Neil O'Donnell

Neil O'Donnell

About Me

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Buffalo, New York, United States
Nationally certified career coach with expertise in writing résumés and cover letters for professionals around the world. 15+ years of focus helping new graduates and seasoned professionals find good jobs.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

K. Patrick Malone

This week’s interview is with K. Patrick Malone. His latest work, THE DIGGER’S REST, chronicles “the journey of a motley team of art archaeologists sent to excavate a newly discovered castle ruin in the South West of England in search of proof of King Arthur. What they uncover, however, is a legend much older; more mind rending and soul shredding than anything they could ever have conceived with an ending that is nothing less than "biblically operatic" in proportion.”

Which 3 authors would you recommend all writers read?

Well this is a very broad question, so I guess I'll answer it the best way I know how. Firstly, I'm a secret classicist, so my initial response would be:

#1: Emile Zola, all novels from beginning to end, "Nana, The Human Best, Therese Raquin, Truth et at) Laymen would probably recognize the name from history because he was the champion of the wrongly convicted Alfred Dreyfuss of the infamous "Dreyfuss Affain" of 19 th Century France (See the film, "The Life of Emila Zola" from the 1930's featuring the Academy Award Winning performances by Paul Muni as Zola and Joseph Schildkraut as Dreyfuss. No writer, past or present, has captured the real "truth" of human nature like Zola.

#2: Charles Dickens, all novels from beginning to end ( particular favorites are Nicholas Nickelby (featured quote in the opening of my own "The Digger's Rest," Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities et al). Not quite a contemporary of Zola ( earlier by fifty or so years) Where Zola saw the real truth in the negative side of human nature but without redemption, Dickens saw the real truth in the negative side of human nature but always found the bright shining ( and rare) ligh of human nature as we could be and should be.

#3: Charlotte Bronte, her seminal work of "Jane Eyre" more than making up for the lack of quantity of her library (and featured in my own work in "An Unfinished House." Giving forth what I call the absolutely most romantic passage in all of English literature, "The Proposal". . . " I have a queer notion when I am close to you like this etc etc etc)

Now for the good stuff, my genre.

#1: Shirley Jackson, her, in my mind, perfect ghost story, "The Haunting of Hill House," is without a doubt the "smoke and mirrors" scare of the last century. Who can ever forget Little Nell asking, "Who was holding my hand?" Doesn't get any better than this.

#2: Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw perfectly combines the elements of malevolence with mystery for a stunningly realistic look at the supernatural for its time.

#3: Stephen King's "The Shining," one of the only times the prolific Mr. King created what could be considered timeless masterpieces of what scares us most.

Which authors impacted most on your writing style?

As mentioned above, I cannot seem to get away from my classic literature roots, Zola, Dickens and Bronte, but here I would add the odd addition of the hard boiled detective novels of the early 20th Century, Dashiell Hammett ( most notably "The Maltese Falcon," although the rest of his library is equally impressive), Raymond Chandler ( most notably "Farewell, My Lovely" but whose library is as equally large and impressive as Hammett's, and James M. Cain ( most notably "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Double Indemnity," and "Mildred Pierce." These authors had a punch rat- at- tat -tat cadence to them that reflected a new voice in men's voice novels. I don't know what I would have ever doe without their influence allowing me to believe than men's voice novels didn't all have to be . . . Ernest Hemingway. Thanks, guys!

What is your favorite element in your book (character, theme, setting, etc.)?

My all time favorite element is, of course, the characters. Without compelling characters, one doesn't really have a book, do they? And the best way to write a character is to love them, good characters and not so good characters alike, you've got to love them all to bring them to life and make them come alive for the reader.

What was your favorite part of the writing process?

Oddly enough, my favorite part of my writing process is when I put the words "The End" on the last page. My books are such an investment of intense emotional upheaval that when I've completed a book, I feel like I need to take more vitamins and retire to my bed for a week with a box of Kleenex to recover.

What about the publishing process most shocked you?

The abject rudeness of so called literate and literary professionals.

What advice do you wish you’d received before you started searching for a publisher?

Don't be naive and expect that any of us will be in any way be appreciated as artists instead of commodities.

What advice would you give to writers trying to publish their first book?

Keep trying, its like dating, sometimes one has to kiss a lot of frogs before one finds their prince or princess. Become thick skinned. Rejection is everywhere. If your art has any real merit, someone somewhere at some time will see it and give you a chance. Take a chance on small press publishers. We could all be long in the grave before the muckety mucks at Random House or Simon and Schuster decide that Margaret Mitchell really won't drop out of heaven and toss the true sequel to "Gone with the Wind" in theirs laps out of the goodness of her heart like manna from heaven.

