Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interview with Steve O'Brien

Author of
Elijah's Coin: A Lesson for Life

Please tell me a little about yourself. When did you know you wanted to become an author?

In the seventh grade one of my teachers provided encouragement about my writing and I guess it started then. I did stints as a sports writer in high school and college and wrote several short stories, but wasn’t concerned about the publishing side. It was primarily for my own enjoyment. Then law school and my legal career overwhelmed my writing time. Only in the past few years have I focused on my dormant writing career.

Please tell me a little about “Elijah’s Coin”.

Elijah’s Coin is a story I wrote for my kids. A young man is trekking down a dangerous path and meets an unusual mentor, Elijah King, who gives him advice and a coin. Through meetings with Elijah and others who had received the coin, the young man learns what true success is and gets his life back on track. He comes face to face with his darkest memories and in the process has to choose to stay on the path or revert to his previous ways.

How did you become published?

Through my legal work, I came to know several publishers and tapped them for any knowledge I could glean. I was fortunate to find a startup publisher who was interested in inspirational fiction and it all came together.

What was the publishing process like?

Slow. I had no idea that the time from a finished manuscript to a release date could be so long. It seemed like time was standing still. I also am a serial re-writer, so they had to literally tear the manuscript from me, otherwise I’d still be revising.

What is something you wish you would have known about the publishing business?

As a writer, I believed the manuscript was the product. It isn’t. The manuscript gets turned into a book. That is the product. Sounds simple, but I had no appreciation for the steps required to go from manuscript to published book.

What has been your best author experience so far?

I boarded a plane and a gentleman was reading Elijah’s Coin. I didn’t know whether to say something or not. I sat a few rows behind him and I watched to see how he was reacting. When the flight ended, I chose not to say anything to him, but the experience of seeing a total stranger holding my book was a thrill. I wondered how he found out about the book, was it a gift, did someone recommend it, where did he buy it?

What is the least thrilling/attractive part of being an author for you?

I don’t think I’ve found one yet. I love the writing process. I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I’ve experienced “story block” where I’m undecided about which direction a specific storyline should take, but even that is challenging and enjoyable.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write something every day. Read every day. Learn the craft. Stephen King said something that stuck with me. He said we don’t get to decide if our work has commercial value. Kind of an odd remark to inspire a writer, but the point is we have to be ourselves as writers. We have to develop our own style. If a writer tries to mimic a known, commercially successful author’s style, the work won’t have any sense of identity. Be yourself.

Is “Elijah’s Coin” your first book? If no, what other titles do you have out? If yes, what was it like to see your debut novel in print?

Elijah’s Coin is my first book. Maybe the greatest experience for an author is to hold that first book. It is really a special moment. Also walking into a bookstore and seeing the book is a thrill.

How did you decide to write novel in this genre? Have you written any other genres?

I guess the genre picked me. As I said, I wrote the book for my kids and they hit the YA demographic. I chose to write it in first person and made it a book that would not be intimidating to read.

Do you have a novel in the works?

In March my second novel, Bullet Work will be released. This is a very different book from Elijah’s Coin. It is a mystery suspense novel set at a thoroughbred race track. It is written in third person, so I have evolved to a different genre and style of writing. I also have a suspense thriller manuscript that is nearly through the first draft. I still have a lot of work to do on that one.

What is your favorite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird.

What is the last book you read?

The Emperor’s Tomb by Steve Berry

What are you currently reading?

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

Do you have a pet?

Not currently. Growing up my family had a steady assortment of dogs and cats.

Do you have kids? If so, how do you balance writing and parenting?

We have a son and a daughter. My best writing time is early in the morning, so I try to use that “alone time” for writing.

Name three things you couldn’t live without.

My family, my computer and my car.

If you were given the opportunity to invite any 5 people to dinner who would you invite?

If living or dead, I’d pick--Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin, Clarence Darrow, and Winston Churchill. If living only, I’d pick Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Jane Smiley, Nora Roberts, and Greg Iles.

Name three things on your bucket list.

Week long vacations in Dublin, Rome and Paris.

Are you a night owl or early bird?

Early Bird, definitely

Who is your favorite author?

Cormac McCarthy

What is your preferred writing atmosphere?

Either the kitchen table early in the morning or a coffee shop. The latter comes with noise and distraction, but sometimes that is helpful.

What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?

I spend time with my family. Also, I’m an avid reader, so there’s never a bad time to read.

Do you have a favorite reading/writing snack?

Hhhmmm. Does black coffee count?

Which question in this interview was your favorite?

The one about advice for aspiring authors.

Thank You Steve!  It's been a pleasure getting to know you better! 
To purchase a copy of Elijah's Coin on Amazon CLICK HERE.

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