As we’re all encouraged to stay at home we will all need something to take our minds off the current situation so it’s the ideal time to huddle up with a good book.
We’re always keen to celebrate local talent here at ESP and when it comes to authors we’re notching up quite a few success stories so why not choose a book by a local author? Order online and enjoy!
We’ve chatted to Peterborough author Darren O’Sullivan in previous issues of the magazine and he’s going to be reading chapters from his second book, Close Your Eyes, online at 9pm on his social media each night, which we think is a great idea.
Darren’s latest novel – Dark Corners – is out soon and has already received lots of early praise from some of the top thriller writers in the country, so it was time to catch up.
In this thriller it’s been twenty years since Neve’s best friend Chloe went missing. Neve has never recovered and promised herself she’d never go back to that place, but when she receives news that her first boyfriend Jamie has gone missing, she’s forced to return. Jamie has vanished without a trace in a disappearance that echoes the events of all those years ago. Somebody is watching and will stop at nothing until the truth about what took place that night is revealed.
ESP caught up with Darren to find out more about his inspiration.
“All of my books are set in the same universe,” explains Darren “with some characters overlapping in other stories, but Dark Corners is very different to the first three, because I am becoming more confident and more ambitious with each tale I try to tell.
“I feel that Dark Corners is possibly the most claustrophobic book I’ve written to date. Whereas with my first three, there is a journey and the characters travel, and the trajectory is clear, in Dark Corners, when Neve, my protagonist, arrives at the village, the story doesn’t leave. It is also, in my opinion, my most unnerving. There’s a character called the Drifter who’s always there, omnipresent and watching. Lurking in the shadows down old abandoned mine lanes existing in that space between imagination and reality. And the mine that is the heartbeat of the village Neve grew up in, knows everyone’s secrets.”
So where do you get the inspiration for all these dark tales?
“Idea’s fly at me from all directions. I could be driving or in the shower, I could be out for a run, or cooking, and pop, something comes in, a scene or a moment. The trick I’ve learned over these past few years, is when I have a moment pop in, I let it in, let it bounce around a bit, and then, I find a way to write it down. Not all ideas work. I’ve had about twenty ideas for novels in the last couple of years. Only about half of them I think would actually make a compelling book (I hope).”
Do you consider yourself a fully-fledged author now?
“I wish I did. Sometimes I feel like a real writer, when I get good news or see one of my books on a shelf somewhere, but mostly, that imposter syndrome I had when I began is still strong. Recently I was asked if I would do a telephone interview for a radio station’s book review show, and my response was, ‘I’d be honoured, but have you got the right person?”
What’s your ambition?
“My ambition is really simple, and one I hold on to with both hands and protect furiously. All I want to do, is succeed enough to be asked to write that next book for as many books as I possibly can.”
It’s the Year of Reading in Peterborough where our literacy levels are low – why do you feel it’s important to get kids more engaged with books?
“Our world is now so much faster than it once was, and time is stretched, meaning that there is the appearance of not having enough time for things like reading. But, it is so vital for children (and adults alike). Reading teaches us to see the world through someone else’s eyes, it helps us develop empathy and understanding. Reading makes us kinder people. And we need more kind people in the world. Reading also sets imagination alight, it allows us to be transported to a different place and time where anything is possible. I’ll never forget the first time I read Peter Pan; I was sure I could fly. A million different worlds exist within the doors of a book shop or library, but we have to help children through the doors so they can discover them.”
Would you like to see any of your stories televised or turned into a film?
“I think most authors would answer in exactly the same way. Yes, I’d love that. Could you imagine, it would be insane. As long as I could have a role in it. Like, random bloke #3 or something!”
Is it easier for new authors to find a platform now?
“In the short 2.5 I have been published; the industry has changed so much. There are so many ways into it via traditional published (paperbacks/supermarkets etc) and digital first (e-book focus) and publishers are eager to sign new books. And self-publishing has never been so popular, with lots of writers doing very well for it. It’s a good time to be a debut.
“But, it does mean that the market is busier, and therefore harder to find your voice amongst everyone else’s, and I’ve noticed this in sales and orders too. Authors have to work really hard now not just making stories up but making sure the world knows about them. With support from friends, (and brilliant magazines) it is possible to still find readers.”
How did you first get started and what tips would you give to someone starting out?
“I try to make my process as un-complicated as possible, because looking at the big picture is really intimidating. If you are writing a book, yes, you need to write 90,000 words and have a tight plot and edit and re-write and find a publisher and be able to sell it. And, and, and…
“It’s way too much for anyone to do. So, my best advice is to take one step at a time. When I started my first book (and every book since) I don’t think about hundreds of pages I need to create, just the first page, the first scene, the first chapter. It really is a marathon, in that you have to put one foot in front of the other. You do that for long enough, you get to the end. But give yourself a deadline. I really believe a lot of my success in this is because I wrote like it was my full time job, giving myself deadlines and targets, long before anyone cared.”
Dark Corners by Peterborough author Darren O’Sullivan is out in paperback, e-book and audiobook on April 2 and has been selected to be Karin Slaughter book club pick for April.
Follow Darren’s social media to hear him read from his previous novel, Close Your Eyes, each night at 9pm.
Photos: Thomas Byron Photography