Today I am fortunate to have the incredible Mr. John O'Brien, author of the A New World series. His seventh in the series, A New World: Takedown just released on the 28th of April and is garnering rave reviews. So, without any delay, here he is...Mr. John O'Brien.
What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Besides telling the actual story, I would have to say my favorite aspect is interacting with readers. I won’t lie in that I enjoy hearing that people are enjoying the books.
What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?
I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how well the books were received. The responses and reviews were, and continue to be, quite humbling. I honestly never expected for the series to be read as much as they are – it has far exceeded any expectations I ever had.
I don’t know if it’s an actual lesson per se, but the amount of time spent on all activities involved with being a write caught me a little off guard. There are so many avenues that the books can take and trying to keep up makes for twelve to sixteen hour days at times.
What can you share about your writing process?
I don’t know that I have an actual writing process. I have an idea about where each book will end and some of the major events that I want to happen, but how the story gets there is up to the story itself. I sit down to type and the story takes off from that point. I have little control over where it goes and, at times, I’m just as surprised as anyone else by what happens. The ideas just form as I go, I take notes on ideas that form as the story unfolds, and I just write.
You do not shy away from the military jargon, but you find ways to fold it in so that non-military types understand. Did you/do you wrestle with how technical to get?
I don’t know if wrestle is the right word. In the first book, Chaos, I do think I was a little too detailed and technical. I read each and every review that gets posted and they definitely showed this trend. It took me a while to find my “voice” with writing, but once I did, it just flows without me having to think too much about whether it is too technical or not. Some readers like the technical aspects and some don’t, so I try to keep the balance between them.
What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
That is a good question which has been debated and talked about ad-infinitum. So rather that rehash this, here are my thoughts about both paths. I think either avenue can benefit an author depending on what they want to get out of it. Traditional publishers offer avenues for publication that aren’t necessarily available to the Indie authors. Indie authors have the freedom to do what they want with their work and generally have much higher royalty percentages. I believe the industry to be wide open for whatever avenue an author would like to take for their work. I think this is best for the readers as they now have greater choices in what they would like to read instead of the market being determined by what the traditional publishers take to market. There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there that may not normally have their works available to be read.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?
That’s a tough question because “issues” seems like such a negative term. I think it’s important that authors realize that we aren’t in competition with each other, but rather foster each other’s works. I haven’t really observed this myself but I have heard of it happening.
The social media is…
I think social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch with readers. Some of the social media experts say pick three and focus on those. For me, I’m lucky to keep track of one. So, I’ve chosen Facebook as my online representation, if you will. I’ve found I’m a horrible blogger and am lucky to get out one blog every month or so.
Share some information about your work with us:
I’ve had these various stories/scenarios floating around my head for several years. Most of the scenarios were about survival and what better survival situation than in a post-apocalyptic world. I started reading several books in the zombie genre and the light bulb went off one night – why don’t I put these stories together and write them? And so, the series was born one winter evening and I began writing the very next morning. I had planned on the series being a trilogy at best, but the story just took off once I really became immersed in it. The characters came to life and they called for their story to be told.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
I can honestly say that there isn’t any question that comes to mind. Although it may sound like a cliché, I do appreciate all of them.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I look at the negative reviews as I do any of the others. Everyone has their opinion and I get just as much out of the negative ones as I do the positive reviews. As long as they denote what they were unsatisfied about, I take those in. My feeling is that I can become a better writer by seeing how the books are received from every angle.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I don’t get in nearly as much reading as I used to. I was quite the avid reader, but my time writing has taken a little away from that. I certainly do believe that a writer can excel by reading. But that’s just me. I look at how other writers use descriptive terms and set up situations. One thing I do try to stay away from while writing is reading in the same genre. There are so many great authors within the genre that I want to read but, for me, I don’t want to sully my story, subconsciously or otherwise, by reading their ideas.
Is there an ending in your mind for your series, and what is next after the A New World series?
I do have an ending in mind for the series, but it may take a few more books to get to that point. I have just published the seventh book and the story is only about four months along. This was quite a surprise that the books took this tact/pace. As far as what is next, I have another series in mind which will be fun to write when I get to it. I try not to think too much about that one as I want to concentrate fully on this series in order to give it the concentration it deserves – the readers deserve my full attention on the series at hand.
I have seen your titles in the top 10 (to clarify…I mean on actual sales lists) on many occasions, but in nothing I have read do I see the title “Best Selling Author” preceding your name. Do ‘Best seller’ lists still have value?
I think the best seller list has tremendous value for the readers. I’ll be honest, and this may sound a little lame, but I’m not one that needs or wants that kind of spotlight. I’m not saying others who do this are like that in any way, it’s just that, well, honestly, I’ve never thought about it.
What projects are you currently working on?
Besides having just published the seventh book in the series and planning on the eighth, Mark Tufo and I are working on a collaboration novel together where we get Mike Talbot and Jack Walker together. We have titled the work, A Shrouded World. We don’t have a publication date as yet but will have it out sometime this year.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
Amazon recently unveiled their “Author Ranking” list. You stay consistently in the Top 20 for horror writers. Do you see any benefit, or is it much ado about nothing?
I’m not sure really what people look at when deciding on their purchases. For me, it’s an indication of how well the books are being received and rather humbling to say the least. I believe it could be another avenue for readers to take when searching for books.
Any ambition to see your titles on the big screen? If so, which one(s)?
I would very much enjoy seeing the series either on the big screen or as a TV series. Of course, every author would enjoy seeing their titles put into a movie.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
Car payment, taxes, and insurance. Okay, I’m kidding, I paid my taxes.
Amazon author page: