Paraic O’Donnell

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 2nd March 2016

After College Paraic entered the translation industry, working in IT. He continues to work there.

In 2011 Paraic joined Twitter, and began to put together spontaneous fiction in serialised form. Starting small, after a while, his prose started to be noticed.

“I began with The Cocktail Hour, writing on Friday evenings, over the course of several hours. It was a form of online busking with recurring characters.”

He gained interest from an agent, who asked to see what he had written.

“I wrote the first chapter. He liked it and asked to see more. That’s when I wrote the novel. It took nine months.”

In 2014, agent Lucy Luck found a publisher in 8 days.

“She finalised the deal as she was clearing security on the way to the Frankfurt Book Fair.”

Who is Paraic O’Donnell 

Date of birth: 11th March, 1973 in Dublin.

Education: Presentation College, Bray. University College Dublin, English. Trinity College Dublin, Linguistics.

Home:  Bray, County Wicklow.

Family: Wife, Sinéad; Sophia, 9, Jacob, 4.

The Day Job: Works in IT. “It’s interesting, and involves a lot of travel.”

Interests:  Hill Walking; gardening; making bread.

Favourite Writers: Ali Smith; Marilynne Robinson; Susanna Clarke; George Eliot; Iris Murdoch; Dodie Smith.

Second Novel: “It’s well under way and is contracted.”

Top Tip: There’s far too much advice for writers. Don’t listen to it. I broke all the rules. Write the book you must write.

Web:  Twitter: @paraicodonnell

The Debut: The Maker of Swans: Weidenfeld & Nicolson: €19.50.  Kindle: €10.94. 

Set in a once grand house, this debut starts with a crime of passion. Mr Crowe, a man of mysterious gifts, kills his new love, Arabella’s former suitor, and attracts the attention of a secret society, leaving Eustace, Crowe’s employee, to sort out the mess.

And what of Clara, the mute child who wanders the house freely. Who is she, and what is her value to the adults?

“The first chapter emerged more or less entire, but I had no idea where the book was going; Clara was a complete surprise to me. I like the not knowing. The novel came in exactly the sequence that it now appears.” 

The Verdict: Weird and wonderful; a compulsive tale with elements of the gothic and fantastical. 

Published in The Irish Examiner on 27th February.

© Sue Leonard. 2016

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