Saturday, 11 February 2017

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Jenny O'Brien

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Hi and thanks Rachel for inviting me to participate. I'm a writer of both romance and children's fiction (age 7 upwards). I've been writing seriously for about eight years and my New Year's resolution is to move from Indie to traditional - I wonder if I'll manage! 

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

My first book, and the book that started me on this journey is for children. It's called Boy Brainy and is about a couple of Welsh ten year olds who, through no fault of their own are being bullied. 

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

I've completed five and i'm on the last legs of the sixth. In order of publication they are:
Boy Brainy
Ideal Girl, Girl Descending and Unhappy Ever After Girl (my Irish Trilogy)
Englishwoman in Paris
Englishwoman in Manhattan (work in progress) 

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I'd have to say Boy Brainy as it started it all off. In a way it was the easiest to write and the quickest.

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

Unhappy Ever After Girl. Although I'm Irish I've spent a lot of time In Wales and Unhappy Ever After Girl is set in a lovely place called Betws-y-Coed. In my romances I like to play games with myself. I pose questions like: is it possible for a man to fall in love with an ugly girl, as in Girl Descending? But in Unhappy Ever After Girl I took this one step further as the hero is blind, the question being of course Is it possible to fall in love with someone you can't see?

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I have a very soft spot for Dai Monday, the ten year old In Boy Brainy. He has his back against the wall for most of the story but still manages to look out for his best friend.

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

Actually that's easier to answer than I thought as I did change something based on a review. That's the perfect thing with writing as opposed to knitting. I don't have to unpick anything just use the delete button. The delete button is an author's best friend. 

7) Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

Probably Englishwoman in Paris. As a self published writer I'm also learning the profession so to speak and book cover designing is all part of the process. I wanted to see if I could come up with a cover to be proud of, something that picked out the key elements of the story. The cover has the main character, Lady Sarah playing the saxophone on her balcony with her cat by her feet.

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I write in two genres already but I'm thinking of romantic suspense. My romances aren't that straightforward and they seem to be growing darker with each successive book. Sometimes I wonder just how dark I can make them while still making them enjoyable. I'm happy to make my readers both laugh and cry, in fact that's my intention but Shush, don't tell anybody! 

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

Book number seven takes the reader back to Dublin, my birthplace. I've already started it but I had to put it aside for a while. I know it probably sounds peculiar as I'm writing it but in a way I don't want to know what happens. In answering the previous question I mentioned my writing was getting darker and this book underlines and capitalises this. It's very much about  grief and the place it has to play in some relationships. The start is written as is the end, I'm shying away from working on the middle. It's a huge responsibility to get this book just right. 

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

There are too many, way too many. I enjoy both thrillers and romances. Robert Goddard has never let me down, neither has Sarah Morgan, Desmond Bagley, Alastair  McClean or Dick Francis. If I like a writer's words I do tend to binge and read the lot. For me it's the writing style and the plot. I'm not that interested in over flowery prose and I've only started to read the background scenery bits since I started writing.

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

No, only to add Rachel that I've enjoyed answering your questions and thank you again for inviting me. 

You are very welcome Jenny, it has been a pleasure interviewing you and I do agree Sarah Morgan's books have never let me down either.

About Jenny O'Brien

Jenny O'Brien was born in Ireland a very long time ago. She's an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a 2016 RoNA judge.

She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so.
She's also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings - two of which you'll always find in her scribblings!

She lives in Guernsey and, in her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You'll be pleased to note she won't be entering Bake-Off.


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