#Read about Guest #Author David J.O’Brien

DJO'B 01I’m an Irish writer, living in Pamplona Spain.

I started writing poetry as a teen, (as you do!) and I have had numerous poems published in various places of the years. I never expended a huge amount of energy submitting poetry, however. Even now, I tend to keep writing more rather than spend time writing submission letters. Poetry for me is a release valve: something I need to do to get the idea out of my head and let me concentrate on the next one, or on fiction.

I started writing short stories not long after beginning with poetry. I needed a form to more fully develop some ideas. After a few, I got an idea about some werewolves which were no the typical werewolves of paranormal fiction. When I got the idea, it was in the late 80s, I was seventeen There wasn’t a lot of such fiction around, as far as I was aware. I was inspired by Whitely Strieber’s The Wulfen, which showed wolf-like beings that did not actually change shape. I used my little knowledge of physiology (I studied environmental biology in UCD, alma mater of James Joyce, though you’d never think it to look at it) to figure out how the werewolf legend came about in the first place.

It turned out as a novella, and after showing it to a few people, I decided to extend it to novel length, a few years later. I sent it out to some publishing houses, and one or two gave helpful suggestions or at least positive rejections (if that’s not an oxymoron!) and even started editing it. But the manuscript wasn’t ready. I went on started writing a second novel, at the same time studying for a doctorate in zoology. The second novel took a few years to write, and it too attracted many rejection letters but fewer helpful suggestions. I wrote this as an exercise in by the seat of your pants method. I had five characters and a situation. Things got complicated for them. It was great fun to write.

When I finished my doctorate I moved to Madrid, Spain, where I taught English and kept writing. My third novel was a Young Adult paranormal adventure, which was the best written out of all three, I learned how to write better by writing, and also by learning the rules of grammar much more explicitly in order to teach ESL!

By the time I left Madrid for Boston, in addition to scientific papers from my research on deer biology and management, I’d rewritten the first novel several times, the second once or twice, and started a fourth novel. That took me a couple of years, and turned out to have 175K words. A friend who’s an English major helped to hone the YA novel and I got lots of nice rejections from its submissions. After seven years teaching biology there, and a new, short children’s novel about a boy who can see leprechauns, my wife and I headed back to Spain.

I’d several more projects on the go by then, including a three-act play and three more novels, which are yet to be finished. I got a job teaching English and science and did all the usual stuff of buying a house and having a baby, and plodded along with writing a long novel set in the Pre-Columbian Caribbean.

And I kept fine-tuning the other novels, kept sending them out. And lo and behold, in early 2014, Tirgearr Publishing, a publishing house in Ireland sent me a contract for Leaving the Pack, that first novel. I sent them my second novel, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach, and my editor said it would need some work but she wanted to publish it too.

Leaving the Pack          Five Days on Ballyboy Beach

Everything seemed to happen quickly then.

I got an idea for a novel called The Ecology of Lonesomeness. Given my new impetuous, I wrote that in six months and had it accepted for publication with Tirgearr for later this summer. I also wrote an erotic romance novella for Tirgearr’s City Nights Series. One Night in Madrid was published under the pen name JD Martins last January. One Night in Pamplona will be out in July and I am planning a third set in Boston. Also, the great team of authors at Tirgearr gave me great advice for sending my YA novel, which had just had a lovely rejection from Penguin Ireland to publishers. The Soul of Adam Short will be published by MuseItUp! Publishing this summer as well. And just this week I got a contract for that kids book, Peter and the Little People.

I have just finished the first draft of the first sequel to Leaving the Pack, which I am writing as a trilogy called Silver Nights Trilogy. I have the third outlined and once that is done, I’m back to that unfinished Caribbean novel.

All of my books have a little bit of science in them, and as much about nature and wildlife as I can get in. Five Days on Ballyboy Beach is about science graduates who are enjoying camping in the great outdoors, The Ecology of Lonesomeness is about an ecologist studying the area around Loch Ness, and he’s also a rewilding advocate. Peter and the Little People hopes to make children aware of the natural world and the need to protect it, and even The Soul of Adam Short, though paranormal, has a bit of the scientific method and a nice biology teacher! I am passionate about the environment and when I am not writing, I am looking out the window, or walking in the parks around Pamplona, or in the local countryside, which is wonderful.

