Tell us a bit about your family. I’m the first of six kids. My parents are missionary educators. We lived in Jamaica for six years, then the Philippines for fourteen years after that. We are the kind of family to come home from a vacation with a few near-death experiences and a lot of stories to laugh about.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear? I focus on the story. I try to let things unfold as naturally as possible, letting characters speak and act for themselves. I want to tell a true story, even if it’s fiction. It’s got to be true to the regrets, fears, joys, sorrows, hopes, and desires that we feel and that motivate us. When that self-doubt still doesn’t abate, I remind myself that this is just the first draft… or second, third, fourth, fifth. “There will always be room for correction and perfection later,” I tell myself. “Right now what matters is getting the words on the page and doing it as naturally as possible.” That typically works.
What scares you the most? Failing. I think it’s what scares most of us. We are scared of failing, so we don’t try. Instead of venturing off to new frontiers, we stay where it is safe and comfortable. We are scared of failing at romance, being rejected and looking stupid, so we settle into a comfortable groove in our marriage where we know what to expect and what’s expected of us. We do the same at our jobs and at parenting. And some of us have a story inside us that we want to tell, but we’re afraid we won’t do it well enough, so we make excuses and find reasons not to write it out. So, I guess if I had to be honest, it would be that I’m scared I’ll fail as an author, that people will not like what I have to say, and that I won’t be able to lead and provide for my family. Wow, this is getting heavy.
What makes you happiest? That’s a tough question. I’ve got a brilliant wife and a one-year-old boy who takes more joy in playing with a clothespin than most people do in driving a Ferrari. Spending time with them is definitely at the top of the list of things that make me happiest. Helping someone who can’t give anything back is a good feeling too. When it comes to writing, finishing a good scene and feeling like it says what I’m trying to say in a unique way makes me happy, but not as happy as when someone reads it and tells you how good it actually is.
What’s your greatest character strength? I take criticism well. My grandfather said, “I’ve never grown from a compliment, but I have grown from criticism.” Most of the time there’s something to gain when someone criticizes you. It’s a gift. You just have to unwrap it. Throw away the parts that are just hurtful, and keep that little bit of insight that gives you the opportunity to do things a little differently next time. That being said, I welcome dialogue with people that have read my work. I’ve got a blog and would love to hear from you about ideas you’ve got, things you didn’t like, and, of course, things you enjoyed about the novel (because, let’s be honest, we may not grow from compliments, but they do feel pretty good).
Why do you write? Writing combines three things that I love: people, the act of creating through words, and tackling life’s tough questions. Writing and reading give you the opportunity to view the world and your own life with all its problems and possibilities through someone else’s eyes. As a writer you get to experience that most deeply. You truly embody that character whom you are writing at that moment (or they embody you. It’s debatable). Then the challenge is to communicate clearly and creatively so that someone else can experience that same change of perspective.
“I am hurtling eight stories to the pavement. There’s a bullet in my left shoulder and another chewing through my lung. I am going to die.” – Shirley O’Shea
When Shirley got out of prison three years ago, he committed himself to being there for his sister, Haley, and his aunt, Winnie–the only family he has left. Then he met Isaac, a man with connections to his grandfather and to the IRA. Isaac said he owed Shirley’s family a favor: deliver a package and get some money. But things are never that simple, are they? What should have been an easy drop-off blows Shirley’s world apart. Now he’s on the run, a continent away from those he loves, trying to figure out what he’s gotten himself into, who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in order to keep his family safe.
But Shirley has a few skeletons of his own banging on the closet doors, and the hinges are starting to come off.
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Genre - Thriller
Rating – R
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