All Member Spotlights
Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Kevin Michael O’Connell

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Having come to ‘letters’ later on in life and as a second career, it’s important to me in that it has become truly my life’s work . . . in terms of it being an important, indeed absolutely necessary¬†medium for the world, the work we do–in fiction, non-fiction and the numerous sub-genres of both–provides the reader with a continuing flow of stories–real and fictional–from which they can and do continue to learn, grow, expand their minds and lives.

Perhaps most importantly, reading a book provides the time to absorb, think, reflect, re-read, make notes . . . in a world of instant-information and 24-hour news cycles, the opportunity to reflect is becoming increasingly rare. People need our books!

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I have suffered this affliction on but two occasions in these eight years: The first time was so bad that I turned to a dear friend, a confident and a mentor in Dublin–she basically did “therapy’ with me, which identified and ultimately helped solve the problem.

More recently, finding myself ‘stuck’ but nowhere near as becalmed as before–I have walked away from the work. . .and have only recently resumed it. This self-enforced time away worked!

What is your favorite time to write? Early in the morning, late in the afternoon. ¬†If I have been exceptionally ‘productive’ I will print the pages out–to read and revise in bed before going to sleep.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Regarding writing advice, I was reminded of a saying that the Irish “dance with the (English) language,” in the sense that they revel in writing as one does with the certain amount of self-abandon that dancing requires.

On my better days, which appear on the better segments of the one thousand-plus pages so far written in the Derrynane Saga, I feel I have been able to do this.

“Dancing” results in richer, more authentic dialogue; more vivid, greater detailed descriptions of people and places and conveys a deeper level of the emotions of anger, fear–and love–which are so much a part of the genre in which I work.

I would suggest that any writer who dares to “dance with the language” in any genre will write more beautifully, certainly more colourfully.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? In what I feel my Eighteenth Century characters would speak of as being “a time of pestilence, of plague” what excites me is that people seem to be reading more–whether as an escape from all that’s occurring or simply because they find they have more time to read. Many of them are hungry, eager for something new–this is an incredible opportunity for a less well-known writer, for one in a more specialised genre to perhaps expand one’s readership.

It’s an exciting time. . .

Bittersweet Tapestry: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe is out with Gortcullinane Press.