Features/Q&A/Sponsored Content/Literature

Short cuts to adventure

18 May 2023

Drawing inspiration from the Danish fables, Andrew O’Connell takes readers into the unknown. With his fourth collection of short stories just released, the author tells Julie Hosking what the world of eventyr is all about.

Andrew O’Connell isn’t so much drawn to writing as he is fulfilling a burning desire to express how he feels. 

“I think when an artist has a preferred medium for expressing themselves, it’s because they’ve found the way that best enables them to do that,” O’Connell says. “Writing was the medium I, personally, needed.”  

When Seesaw last caught up with the busy artist, it was for Company O, the theatre company he founded more than a decade ago. But the former physiotherapist is also a prolific author, who has just released the fourth volume in his short story series, Eventyr: 12 Tales of Dread and Horror. Taken from the Danish word for fairytales, eventyr also means adventure and O’Connell is never happier than when he’s taking readers on adventures into the unknown. 

“I started writing in my late teens, I’d say – just some thoughts and memories at first, then in my early twenties, I turned to writing poetry,” he says.  

“I experimented with other genres – I wrote one page of what I thought would be a novel once! – but I eventually found short stories and plays to be the forms that were most conducive to what I wanted to say.” 

So what is it O’Connell wants to say? Julie Hosking delves into the world of eventyr. 

Julie Hosking: What inspires you as a writer?  
Andrew O’Connell: It almost always comes from mundane things. For example, probably around 10 years ago now, I used to drive past an old Telstra phone booth on the side of a road, kind of in the middle of nowhere. When I used to see it at night, the glow of the orange Telstra logo on top and the light on inside it with darkness all around, I wondered who would use it and – the next thought kind of scared me – who would call that booth? Such a snippet of mundane life inspired me to write The Telephone, the story of a phone call made by a woman who’d died half a century earlier. A truck driver who stops at a roadhouse where the booth is located eventually answers the insistently ringing phone and … well, you’ll have to read the story in Eventyr: 12 Tales of Love Beyond the Grave!  

JH: Take us into the Eventyr world. 
AO: When people used to ask me what kind of stories I wrote, I didn’t exactly know what to tell them. I couldn’t say scary stories because they’re not all scary and I couldn’t say fairy tales because while some of my stories are fable-like, they’re not all fairy tales. I couldn’t just say short stories because people wanted to know what kind of short stories. I suppose I’d have to say weird fiction if I was forced to choose an existing genre. But I’d like to think my genre is eventyr. And instead of trying to define this genre myself, I’ve let my readers define it! So, from my readers, an eventyr is “a clever, insightful, intriguing, uplifting, and often ethereal short story with an unexpected ending, theatrical in nature, and conducive to being performed”. 

JH: What was the process like when you decided to publish the first volume?  
AO: I soon found out that mainstream publishers don’t really publish collections of short stories by new writers. I eventually found a company that does what’s called assisted self-publishing, which essentially means I bear the costs but they take care of the entire process, including some marketing and distribution. By the time I was ready to publish the first volume, Eventyr: 12 Unlikely Conversations, I’d come to a point in my life at which I’d decided I was going to publish my stories and produce my plays, no matter what anyone said or did, and no matter how many readers (for my books) or audience members (for my plays) were interested, and no matter what the response was. So the process was essentially persist until I found a viable way to make my books real. 

’12 Tales of Dread and Horror’ is the fourth volume in
Andrew O’Connell’s Eventyr series.

JH: You’re about to release the fourth in the series. What can readers expect from 12 Tales of Dread and Horror? 
AO: To quote from the blurb, “the Eventyr take a dark turn in this collection, opening the box on human experiences we normally prefer to shun: fear, disgust, terror, and the uncanny. These stories ask: What if nothing is as it seems and life as we know it is only ever moments away from descending into chaos?” So, this volume explores darkness. I want the entire series to be a journey. The first volume, 12 Unlikely Conversations, was quite whimsical, funny, and poignant in nature; the second volume, 12 Tales of Love Beyond the Grave, was more serious, wistful, and plaintive. The third volume, 12 Tales of Unbreakable Friendship, has less fantasy and explores more the harsh realities of our world. 12 Tales of Dread and Horror descends into darkness and fear. I think the fifth book  – and I hope there will be one – will emerge from darkness and into the light in a more magical way! 

JH: What do you find readers connect with and does that affect what you write next? 
AO: I think readers connect with the archetypes – the bumbling fool, the dangerous antagonist, the naive child, the broken-hearted, the unknown entity, to name but a few. I would claim readers’ comments don’t affect what I write but I may be influenced in subtle ways. That said, one of my friends has recently told me to write a story about something that’s very close to their heart so I’m already considering writing such a story in the next volume. I’d like to think of my readers as inspiring, not influencing, what I write – well, inspiring is influencing in a positive way, I guess. 

JH: Are you heavily involved with the look and feel of your books?  
AO: I work with the wonderful Lika Kvirikashvilli, who’s based in Georgia (the country). Lika always seems to get it right – or produces something better than I’d originally imagined! I started off giving Lika quite extensive instructions for illustrations but as time’s gone on, we’ve got to know each other and I find myself saying less and less. Lika knows my style of writing and illustrates accordingly. Having said all that, we’ve gone for something a bit different for 12 Tales of Dread and Horror, moving away from the more literal illustrations and towards a more abstract, ink-blot style. The cover is Lika’s work as well.  

JH: How does the discipline of writing differ from acting in your experience? 
AO: Acting is almost always more collaborative. There are performances you can’t do without other people, of course, whereas you can write a book on your own. Writing involves bearing your own heart and soul, I believe, whereas acting usually involves interpreting someone else’s (such as the writer’s or director’s) – unless you’re acting in a play you’ve written yourself. That’s a very weird experience I’ve had once – me acting as someone based on me, who was, in turn, created by me! I think an actor is one degree removed from bearing their own heart and soul, though some actors might disagree with me on that. Writing and acting are simply two different art forms – two different ways of expressing something.  

JH: What is next on the horizon? Are you writing more in the Eventyr series? 
AO: I’m sure there will be another volume, I just don’t know when.  I’m also involved in theatre, so when I’m involved in a theatre project the short stories go on the backburner for a while. There’s been some interest in making some of my stories into short films. Actually, one of my stories,  Death and the Little Girl , has already been made into a short film and I’ve had a couple of my stories performed on stage in a 10-minute play festival called Short & Sweet, so I might adapt one or more for the stage in the near future. For now, I want to get Eventyr: 12 Tales of Dread and Horror “out there” for readers to enjoy! 

Eventyr: 12 Tales of Dread and Horror is available through Andrew O’Connell’s website 

Pictured top: Andrew O’Connell says he found short stories the best medium for what he wanted to say. Photo supplied

This article is sponsored content.

Seesaw offers Q&As as part of its suite of advertising and sponsored content options. For more information head to

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

Past Articles

  • Spring into the school holidays

    From Awesome activities to magical nannies, there are so many marvellous ways to have a jolly holiday, writes Julie Hosking.

  • In the eye of the storm

    Breaksea’s poignant story of the search for light in the darkest hours ignites the senses. Julie Hosking rides the waves of emotion.

Read Next

  • Reading time • 10 minutesFringe World Festival
  • Carina Roberts and Gakuro Matsui in The Nutcracker How to watch ballet

    How to watch ballet

    16 November 2023

    If you’ve booked tickets to Christmas favourite The Nutcracker and you’re not sure what to expect, look no further! Rita Clarke has you covered.

    Reading time • 10 minutesDance
  • Reading time • 7 minutesMulti-arts

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio


Cleaver Street Studio