Today, met thriller writer Jenny O’Brien with her sea swimming and stories set in my chosen homeland of Wales. And on the plus side she’s a member of Crime Cymru too.
When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing about 13 years ago. The twins were 3 and I found that my life revolved around being a mother and working as a nurse – I wanted to reclaim a little slice back for me. I didn’t have time to write. The truth is I should have had more sense but there it is. I carried a small notepad in my scrub pocket, most nurses do the same as an aide-memoire but, instead of nursing stuff it quickly filled up with the story of a little boy who was being bullied. I wrote the story during my 15 minute coffee breaks at work and typed it up late in the evening when the kids were in bed. After six weeks I had a rough first draft of Boy Brainy, which I eventually self-published. I still work as a nurse but now the kids are teenagers and time isn’t quite as pressured. Looking back I must have been mad.
Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?
That’s an interesting question because my answer has changed over time. I started off writing for children, then romances. Now I write thrillers. In the early days I never thought I’d write about crimes against children and yet my first police procedural, Silent Cry, is just that. I suppose it’s not what I write about but how. I don’t write graphic novels. Yes, there does have to be an element of detail to support the story, but my writing isn’t gratuitous. It’s also not cosy – rather somewhere in the middle.
What do you like to do to relax when not writing?
I’m an avid reader and always have a book or three on the go. I don’t just stick to reading thrillers though. I dip in and out of most genres apart from sci fi, which I don’t really get. I’m also an all-year-round sea swimmer, which I’ve been doing now for about four years. Some days I think it’s the only thing that keeps me sane.
Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
I’m going to have to say Detective Gaby Darin. She’s a second-generation, Liverpudlian copper who’s short, round and feisty. Her downfall isn’t alcohol – it’s chocolate. I like her because she’s down to earth with a snappy line in dialogue, which I wouldn’t dare to repeat in real life. She features in my Welsh set police procedural series of which there’s six, 3 published and 3 in the pipeline. The first is Silent Cry, set in and around St David’s. Here’s the link Silent Cry: An absolutely addictive crime thriller with a shocking twist for fans of Angela Marsons and LJ Ross (Detective Gaby Darin, Book 1) eBook: O’Brien, Jenny: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
That’s a difficult question for a crime writer but I’m going to choose a character from my very first book, Boy Brainy. A bully called Guillim. I wrote the book to expunge some ghosts from my own childhood where bullying featured but in a way to put a positive slant on the experience. The book, through fiction, tries to raise the self esteem of children going through bullying. I’m not sure if it does but it has had some positive reviews. Here’s the link. It’s permanently free. Boy Brainy: (Mystery fantasy book for kids age 7-13 years) (Dai Monday 1) eBook: O’Brien, Jenny, Orme, Natasha: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Tell us about your last book…
My last book to be published was called Fallen Angel. It’s book three in my crime series. Set in Llandudno, it’s centred around an historic case: the body of eighteen-year old Angelica Brock found dead on the Great Orme wearing someone else’s nightdress. It’s a complex case with a sneaky double twist at the end.
Eighteen-year-old Angelica Brock is found dead at a local beauty spot, dressed in a pure white nightgown, her white-blonde hair arranged around her. For years her death is a mystery, her killer the one who got away for a whole generation of police.
For DS Gaby Darin, it’s not just any cold case – the victim is intimately linked to someone close to her, and emotions are high. But just as the team finds a breakthrough clue on Angelica’s nightdress, another case crashes into the station. Could they be linked? After all this time, can Gaby finally discover what really happened to Angelica?
What’s coming next…
Gaby Darin’s next case comes out in eBook in May, paperback in July. I don’t have a title or blurb that I’m allowed share as yet. My books don’t seem to follow a pattern although there’s usually a dead body or two. This one is about a ten-year old girl, Elodie Fry, who runs away from home only to join forces with a troubled teenager in a road trip across Wales. There’s also an issue at the local crematorium for Detective Darin to look into…
Born in Dublin, Jenny O’Brien moved to Wales and then Guernsey, where she tries to find time to write in between working as a nurse and ferrying around 3 teenagers.
In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.
Thank you Jenny, am impressed with the sea swimming – mostly because I know how cold the waters around the British Isles are and I’m not about to go jumping in there, you are a brave soul.
Tomorrow we’ll be meeting Paul Waters.