Saturday, 17 May 2014

Guest Interview with David O'Brien

This morning I welcome David O'Brien to my blog for a chat. Earlier this week I introduced Dave during the #MyWritingProcessBlogHop, he will be hosting the blog hop on Monday 19th so do remember to go read his thoughts on writing. But for now let’s sit back and have a chat with David and get to know more about him.

David O'Brien
Mary Bradford:  Have you a favourite author?
David O’Brien:  I think Hemingway was my favourite for a long time, and hasn't really been replaced. I'm a big fan of Hardy, despite a bad experience at school with The Mayor of Casterbridge, but that world is a little too distant to me. Whereas the things Hemingway wrote about are more immediate, and apart from war, thank God, I've experienced a lot of them to some degree. That allows you to see just how expert he is at crafting his stories.

MB: When did you start writing, are you a full-time writer?
DO’B: I started writing poetry as a teenager and soon branched out into short stories, but prefer to write novels, because unlike Hemingway, and more like Hardy, I am very wordy when I write. It takes a great effort to cut things out, even when I know they're superfluous. I am not a full-time writer, though I give more of my time to writing now that I am only teaching part-time this year, and have had my first novel accepted for publication
MB: Do you have a set time for writing? Are you a morning or evening writer?
DO’B: I am a disaster! I write when I have time and the inclination and the energy all at once. I am lucky that the inclination is nearly always there, so it's just a matter of having time while I still have the energy. I'd love to be one of those people, who can get up at 5am and do their writing before the world awakens, but I love my sleep too much, and I stay up too late at night - I blame that on the Spanish timetable, but it's a lack of discipline, really.

MB: Tell us a little about your latest work.
DO’B: Paul is the oldest of a new generation of a race of people, who the rest of us would call werewolves, if we knew of their existence. They are hidden in plain sight, though, as they are identical in appearance to Caucasians. They differ physiologically, however, in having much stronger lunar rhythms, to the point where during the three days and nights of a full moon they are almost completely controlled by their hormonal instincts. They have been persecuted for centuries and the remnants of the race have escaped Eastern Europe but are so dwindled that Paul has been given leadership of a group of young men who must seek wives outside their own kind. The Pack, as they call themselves, has roamed the city for years, and Paul has done well in keeping them controlled and out of trouble. Paul has always known he must settle down and leave the pack to roam under someone else's leadership. But when he meets Susan, someone he instantly recognises as a potential life mate, he discovers that actually handing over control is going to be hard to do. More difficult than that is the step of telling Susan the secret of his identity - something his family insist he do, so that Susan can decide for herself if she wants to marry what she'd have called a monster. Not only is it hard to voice something he has always hidden, but he is afraid that she will be abhorred by him once she finds out the truth.
For her part, Susan believes Paul is the perfect man - besides his juvenile tradition of going off drinking with his mates every month. She wants him to give all that up, but sees that Paul is a creature of habit, and that it will be hard to settle him down completely. However, she discovers she is pregnant and decides that Paul has to decide between continuing to act like an adolescent every month, and becoming a grown man and father who stays at home. 

MB: Do your books require much research?
DO’B: It depends. Most of my books have something of science and ecology in them, so they need a certain amount of fact checking, just to back up the general ideas that are in the back of my mind from my academic life. Leaving the Pack needed little extra information because it's physiology of the werewolves is imagined, and only loosely based on the little biochemistry I know. My next novel, Five Days on Ballyboy beach (which I am currently working on editing to make it digestible!) only required a few paragraphs about surfing added to bits and pieces of real experience and imagined scenery. My long-term WIP, Palu and the Pyramid Builders though does require a lot of research. It is set in the Pre-Columbian Caribbean, and the setting is based somewhat on a holiday in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as short trips to Mexico and the Greater Antilles, I don't know near enough about that environment to be able to just pull things from memory. So I've been taking notes on several books and plan to read more when I get back to it.

MB: Where can we buy/see your work?
DO’B: Here are some links to my blog and places where you can buy Leaving the Pack.

D O'B: Thanks for having me on your blog and for asking such interesting questions!

MB: It has been my pleasure David. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.


  1. Thanks again Mary. It was great to have such interesting questions. I'll be online one and off during the day if anyone has any comments or further questions, I'd be happy to answer.

    1. David it was my pleasure, I wish you the best of luck with your new book and I want to thank you for finding time in your busy schedule to chat with me.

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