DJO'B 02Some of the books are answers to “What if….” questions, such as what if werewolves were real, what if leprechauns were real, what if we do have souls? And the science takes over answering the question. Of course, the people who are in those strange situations are what make the story really interesting.

I work part time now, teaching English and Science, and have much more time to write than I ever did before, even with a young child to look after. My wife works longer hours and has to travel quite a lot for her work as a biology researcher. I have stopped spending time writing up scientific papers or thesis, so I suppose the extra hours come from there. Now I just blog about deer management and re-wilding. My own opinion doesn’t need so much research!

If I had to live like this for the rest of my life, living in Pamplona, looking after kids, teaching a few hours a day, and writing the rest, I would consider myself a lucky man. I am a lucky man. I know that some people out there are reading my novels and most are enjoying them. I consider myself privileged. My problems, and I do have them, are not worth writing about.

I only wish that the 10% of my royalties I have pledged to donate to my NGO of choice, WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, could do some significant good.

I wrote a few months back in response to a question on Chuck Wendig’s blog about being an author or a writer, that I have to write poetry, but I love to write fiction. When I am scribbling on paper or tapping on the keys of my laptop, it feels like I am a conductor making music happen by a flick of my fingers. Better, I feel like a fairy godmother (why aren’t there fairy godfathers?) with a magic wand, or that blondie recluse in Frozen, making things appear out of thin air, veritably creating people and making them do my will.

There is no greater feeling.

Leaving the Pack smbanner

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30 thoughts on “#Read about Guest #Author David J.O’Brien

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey through rejections to published. Reading through the amount of times you have been rejected I feel there is hope for a new writer like me. Although I have gone the self published route with my first novel and doing so with my second novel this year, I too hope to submit my paranormal romance to a publisher sometime next year.
    Just reading all your rejected attempts and how you kept pushing forward gives me hope and encouragement to bite the bullet and start knocking on publishers doors.
    Thank you for sharing David and inspiring new writers like me.
    One question before I go — have you ever considered self publishing and if not, why not?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Phoenix. Thanks for the wonderful comment. There is always hope. If we need to write, we will write, and will improve all the time until eventually it will be good enough for others. I never considered self-publishing for a couple of reasons – I didn’t know it was growing so much that it was a good option, and I was never sure my stuff was good enough to publish, so I needed someone else to say it was. My friends (the few who read stuff) said it was good, but that wasn’t really enough. I knew my poetry was good enough (at times) and so I didn’t feel the need to keep sending it out. But the fiction was harder to measure. Now I am going to self-publish a collection of short stories later this year. For novels, though I think a publisher really helps a lot, with edits (or direct rewriting before they’ll even read the whole script) and cover art and blurbs and marketing. And being part of a team really helps with promotion and just keeping sane. Good luck with your books!
      David

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for your response David. I do have a fabulously patient editors and an incredible beta reader who spend hours making lovely red highlighted marks through my manuscript before I comtemplate self publishing and an incredible artist and digital artist who help with my covers and it did take me nearly 8 months to perfect my MS in between working full time, before I published. I do have wonderful promotional support from writers groups I belong to on facebook, but it would be wonderful to have the backing of a traditional publisher some day.
        Happy writing and reading David.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely to hear your story of success… congratulations! I live in Co Cavan and write stories based on Irish mythology. It must be wonderful to live somewhere like Spain, and as a writer in the digital age, you can live anywhere in the world, but do you ever miss home?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ali. Thanks for the comment. I love living here, though Pamplona is not the sunny Mediterranean location some people assume when I say I live here. It can rain a lot! I do feel it would be nice to live in Ireland just to be able to sell print books more easily (none are out in print yet, and I am not sure how I would market them well from here). I miss my family a bit and I miss going hiking and hunting in Wicklow, but I go home twice a year so I can’t complain. I just wish my siblings would find Pamplona as enticing a destination as they do Alicante!

      Liked by 2 people

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