Today we are pleased to have Steve O’Brien with us. Mr. O’Brien is the author of Elijah’s Coin. An inspiring story about how simple it is to make a change in people’s lives.
Rhodes Review: What inspired the events of Elijah’s Coin?
Steve O’Brien: Some have asked if Elijah’s Coin is autobiographical in any way. It’s not, however the story weaves together personal experiences and those of friends and acquaintances. I wrote the story for my kids originally. I became troubled by their interest in pop culture and the ways that some develop fame. Many times it comes through dangerous or reckless behavior. Success had become living in the extreme, even crossing into unlawful behavior. I wanted my kids to know that success was very different from the way it is portrayed in modern media. So I wanted to create a fictional story that would provide lessons about real success and having a purpose in life.
Rhodes Review: What would you like people to come away with from Elijah?
Steve O’Brien: I want readers to learn the importance of giving and of kindness (no matter how corny that sounds) and to pay it forward. I was struck by a thought that at the end of your life, people won’t remember what kind of car you drove or what house you owned. They won’t remember anything about your “stuff.” They won’t even remember much about the things you did during your lifetime. Everyone you touch, however, will remember exactly how you made them feel. That comes back to how you treat others. So Elijah’s Coin is an attempt to get people to look outside themselves and look at the impact they can have on others—that is true success.
Rhodes Review: What is your background in writing?
Steve O’Brien: I have a journalism degree and worked as a sports writer in high school and college. I wrote several short stories, but wasn’t terribly interested in the publishing side—mostly it was for my own enjoyment. My legal career kind of overwhelmed my creative writing until the past few years. Elijah’s Coin had a very personal purpose. I didn’t really write it to publish, but people encouraged me to move forward with it. Oddly, I remembered how much fun writing is, so I have a few more projects I’m working on.
Rhodes Review: Did you always want to be a writer?
Steve O’Brien: Writing has always come kind of naturally to me. I guess I wanted to be a storyteller. That’s what drew me to the law. In a former life, I was a litigator and the challenge of explaining a complicated case to a jury was an opportunity to “tell a story.” To take facts and cast them into a description that is persuasive, yet true to the evidence. I’ve always felt that great litigators were great storytellers. They have to quickly and convincingly engage their audience more than any other type of storyteller. So even though I wasn’t doing hours of writing for some part of my life, I was still engaged in the craft.
Rhodes Review: Where do you get your muses?
Steve O’Brien: Two of the greatest words in the English language—“What if…” The core of every story can come back to one great “what if” question. I also love history. I’m not one for memorizing dates and events so much as taking the context of a historical situation and bringing it forward in time. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is an example of that historical shift, or works by James Rollins.
Also, my wife and I play a game when we are at a dinner or event. One will point out another table or group of people and say “what’s their deal?” The other will go into a long and detailed description (all imaginary) describing everything about their lives. It is a great exercise for character development and besides that it’s just plain fun.
Rhodes Review: What would you tell my readers who are interesting in writing?
Steve O’Brien: Write something every day. Read every day. Learn the craft. Stephen King said something that stuck with me. He said we don’t get to decide if our work has commercial value. Kind of an odd remark to inspire a writer, but the point is we have to be ourselves as writers. We have to develop our own style. If a writer tries to mimic a known, commercially successful author’s style, the work won’t have any sense of identity. Be yourself. You don’t need a license or anyone’s permission to be a writer. If it’s in you, only you can bring it out.
Rhodes Review: What other writing projects are you working on currently?
Steve O’Brien: In March my second novel, Bullet Work will be released. This is a very different book from Elijah’s Coin. It is a mystery suspense novel set at a thoroughbred race track. It is written in third person, so I have evolved to a different genre and style of writing. I also have a suspense thriller manuscript that is through the first draft. I still have a lot of work to do on that one.
Rhodes Review: Any appearances/announcements you’d like to mention?
Steve O’Brien: Bullet Work will be released March 22, 2011. If you are a mystery suspense fan, you’ll enjoy this book.
Thank you Mr. O’Brien for taking the time to visit with us here. You can read a review of Elijah’s Coin here.