About Olivia Folmar Ard:
Olivia began writing creatively at eight years old. During middle and high school, she attended several writing conferences and submitted poems and short stories to various writing contests. She finished her first long work of fiction, a novella entitled Heaven’s Song, in the tenth grade. Her short story “By Its Cover” placed first in its division in the 2008 District III Alabama Penman Creative Writing Contest. She took a reprieve from writing during her years at the University of Montevallo, where she earned a degree in history in 2012. She finished and published her first novel, The Partition of Africa, in 2014.
Olivia currently lives in central Alabama with her husband, to whom she’s been wed since the age of twenty-two, and their cat, Buddy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching quality television—The Office (US), Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and Friends are her favorites—and cooking without recipes. Along with working full-time at her alma mater and studying English at the graduate level, she is busy working on her next literary adventure.
What inspires you to write?
This will probably seem like a cop-out answer, but almost everything inspires me! My mind tends to turn everyday happenings into crazy scenarios. For example, once at a previous job, a strange man who seemed nervous asked me to point him in the direction of the company’s credit union. Before I’d reached the end of the hall, my mind was already reeling—what if he was robbing the credit union, and thanks to giving him directions, I was now an accomplice? The plots for both of my books emerged from several long, drawn-out “what-if” sessions.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a plotter, through and through. Once I have an idea, I play around with it a while in my mind until I feel it’s developed enough to start writing down. I’ve used various outlining methods in the past, but so far my favorite has been creating a loose outline following the classic three-act structure. With this method, I plan out only the major plot points and leave the details up to creative whim.
My stories usually change a lot during the writing process, but one thing that always stays the same is the ending. Writing a book is a lot like taking a road trip–you can take detours and make unscheduled stops along the way, but if you’re not sure of your destination, you will never get there.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Of course I do! One of the best ways to get to know a character is interview them. Usually I ask what their favorite flavor of ice cream is, or what movie genre they prefer. Answers to these questions, simple though they may be, are often very telling about a character’s personality and integrity. Firming up these details help me make the character more realistic and developed.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be a prolific reader. You can’t produce good literature if you never consume it. Learn what others are doing and decide whether or not it’s worth emulating.
Connect with other writers and give support when you can. We all need friends who understand us.
Learn how to distinguish good advice from the bad. Everyone has an opinion, but not all those opinions are right. Be informed about what everyone else is saying, and then make your own decisions.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
People often ask me if it’s better to self-publish their books or wait around to snag a deal with an agent, small press, or major publishing house. The answer is that there is no right answer. These are all valid paths to publication. The determining factor is simple: what goals for your books have you set?
Given my current life situation and personal goals, self-publishing was (and remains) the best option for me. This may change in a few years, and if it does I will query my heart out with a smile on my face, but for now I’m content with where I am.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Readers will always need new stories, and writers will always need to write them. Formats will undoubtedly change, but these needs will never go away.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: New Adult, Women’s Fiction, Coming of Age
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.