J O’Neil

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Fond memories of Saturday morning pictures and like to write accordingly. I am told I am humorous often coming out with mangled phrases such as 'they've got a face like a sucked lemon'. Find myself playing with words and get much satisfaction out of turning a block of flats into a flock of bats. Bash something out and then read it later to find its gibberish. Gave my first book draft to my Mum to read, she said she thought it was childish. Able to take feedback with good grace. More hair growing out of my ears than the top of my head. Like Bourbon and Ale, though it makes me sleep. Large comic collection. Somewhat eccentric apparently. Come on, I'm baring my soul here, what else do you want?    

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In my early teens book, The Mystery of Far Anchor Bay, everyone is named after a crater on the Moon. Haldane, Wilkins, Herschel...endless possibilites, The one thing I don’t like are long complex names in SciFi or Fantasy. Just makes it hard to read. In the SciFi, The God Of Edever all the names are simple. Jax, Harrid, Marcol, Hoag, Grain etc.  None of them give away the type of character they are. At the end of the day, it‘s a personal preference I guess. Back in the day, when I read Harry Potter, I was devastated when someone told me the name wasn’t pronounced Her Me On. So perhaps my quest for simplicity arises from my inability to read properly. 

The biggest problem is trying to capture the ideas that flood into your head during a BBQ while partially through a jug (yes with ice cubes as well) of rose wine. Seems rude to have a notepad and pencil, but the fickle thoughts will evaporate and be lost otherwise. So there I stand, looking like a rude primitive. No phone or laptop, scribbling on some pressed dead trees. Later, I realise the drink has been less kind to me than I had hoped, and the ramblings in the notebook are barely legible. I can get something from them, like the broken tablets of Mesopotamia. But the essence of whatever great insight or wisdom was in them has now been lost forever. One day I might be able to piece it together, for now, I’ll have to come to terms with the obvious limits of my literary ability. 

It sounds to me like it is more Sci-Fi. Plenty of erotic episodes in this genre. No end of alien probes and all that. 

Lol, the malleability of language. It’s like a chess game. Familiar patterns among an infinite field of possibilities, as you manoeuvre the reader towards the end game.

The white wicker chairs, skeletons of forgotten conversations, stood enrobed in quiet greenery, waiting for new souls to give them purpose once more.

That’s spot on. I got called for.a coffee after thinking about the first part and just wrote something down. As I did it, I knew it wasn’t right. I’ll have another go. 

The white wicker chairs, skeletons of forgotten conversations, lay still among the waiting greenery.


I agree it makes for a more relatable story. Overcoming adversity within and without is a strong theme. I also find that people tend to concentrate on the 'good' character in a story, the main protagonist. But actually imbuing the villain with the same complexity in a piece is just a powerful. Often the villain is given short shrift in their internal conflicts and struggles.  

My process: Is it in the genre I am interested in first? Then the most impactful thing for me is the cover. I'm a visual person, how does it convey the theme of the book? Then you pick it up and read the back. Does this sound like the sort of thing you would enjoy reading? You might peruse the opening paragraph. Then you take the plunge. A bit like kicking the tyres and listening to the engine. Though I am about as mechanically minded as my dog, it's a ritual of self assurance. You sit down to read, a fresh cup of coffee by your side, but something isn't right. As you drink it in, you realise in relief, it was the coffee that was off, the book's a belter.

Thanks Paul, really helpful. 

I like it. Easier to remember, and it's just a hook to interest people in the story. Sometimes it can be hard to reduce and simplify yourself. Having lived in the story you want to communicate everything about it, that sometimes gets in the way. Thank you. 

Harrid and his friend Jax are exploring in the forest, when they come across two girls who have found a container from the world beyond the Fall. They and a small group of friends open it up, only to find it empty. That night they are all visited by terrible dreams and a voice only they can hear begins to speak to them. The superstitious villagers fear they have been possessed by an evil spirit and imprison them. Escaping, the group flee in the night, making for the ruins of the Silver City, guided by the mysterious voice. There they begin to uncover a lost history of their people; corrupted by retelling over centuries of time. Travelling through wonders they have no understanding of, they journey across the world to the fabled Life Tree, whose trunk was said to reach up to heaven. They have an appointment with God, and God is running out of time. But the hunters will not stop in their pursuit, and terrors from the past are waiting to rise up against them. If they fail, many thousands will die and they will lose the hope of a better future for their people.

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