From Filmmaker to Author: Shane O’Dell Introduces An Orchestrated Mistake
Memoir serves as equally haunting and magnificent memoir journeying through success, self-denial, and ultimately self-preservation.
(Halifax, Nova Scotia): “Just never bare your soul”; for years, Shane O’Dell translated this oft-used saying of his mother into his own gospel truth that informed the way he lived his life—avoiding the reality of his medical condition in a quest to achieve a life-long dream. In his memoir, An Orchestrated Mistake, O’Dell tells the story of what happens when these harsh truths finally manage to catch up in his race for success.
Calling himself a “reluctant diabetic,” O’Dell, a filmmaker, playwright, and now author, takes us on a retrospective journey that starts in his native Vancouver and leads us to New York City, where he dreams of establishing himself as an independent film producer. A dream he ultimately reaches on a Thursday only to have it snatched away the following Monday—taken out with a stroke brought on by his unmanaged diabetes.
“My life was rewritten in an instant; everything was taken away,” says O’Dell. “And yet, it was a disaster of my own making—an orchestrated mistake, if you will. For years, I looked at diabetes as a trivial matter. I was immune. I had no time for it. In the end, I was forced to make time, my career cut short at age 44.”
O’Dell’s recounting of his story is a timely, razor-sharp, ruthless self-indictment that teeters brilliantly between comedy and tragedy. It’s a gripping memoir while also serving as a poignant warning to the millions of people worldwide who, like himself, ignore medical symptoms at their peril.
As it is described as a memoir, readers would be forgiven for their confusion as to why the protagonist is called Nicholas Alexander and not Shane O’Dell. Processing his life trajectory and the decisions he made along the way has been painful at times for O’Dell to process. So much so that it was easier to pretend it was someone else’s story to tell.
“I could forgive Nicholas for his mistakes. I could not forgive Shane,” says O’Dell. “After I changed the name, I said to my sister on the phone, ‘I now actually like the book. I like Nicholas. I could go for a beer with him.’ After a beat of silence, my sister quietly replied, ‘You do realize you are Nicholas…’”
Now back in Canada and fighting to maintain his health, O’Dell decided to stop running from the reality of living with diabetes and finally bare his soul—and in doing so, he’s managed to beautifully incorporate it into his creative work.
“After losing my job in New York, I had nowhere to flex my artistic muscle. When the pain of not writing exceeded the pain of writing, I knew I had to write this book,” says O’Dell. “So, the struggle to find my voice began. I needed to find a purpose that could help others.”
An Orchestrated Mistake launched earlier this month, the same month marking the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Canadians Sir Fredrick Banting, Charles Best, and JR McLeod at the University of Toronto in 1921. While this discovery was a turning point for the disease, it’s still with us, afflicting over 422 million people.
“Diabetes doesn’t like to be ignored, apparently,” says O’Dell. “Even if your film work is self-proclaimed genius.”
Copies of An Orchestrated Mistake are available at Chapters Indigo, Coles, and on Amazon. Digital copies are available from all major ebook outlets. Learn more about Shane O’Dell and his work by visiting https://www.anorchestratedmistake.com/
A 35-year entertainment industry veteran, Shane O’Dell worked for the award-winning New York Independent film company Belladonna Productions. Belladonna’s films have won numerous awards, including two Golden Globes and two Academy Award nominations for their film Transamerica. Shane was born in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, but raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. After a start in radio, he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, CA, and worked on the West Coast of Canada as a performer and playwright before moving to New York and behind the camera. He is immediately available for media interviews and comment.