Thanks to Kevin for answering my questions.

Happy Holidays to all!!!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

D. Kevin Singleton: Author of ‘The Longinus Quest’

This week’s interview is with D. Kevin Singleton.

A former US Army Airborne Ranger, Drill Sergeant, Engineer and a prolific Writer of adventure stories, D. Kevin Singleton has traveled and worked extensively throughout Asia, Europe and South America to include Australia and New Zeeland. He currently lives in North East Arkansas and Western Michigan with his wife and two daughters where he writes and works in defense contracting.

1) Which 3 authors would you recommend all writers read?

The three authors that I would recommend for writers to read is Robert Ludlum, he provides an expertise and detail to his writing that I feel is missing from others that work in his genre. John Steinbeck, his ability to show the conflicts between man and the world we live in has always intrigued me. Last but not lest in my view is a writer that most people may not recognize by the name of Barry Sadler. Barry Sadler wrote a series of paper backs titled Casca, The Eternal Warrior. When I was a young soldier I would set at night in the bottom of a machine gun nest and read these books by flashlight. The theme of these books was an immortal warrior that is introduced at the crucifixion of Christ and continues on through the Viet Nam War. In my opinion I learned a lot about character development from his work.

2) Which authors impacted most on your writing style?

When most people read my book one of the first questions that I hear is are you a Dan Brown fan? While I enjoy his work to a point, the influence that caused me to write in the same or similar genre was the discovery of my fifth generation grandfather William D. Singleton and his involvement in the Revolution and the early Masons of this country. Perhaps authors like Ernest Hemmingway, Falkner, to John Grisham might have had some influence. After all they all have ties to or are from the Mid South where I grew up. Perhaps it is the magic of the land and people of the Mississippi Delta that has had the greatest influence on the styles of writer’s from this area.

3) What is your favorite element in your book (character, theme, setting, etc.)?

The favorite elements of my book have to be writing about the settings and themes. How a guy like me can go from working in cotton fields to traveling around the world is still a mystery to me. I have worked and lived in more countries then I have fingers and toes. Sharing these experiences with the reader is a way I give back a piece of the adventures I have known. I spend months researching the alternative history that I share in my writings when developing the theme. It was Mark Twain that said and I paraphrase, “History is what they want you to remember about an event. The news reports the facts of an event. Fiction tells you what really happened.” The information that I uncovered during the research for The Longinus Quest at times was dumbfounding. However, when you look at the evidence even though it might be circumstantial it makes the reader say, “So that is what really happened.”

4) What was your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process is the therapeutic benefit that I get from it. Stepping out into the dangerous world will change a man forever. You have never felt more alive until that moment that you face death. For those of us who survive it life has a meaning that the protected will never know. Men who gain this understanding pay the price of losing their place in a world that no longer understands them. You never truly fit back into society. Writing gives me a means to try and explain why I seem so strange. Guys like me who jump out of airplanes, wade through swamps, and chop through jungles are just a different breed apart from the average Joe. Don’t mistake this as a boast. There have been many times I wished I wasn’t.

5) What about the publishing process most shocked you?

What shocked me the most about the publishing process was the arrogance that writers face when dealing with agents and publishers. I wonder how many great writers are out there that will never be discovered because some intern barely out of puberty was too busy texting to give a submitted manuscript the attention it deserved. I guess that is why I feel so much gratitude to my current publisher. He took the time to actually read my writing, imagine that. Once I sent a query off to an agent that said she specialized in historical fiction. Like many times before she sent the standard rejection letter. This time it was with a suggestion that perhaps I write a non fiction book about the Templar Knights and the Knights of Malta if they really existed. If they really existed! Here was an agent who claimed to represent historical fiction and she didn’t even know if the Templar Knights and the Maltese Knights were real.

6) What advice do you wish you’d received before you started searching for a publisher?

I wished I had an experienced writer to tell me to be a bit humble about my work. I wasted a lot of time trying to get agent representation and submitting to the big publishing houses. The chances that you are going to run into an agent like J.K. Rowling did are a billion to one. I wasted a lot of time trying to contact John Grisham. Since he and I are from the same home town I thought he could help get me on the inside to an agent or big publisher. He never once contacted me back.

7) What advice would you give to writers trying to publish their first book?

