares back at me, is always a killer.  Sometimes it takes weeks to get over the feeling I'll never be able to write again.




About Deborah:  Deborah O’Neill Cordes is a screenwriter and novelist of historical and speculative fiction. She is the author of the sci-fi time travel novel, Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series. She is also the co-author of the Morgan O’Neill time travel novels, which she writes with Cary Morgan Frates. Three of Deborah’s works have been optioned by Hollywood, while many others are award winners, garnering finalist placements in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Literary Contest, semi-finalist wins in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Finalist award in the Seattle International Film Festival’s Perfect Pitch Forum. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two West Highland White Terriers, who, alas, are precocious terriers and therefore never white.

Please visit Deborah at:  http://deborahoneillcordes.com/

Dragon Dawn
Time snakes between alternate universes.  Ever watchful, an alien intelligence survives on Mars, waiting to be found by spacefarers from Earth.  The alien’s ultimate goal is to send human astronauts back in time, where they will alter the past and thwart the extinction of the dinosaurs.  A race of intelligent dinosaurs, resembling the alien’s extinct species, subsequently evolves to rule the world.  But a human female astronaut, through a strange twist of fate, survives the change in the space-time continuum.  After finding herself in a dinosaurian body, she must race against time – and the formidable alien – to restore the universe to its rightful course. Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series.

Dragon Dawn is available on Amazon.


31 comments:

HiDee said...

Good morning Deborah! Thank you for joining us today.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thanks so much for the invitation to your wonderful blog, HiDee! It's a pleasure to be here.

Rowena May said...

Dragon Dawn is a fabulous book. Great post too.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thank you, Rowena. I'm so glad you enjoyed my novel. I had such fun researching and writing Dragon Dawn. I was making changes to the manuscript right up to the publication date, because I wanted to incorporate the latest discoveries about Mars and dinosaurs, as well as information about the newly discovered planets outside our solar system. It was difficult to hit the "send" button to Amazon. What new discoveries are coming? Ha! I'll just have to deal with them in the sequel. :)

Andrea Cooper said...

Great interview. I can't wait to read all of your novels. Tweeted :)

Kay Rogal said...

Enjoyed your interview!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thanks for your kind words and support, Andrea and Kay! :)

RT Wolfe said...

Please don't tell my publisher (I absolutely love my covers), but this is positively my favorite book cover of all time. Here's wishing you many sales, Deborah!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Wow. Thank you so much, R.T. I'm in love with it, too. I have a copy of it above my desk. She's my dear "dragon lady." Can you tell I like green? ;)

Elizabeth Meyette said...

Deborah, your dedication to research gives your novels tremendous depth. I love that about all of your books. By the way, I was born in NY, my husband is a great cook, and I loved Shogun and Clavell's other books. No wonder I think you're awesome :-)

Joanna Lloyd said...

What a comprehensive interview. Great to get the background on your books, Deb. I have read all your books and I must say Dragon Dawn has to be my favourite, not because the others weren't fantastic but this is so different and fascinating and so ... green...you can see I am also in love with the cover :-). I agree with Elizabeth about your awesomeness!

HiDee said...

Deborah, thank you again for joining us today! Your books sound very intriguing and I look forward to reading them. Best of luck to you!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Elizabeth, thank you for stopping by. We have a lot in common, don't we? I must add one more; we both love to write. :)

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Joanna, thank you. I'm very glad you like Dragon Dawn - I love it, too, but I must admit to being in love with whatever I'm writing at the moment. Ha! I do have a special place in my heart for this cover; I think it will be my favorite for a long, long time. Thanks for cheering me on.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thank you, HiDee and Lynn. You have a wonderful blog site, and I really enjoyed answering all of your interesting questions.

Barbara said...

What a fascinating concept! Best of luck. I'm looking forward to picking it up.

Erin Richards said...

Thanks for a great interview! So happy to see DRAGON DAWN out now and can't wait to dig in!

Rachel Donnelly said...

This was a wonderful interview.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Barbara, Thank you so much for your interest! I love the "what-if" questions, and I hope my novel touches on the possible outcomes if one species of dinosaurs had lived and evolved to intelligence. I hope you enjoy Dragon Dawn.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thank you, Erin. I'm happy it's out, too. It had a long gestation - around thirty years! Happy reading!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Rachel, thank you so much for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Becky Lower said...

Hopping out of the edit cave to second the comment about how awesome you are, Deborah, with your research. The amount that went into this book is immense, and you've done such a great job of weaving the research with a really unique story line.

Kwana said...

Wonderful interview Deb. I can see you as and archeologist. LOL.

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thank you, Becky. That makes me smile, as I worked really, really hard not to info dump. Years ago, that was my curse. :)

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thanks, Kwana. In my next life, in my next life. :D

Christine S. Feldman said...

Great interview, Deb! Motivating and inspiring. :)

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thanks so much, Christine. It has been a long road to publication for my Dragon "baby" and it's a testament to the old adage, "Persistence pays off."

Peggy Bird said...

Great interview. As always, your depth of research awes me. I've just started "Dragon Dawn" and I can hear it calling me when I'm trying to write my own work.

lesliepgarcia said...

Wonderful interview, Deborah--provides a window into your life, a life which has allowed you to create such amazing work. Cannot wait to finish Dragon Dawn, and as long as you're the screenwriter, would love the movie. How amazing is this book? Even the title has layers! :}

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Peggy, thank you. The sequel is calling to me right now, saying, "Finish me!" :)

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

Thank you, Leslie. I'm so glad you like my title. There were those in the publishing world who were interested in DD, but they told me I should change the title. Needless to say, I knew that would be a mistake. It was one of the reasons I indie pubbed it. I am so happy I did. :)

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