Episode # 26 – Using What You Know with John O’Brien

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John O'Briencover

In this weeks interview I talk to John O’Brien who has seen a great deal of success with his post-apocalyptic military thriller series “A New World.” We have a good chat about using knowledge you already have to make research easier, as well as others ways to get the facts straight in your books. In the later part of the interview we talk about bringing a cast together to produce an audiobook.

Links:

A New World

Amazon Profile

John’s Website

Show notes:

John first published in April 2011 and is the author of “A New World” series. The series is a post-apocalyptic thriller, and John is currently writing the 9th installment of the story.
John writes 3-4 books per year and emphasizes how he generally lets the books write themselves. He mentions that the story is just begging to be told. “I have the philosophy that I’m just kind of the conduit for the story, that if it goes down on the paper, it stays and I have to write my way around it.”

Preparation

Before writing begins, John loosely prepares the main characters, major scenes, where the story goes and how it ends. He basically has a set of scenes with an ending planned out, and lets the characters develop the rest themselves as he writes. During the writing process, while reflecting on the story, details may come to mind for him to jot down, and bigger ideas tend to come together out of the details he gets through inspiration.

Research

John has a military background and uses his experiences for most of his research. He’s a well traveled author, and has gone through four careers; thus, John has many experiences to draw from. He relies on his personal experience for most of his details and consistency, but is not afraid to use Google Earth to help refresh his memory. He does use tools like Google Earth to research places that he hasn’t been.

John likes to stick to writing about what he knows, but if the story develops an aspect that he doesn’t have the information for, typically another character develops out of that point as an expert.

John also relies on his fan base to provide further detailed information for his research. For instance, one fan messaged John through Facebook to tell him that he was a submarine crew member and that they no longer use technology that he included in his books. These fans can become research advisers for John to consult with on specific details.

Editing

John does use an editor to primarily proofread his work for grammar and “the usual stuff”. As in his research, fans have contacted him as fact checkers for the details in his story.

Quotes:

“I have the philosophy that I’m just kind of the conduit for the story, that if it goes down on the paper, it stays and I have to write my way around it.”

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Simon WhistlerEpisode # 26 – Using What You Know with John O’Brien