The interview below was taken verbatim from the website of Renata F. Barcelos who is herself an author and likes to interview other writers on her website. The questions below are Renata's, the answers are mine. (You can find Renata on http://renatafbarcelos.wordpress.com
Brian O’Hare, MA., Ph.D
Tell us something about yourself?
I am a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education. I live in Newry, Northern Ireland, am married, have three children, ten grandchildren, one great grandchild. I play golf three times a week off a ten handicap and do a lot of voluntary work. Any writing I have previously done was academic…very much restricted to a specific readership. Several articles in educational journals were followed by a number of book-length reports for the Dept. of Education and the University of Ulster.
I have also written an interesting biography of a man (interesting because of who the man is, nothing to do with the way I write) who daily performs amazing miracles of healing…The Miracle Ship. That’s with an American publisher…hopefully to be published within the next year. (There are some seriously fascinating episodes in that for a blog…if I get around to starting one!) I emailed the publisher the other day after several months and he replied that “…it is still in the queue, I hope to have a response by Christmas.” I wait in hope!
I had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in my taking early retirement a number of years ago. In 2002 I had a liver transplant but am strong and healthy now. I continued to do academic writing well into my retirement and followed that with a memoir about my liver transplant, dealing with the physical, emotional and spiritual experiences that came from that period in my life (A Spiritual Odyssey, published by Columba Press, Dublin).
Recently I experienced a desire to write fiction. Hence Fallen Men. It is a story about three priests. Because it is about priests, religion is in the story’s very DNA but it is really a heart-breaking story about a doomed love affair and the psychological disintegration of the lead protagonist.
I have written a second fiction book, currently with a traditional publisher in Belfast. It’s quite different from Fallen Men… a detective mystery inspired by an old 14th century painting of the Last Judgement. It’s called “The Doom Murders” and I am currently writing a third book, “The 11.05 Killings” featuring the same detectives as in The Doom Murders.
How long have you been writing?
I would have said only recently, perhaps about six years ago. I never considered myself a writer before. Always maintained I had nothing to say. But I have started to remember stories in national newspapers when I was in my twenties, a couple a failed novels in my thirties, and all that academic stuff (there was a lot of that) in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s when the NI Inspectorate kept contacting me to write reports for them. So perhaps I started somewhere in the mid-seventies.
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Haven’t thought about it in years but I was just into my twenties and tried my hand at a short story competition. I wrote a ghost story which won the thing and was plastered over two centre pages the following Sunday. I remember how chuffed I was. Story has disappeared into the ether now …along with nearly everything else I wrote. I trusted people who borrowed and didn’t return. Never kept a record of who got what. All my articles (twenty odd) are toast. No record of any kind!! I regret that now. Should have saved them.
Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?
1. One of my daily chores is to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen after my wife cooks. I play my ipod to relieve the boredom. At such times I like music with a beat. Try to imagine a seventy-five year old, in slippers, dancing to rock music in a kitchen with a dishcloth in one hand and a washing brush in the other. (Mind you, I’m still petty nifty on my feet!!)
2. When I prepare for meetings with other individuals, I tend to go over several scenarios in my mind, carrying out a dialogue with the other person…rehearsing both parts. Sometimes I do this aloud. That’s all right when you’re in a room by yourself…not so good when you’re walking down a busy street, haranguing an invisible Harvey beside you. I’ve had looks!! Oh, yes! I’ve had looks!
What was the best thing you ever heard (or read) from a reader?
I was sitting in the body of a large conference hall where the Chief Inspector of Schools for Nth. Ireland was giving a talk. In the middle of his talk he held aloft a book-length report that I had recently written, praised it, and earned me a clap. Then he said, “I just got an order this morning for 3000 of these from my opposite number in England.”(That was the remark that really made my day!!!)
Do you have a good indie author to recommend?
I’m only new to kindle (and to my kindle reader). All my purchases heretofore have been stuff by safe, well known authors because of the expense. I have no experience with indie…presume you mean cool stuff that doesn’t fit into existing niches or patterns. Makes me think of Stephen King. You just do not know what you are going to get from him. Just finished reading 11.22.63. Uninspiring premise…guy goes back in time to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald kills JF Kennedy. But King’s magic turned this into an extraordinary story. Great characters, weird theories about the impact of time-travel, a love interest that time messes with… I loved it and can recommend it to anyone.
Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?
As I said earlier, I never considered myself a writer despite all the academic stuff. But after my liver transplant I sat down and knocked out 100,000 words in about six weeks about the medical and spiritual experiences I had during a couple of traumatic years. I sent it to a publisher who, three weeks later, was on my phone at 8.30 am on morning asking for the floppy disc. (Not long ago in temporal terms but eons in computer time.) That was in 2004. The book appeared on the shelves a year later. . That book was published and after that I thought, “Hey, maybe I do have something to say!”
Do you have a W.I.P?
Sorry! I have absolutely no idea what a W.I.P is. (I know what a V.I.P is, if that’s any help!!) * Note I have since discovered that a WIP is a "work in progress"!
What is your favourite of your books?
Very small body of work outside my academic stuff…one memoir, two biographies, two novels and a third novel, currently unfinished. I find it difficult to answer your question other than to say that the characters who affected me most and who were the most real to me were the characters in Fallen Men. I suppose it was because they suffered so much…and maybe there was a fair bit of myself invested in each one of them. For that reason I would chose that book.
What is your favourite of your characters? Why?
Almost answered that question by accident in the previous question. For the same reasons outlined above I would have to say the young, tortured Father Ray Canavan in Fallen Men. It’s about empathy, I suppose, but I grieved with him, cried with him, feared with him, endured with him. Hard to forget an experience like that. (I also have to confess a fondness for the murderer in The Doom Murders. Had, and still have, a real soft spot for him. Can’t tell you why. It would spoil the book for you if you ever get round to reading it.)
Do you interact online? What’s your favourite social media?
Very little. Recently entered into a couple of kindle readers/writers forums. Didn’t know the rules. Got a bit of a shellacking from one lady who, absolutely quite rightly, objected to my plugging my book at every opportunity regardless of the thread in the forum. I learnt from that to be more discreet in any future postings. But I apologised and the lady and I are now “all good!” Don’t have any favourite social media…guess if I want to interact with any (wishful thinking) future readers, I’ll have to blog and twitter all over the place.
How do you feel about marketing your books?
Seriously frustrating process…but I am happy to do what I can. That’s why I nearly lost my nose in that forum I was telling you about. I try to market at every opportunity…but it is to one and two people at a time. I would love to know how to reach a wider audience. I definitely intend to start a website and a blog and a twitter (don’t even understand what that is) and see if I can make any kind of effort to remove my book’s cloak of invisibility. Reading John Locke’s book at the moment about selling millions of books. Hah! Doesn’t he make it sound so easy?
Please give us all your links – where can readers find you and your books?
Until about two weeks ago my lap-top was a type-writer and a research tool. I have been hearing incomprehensible words and phrases, and about various technical processes in the past two weeks that have been making my head spin. John Anthony (firstname.lastname@example.org ) took care of every last detail involved in putting Fallen Men on Kindle, and his wife, Yani, designed the cover. I would have been completely lost without John…and I still torture him most days about different aspects of the kindle writer’s life…author pages, changing price, etc., etc. He’s always patient and helpful. You can read all about his enterprise in: www.kindle-book-publishing.co.uk/
The only links I have to me are the name ‘professor’ in the couple of forums that I’m tracking (that can be clicked on) and the link to the Author Page below: