Interview with author Darren O'Sullivan.

       We're so excited about today's interview and finally getting the chance to chat to Darren O'Sullivan.
       While Thrillers aren't always our thing, we couldn't resist picking up his latest book 'Dark Corners' and what a ride it was!!! We were intrigued to dive into the mind of a Thriller author to see where he gets his inspiration and whether or not he even scares himself at times! We had so much fun reading Darren's answers and think he's awesome. Enjoy!

1. Thank you for joining us on our blog, after reading ‘Dark Corners,’ we had so many questions. The first question we have to ask is why Thrillers?

This is a great question, and I think, my answer is a little unusual. The truth is, I didn’t start out to write thrillers, if I’m honest, I didn’t start out to write books at all. I wanted to be a playwright. Coming from a theatre background, it was all I knew. And by accident, I stumbled upon the magic of writing a novel. My debut, Our Little Secret didn’t start life as a thriller. It started its long developmental life as a play called Pact. I wrote Pact in 2011, gave it to a few friends to read, and, well, it was terrible. Flat, no journey, no real sense of purpose. It was clunky. And that was ok, I put it in a draw, (with the dozens of other failures) and tried to write my next play. But I couldn't stop thinking of Chris, Sarah and Julia. So, digging out my tragic attempt at writing, I took another swing at it by turning the opening scene into the start of a book. It was spring 2012. I had a terrible start to the year, losing my home and most of my work. But it was a blessing, as it forced me to take stock, work out what I wanted, and dare.

It took me several years to write that book, and when it was finished it was called Blood Red Stars. A kind of sliding doors story of how Chris doesn’t die, and it changes the lives of five people for the good. Once finished, I sent it to lots of agents. ‘Here’s my book, I’ve written a book, someone like it!’

Turns out, no-one did. I had several rejections, (42, but who’s counting) and a few of those rejections came with a message that they were expecting a thriller, and it wasn’t one. So, I read a ton of thrillers, went back to work, cut 70k, (ouch) and turned it into a thriller.

Now, I realise, I was always supposed to write in this genre, I just didn’t know it when I was starting out. Good job too, I adore it.

2. We’re not going to lie, we’re terrible when it comes to scary movies and find it hard watching the news when awful things happen. Where do you get your inspiration from for your stories? Does it come from true crimes, movies etc?

The honest answer, is I don’t really know where the idea for Dark Corners came from. Certainly not the story as it stands. I guess, the origins was a thought about theme. I wanted to find out for myself what would happen to a place if the past was more important than the future? What would be the reason for it? How would it be if something terrible happened a long time ago. Would time heal all wounds, or would the wound stay gaping and untreated? From there, I found the mining community in Nottingham, met the locals, talked about the ‘good old days’. The combination of location and theme gave birth to the story. Someone disappears just after the mine is closed, she is never found, and the questions stay raw because the village are miners who have no future, only the past.

I don’t know why I wanted to know the answers to these questions, perhaps it’s a deeper personal question about holding onto things I shouldn’t, as most of us do. Perhaps it was because of a moment I saw in a stranger? I guess, for me, the most important thing when wanting to come up with story ideas is to remain open to the world, let it in, watch the good and bad. Feel the happy and sad and see that everyone I come in contact with, despite how small the exchange, is the protagonist in their own life story. Ideas are everywhere, if you want to see them.

3. ‘Dark Corners’ was incredibly detailed with so many twists and turns. How do you keep track of everything that’s going on?

I am an avid note taker, for every scene I write, I have the details of it jotted down elsewhere. Usually in my coffee stained notepad. I do this at the same time I write, so I can get into the flow of telling the story, without needing to look back as the notepad is by my side. I walk often, alone with my thoughts, and before I go to sleep each night, I run through the story as it is, and where I think it might be going, its usually here I find the threads that are damaged and need stitching together again.

It seems to work, largely, but there were several holes in the first draft of Dark Corners. Thankfully, I have a brilliant editor in Katie, with a keen eye to help me answer those missed questions.

4. This might sound like a funny question, but we’ve heard authors say that they’ve cried or swooned at a certain scene they have just written, so when you’ve spent a whole day locked away writing your books, do you ever scare yourself? 

I have always struggled with the writing spilling into real life (don’t worry, I’ve not killed anyone or anything) When I was writing Our Little Secret, I was nervous on train platforms. With Close Your eyes, I spent many a night sleeping on my son’s bedroom floor because it features a kidnapped child. With Closer Than You Think, I had bad dreams about house fires, but so far, Dark Corners has been the hardest to write in terms of the personal impact. Whilst writing, I often woke up around 3am, sure I could hear someone in my house. I had to check the locks, and many times I thought I saw the drifter in the shadows. It sounds dramatic, but when you’re wrapped up in writing something so dark, its hard to step away. I don’t mind though, if I can make it real enough for me, surely it becomes real for the reader? At least, I hope so.

5. Can you see yourself ever writing a romance or rom-com or is your heart content with suspense and thrillers?

Again, I love writing thrillers. But I would consider another genre. Because, for me, the act of writing is magical. And there are a million unsaid stories. I am currently dabbling with a book out of genre, something lighter, softer, hopefully funnier. I doubt it will ever be published or ever read. But the process is wonderful all the same. And the process of opening my laptop with a cup of coffee on my left hand side, that’s the dream.

6. You currently have four books on the shelves and one due out in January next year. Have you always written and known it was what you wanted to do, or did a specific time or moment inspire you to finally put pen to paper?

Writing is something I have always done, but I only recently learnt that. It wasn’t until digging though old school work a few months back, did I see that when I was creatively writing, I actually did some work. Being a kid from a council estate, I didn’t think writing as a job was viable. I was too lazy, unfocused. I scrapped through my GCSE’s, and so, from leaving school until I was in my late 20s, I kept my writing a secret.

7. What’s your favourite part of the writing process? First jottings of a new idea, big edits or that final edit before it gets sent off for the last time?

This is such a lame answer, but all of it. Truly. Each step brings its own joy. Sure, it’s tough, but the challenge excites me now just as much as when I started, if not more. I get to lay it all out there, try to push myself to be better than the version of me before, it’s intoxicating!

8. Who are some of your favourite authors? Do you read the genre you write, or do you change it up a bit on your bookshelf? 

So, I love books. They are bloody beautiful little things that take you to other worlds, make you laugh, cry, s### your pants. Nothing else comes close does it? And so, I try to read as many different genres as I can. Obviously, thrillers are what I read the most, as I want to stand on the shoulders of giants. But its impossible to say who are my favourite authors. Recently, I have read three amazing thrillers.

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs. Loved it. So twisty and pacey. He’s insanely talented.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. WHAT A BOOK!
The Chain by Adrian Mckinty. I couldn’t put this one down.

I’ve also recently re-read the Wolf Brother series by Michelle Paver. She is a wonderful storyteller, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I also listen to a lot through audible, Joy Ellis and Cara Hunter being my last. That and Stephen Kings On Writing. I must listen to that once a month, every month. 

Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did. We found Darren's answers fascinating. 

For more on Darren and where you can find him and his books online visit the following links...

Happy Reading!

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