Who am I to give advice to anyone? A man will hear what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. At the risk of being ignored I will offer this. Write about what you know. My homeboy John Grisham is a lawyer and that is what he writes about. Dan Brown’s character Robert Langdon is an academic. That is what he knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all find out one day that J.K. Rowling is a witch. I am not saying that it should dictate the genre you work in. A lawyer can get caught up in an international terrorist conspiracy just as easy as a CIA agent. However, it is hard for anyone to believe that a lawyer could pick up an MP-5 assault weapon and take out a five man clearing team from Langley. I am currently working on a screenplay about an airborne ranger that survives a massacre in Afghanistan only to find out that his miraculous survival was due to him being a werewolf. It is a total different genre then The Longinus Quest but again it is what I know. Not about being a werewolf but about being a special ops soldier although my wife may argue that I know a bit about the first part as well. To me the story is the most important but don’t forget the writing fundamentals. Don’t be ashamed if you slept through English 101 and 102 in college like I did to seek out assistance to polish your work. Don’t be embarrassed about it. Most college English professors have never attempted to write a book. You have already accomplished more then them. Above all keep at it never surrender. It is pretty cool to walk into Barnes & Noble and see your work on the shelf.

Be sure to check out Singleton’s most recent work, ‘The Longinus Quest’

The Longinus Quest
When demoted C.I.A. Agent Trevor Hawk is assigned the uncomplicated task of having stolen artifacts identified, he discovers that he is entrapped in a vortex of mystical legends that warp the senses. In what seems to be an unreal world, a secret group of American Masons known as the Knights of Athena protect the true source of American power, the Spear of Longinus. In a fatal contest between the decedents of the famed Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta, supported by their ruthless assassins known as The Hasshishans, Trevor Hawk finds himself caught up in the battle for the possession of the this implement of incredible power. Having been declared a Rogue Agent and not knowing what side to fight on, Hawk finds himself dead center in what would be an amusing flight into fantasy, except for one small problem: everyone wants him dead!

Thanks to D. Kevin Singleton for answering my questions.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rudy Dunnigan

To say that author Rudy Dunnigan leads a hectic life is an understatement. Check out a glimpse of his bio below:

"A Graduate of the University of Kentucky, College of Dentistry and a practicing dentist for more than forty years, Dr. Rudy Dunnigan has been a student of the human psyche for more than five decades. Despite his hectic schedule, Rudy found time to serve his neighbors as a two-term member of the Ashland Kentucky Independent Board of Education. After this sacrifice, rather than allow Dr. Dunnigan to return to his practice, his community called upon him to serve two terms as Mayor of Ashland."

Add to this experience his recent publication of BOONE SPRINGS, I'd say Rudy's a busy man.

His book, BOONE SPRINGS, is described here:

"Take sex and drugs and a man who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Mix with murder, kidnapping and rape. Stir in violence, vengeance and revenge and the result is an explosive situation that is a danger to everyone. Add a neurotic psychopath wearing a sheriff’s badge and carrying a gun plus a husband seeking to avenge the rape and murder of his wife and you’ll have Boone Springs; the provocative, often vicious, saga of a plethora of fascinating characters.
A good brother and an amoral brother. A good cop and an evil cop. Two unusual, bitter-sweet love stories. Altogether, a captivating story of good versus evil and there’s no guarantee that good will win. A page-turner of the first quality.

As for Dunnigan's inspiration and interests, his answers to my endless questions speak volumes.

1) Which 3 authors would you recommend all writers read? John Steinbeck, Robert Penn Warren and Ernest Hemingway.

2) Which authors impacted most on your writing style? Each of the above impacted my writing in some way. I have always wished to have the talent to string words together in the way that Robert Frost did.

3) What is your favorite element in your book (character, theme, setting, etc.)?I presented an opportunity to describe a much misunderstood people i.e. those living in Eastern Kentucky. Much like everyone else they are the best and the worst, but there is a charm about the area that needs to be experienced by everyone.

4) What was your favorite part of the writing process?Being almost amazed at the torrent at which the words come when the inspiration is there.

5) What about the publishing process most shocked you?The number of authors who at any given time are trying to be published. That number runs to 250,000. Query letters are vital . . . spend a lot of thought and time when writing one.

6) What advice do you wish you’d received before you started searching for a publisher?Beware of some agents and some publishers. It is so important to research the publisher/agent before you commit to them.

7) What advice would you give to writers trying to publish their first book? Write and rewrite and rewrite. Be sure that the product is your best effort before you begin to market it. When you think it's ready, have confidence in your work and be persistent. You most likely will have many, many refusals before you are successful.

Thanks to Rudy for taking the time to answer my questions!