Today I'd like to welcome Brendan Gerad O'Brien, author of “Dark September” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
I was born in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland and now live in Wales with my wife Jennifer and daughters Shelly and Sarah. As a child I spent my summer holidays in Listowel, Co Kerry, where my uncle Moss Scanlon had a harness maker’s shop, which is long gone now. It was there that my love of words was kindled by the stories of John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, who often wandered in for a chat and bit of jovial banter. I’ve written loads of short stories, 24 of which have been published in a collection called Dreamin' Drreams and also individually through Smashwords. Most of the ideas for the stories originated in Moss Scanlon’s shop, and some are based on actual real characters - though I’d never admit it, simply because I couldn’t afford the ensuing litigation …
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? ... But why?
It would depend entirely on the situation. Would I take points on my licence because of their misdemeanours? Certainly not. Would I resort to violent retribution if they were physically threatened? Most certainly.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Being alive can imply someone is just existing from day to day in a monotonous and unexciting plane, seeing dull grey skies as just that - dull grey skies. Truly living is being excited to wake up and face into a new day and a new experience, soaking up the thrill of the rain on your face and the wind in your hair, knowing that behind those dull grey clouds is a crisp, clear blue wonderland.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Everyone has a moment of fantasy when they picture themselves as the main character in a story or film. I love to go a bit farther and put those fantasies into words. I get a great kick out of seeing how the story develops and how the characters change from chapter to chapter, sometimes even from line to line.
No.4 Why do human's want children?
I have often wondered about that. Coming from a family of eight children I was never bothered about having some of my own. But when I did, I was overwhelmed by the sheer joy of holding my new born baby girls in my arms. My life changed in the blink of an eye. They grew up too quickly and I’ll always remember when I first heard Abba’s ‘Slipping Through my Fingers’. My youngest had gone to live in London and the song stunned me. I was on my way to work and I had to pull over. I was so glad I had a packet of tissues in the car.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Dark September" ?
Initially Dark September was set in Poland during the German invasion of 1939. The main characters were an American schoolteacher, his Polish wife and their son. But after a long, hard few months of writing it I realised I just didn’t know enough about Poland or the Polish way of life to make it credible. So I did an enormous step-change and made the main character Irish and set the scene in Wales, both of which I’m very familiar with. And it was easier to visit the places I mentioned along the way.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
That life is just a moment in space. Too often we’re acting like Shakespeare’s character - the poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. So in a world so full of care, we really should make time to stand and stare.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "Dark September" ?
I loved the film ‘Once upon a time in the West’ so I called my book ‘Once on a Cold and Grey September’. However, most of the feedback I got was suggested the title was not only too long but actually quite hard to say out loud. So after a lot of consideration I shortened it to Dark September.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
Being one of eight children in a small Irish town, and educated by the Christian Brothers, criticism came at us every day like shrapnel from a scatter gun, so I learnt very early how to bat away the vindictive and the spiteful bits. I analyse the constructive bits, filter out the bits I think might benefit me and sometime I actually act on them. All the rest I delete and forget about.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Because it’s a great read. The action is fast and furious, the characters are real and vulnerable and prone to all the human frailties. If you like thrillers then you’ll like this story. However, there are parts that might be unsuitable for the fainthearted and as such it carries an adult warning.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
If there was nothing then we wouldn’t even know. Because there is something, we exist.
Thank you Brendan :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out "DARK SEPTEMBER" on
Germany invades mainland Britain.
Irishman Danny O’Shea’s house is bombed and his wife killed. His young son Adam has learning difficulties. Terrified of what the Nazis will do to him, O’Shea decides to take him to neutral Ireland.
Penniless and desperate, they head for Fishguard. But on an isolated Welsh road they witness an attack on a German convoy carrying the blueprints for an awesome new weapon that was discovered in a secret laboratory near Brecon. German Captain Eric Weiss, responsible for the blueprint’s safe transfer to Berlin, knows his job, even his life, depends on getting it back. But, following a major disagreement amongst the insurgents, the blueprint disappears. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman - and both the Germans and the insurgents believe she’s told him where the blueprints are.
Suddenly O’Shea is separated from his son and catapulted into a world of betrayal and brutal double-cross. Pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to find Adam and get him to safety.