Digital Book Nook recently caught up with Paul O’Neill, author of “The Nightmare Tree.” We are excited to share this insightful interview with our readers today.
When did you first discover that you enjoy writing and wanted to become a published author?
Writing is something that I’ve always done – it’s in my bones. I wrote my first book when I was nine. I can still remember how it felt when the teacher read it out in class (spelling mistakes and all!).
That said, it’s something I’ve drifted from and then drifted back to at various times in my life. It’s not until I reached my 30s that I had a real ‘it’s now or never moment’.
What is your favorite and the most challenging aspect of writing?
My favourite thing about writing is to see where the story goes – that moment of surprise when things happen that you didn’t anticipate. That and meeting new writers and readers. The writing community in particular is a very supportive place.
The most challenging thing? I think the first few years can be tough. Knowing you’ll probably throw out most of what you’ve written can be hard to swallow, but that’s the only way to improve.
What I struggle with now is knowing that there are stories that I’ll never get to write. I have lists and lists of ideas, and add to it all the time. Some of the stories on that list are dead already because they’ve been there so long. I’ve been focusing on being clear on what the ‘best’ ideas are so I can save them on time!
Tell us about your latest release.
The Nightmare Tree is my debut collection of short stories. With thirteen of what I think are my best tales so far, I’m hoping readers enjoy it. The reviews have all been very positive, which is a relief!
The stories cover a wide range of themes, mostly of what life is like growing up in a deprived area of Scotland. There’s a lot of stories in there that are close to being non-fiction entries. We really did go around collecting spiders in jam jars. We really did break the Plexiglass off bus stops to use as makeshift sleds (forgive us!).
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title of the book is the title of the novella that is the final tale in the collection. The Nightmare Tree appears and a man makes a wish he regrets. Little does he know, others have also made wishes.
What do you hope readers are able to get from reading your story?
A chance to forget about life and all its struggles, even if just for five minutes at a time. The world itself is one big horror story at the moment, so escapism has never been more important.
That, and I hope some laughs at the Scottish attitude which I’m told comes through loud and clear!
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Oh, the list could be endless. Right now, I’d have to say Shirley Jackson, John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Robert McCammon, Stephen King, etc.
Gemma Amor and Janine Pipe are two writers I’d say to keep an eye on.
Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
Given it’s my first release, I’m a little reluctant to dish out the advice. All I’d say is don’t rush it, and be honest about why you’re writing, and then lean into that with all you have.
The world is ready for your story.
The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill is available at Amazon and Amazon UK in paperback and on Kindle.