Monday, December 2, 2013

Author Bio - Josh O'Brien

So, NaNoWriMo is over, but it's not forgotten!  This week, we're reviewing a NaNo author, Josh O'Brien.  See below for a short bio about him and an interview!

Josh O'Brien is a 17 year old author from Essex, who enjoys Fantasy and Sci-Fi novels, and is pursuing A-Level degrees in English Language & Literature, Sociology, Philosophy and Politics. With one and a half novels under his belt, he is making headway into a career in writing. He is currently juggling two demanding kittens with driving lessons and the continuation of his second novel, The Houdini Institute.

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.

Hi, I’m Josh. I’m 17 and I live in Essex. I’ve been writing stories since I was a very young child, and have always had a huge passion for reading and writing. I’ve only written one book so far, but I am around 60,000 words throught the second, thanks to NaNoWriMo 2013! My first is called Supercenaries, and here is a short synopsis.

Supercenaries is a novel which follows a group of people from all around the world, of different ages, races, colours, creeds and professions, who all share one common characteristic. They all have superpowers. From Houdini, the Canadian escape artist with the ability to slip any sort of restraint, to Dr Howard Stadter, an American scientist and professor who can expel bursts of high powered energy from his hands, they all use their powers for different things and live their lives differently. They are brought together by the mysterious Supercenary corporation, a company which works outside of the law, comprised entirely of people with abilities, to act as mercenaries, assassins, thieves, bodyguards and any other possible profession, for money. The corporation is headed by the enigmatic Rhian Blaznickov, a tall, seemingly ageless man with a power that even he does not fully understand. Supercenaries follows the main characters as they join up and train, only to become part of a conspiracy and war taking place within the Corporation. Suddenly people start dying on jobs, being assassinated during their missions, clearly by someone with insider knowledge. From that moment the race is on to find out who the spy is or if there are multiple, and to find out their motives for destroying the Supercenary Corporation.

My second, and the one I am currently working on, is called The Houdini Institute, and is about two students who go to a college for the arcane and the magical, as well as the supernatural.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My latest book that is out is Supercenaries. The name comes from the two main topics. Super(heroes) and Mercenaries. At first, Supercenaries was simply a working title for a book that I had no ideas for the name of. But once I had finished Supercenaries I had become so attached to the name that letting go of it and changing it was simply not an option. Also, I still had no idea for a better title! The book itself draws inspiration from a lot of media that I am a fan of. Shows like Heroes, Alphas and the like gave me the interest in writing about people with abilities, and the amount of comics and films I have read/watched meant that I’ve always wanted to write about mercenaries. I started Supercenaries with a general idea for the concept, and was immediately taken with it, to the point of getting a whole novel written and edited within 4 months.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

When I write, I use a website called with settings enabled which make me write to a certain wordcount, and if I stop writing for more than 5 seconds at a time, then it begins to delete what I have already written. This means I can get 2000 or so words smashed out very quickly, because of the motivation of the possible loss of what I have already written. Then when I reach the wordcount, I take the stuff I have just written and refine it to get a better end result.

I am also a huge fan of writing very late at night/early in the morning. I like being completely focused, so I use Ommwriter which hides everything except what I am writing, and stops me from becoming distracted, and the time I write at means that there is nobody awake to distract or confuse me as I write.

What authors, or books have influenced you?

Oh, so many. Darren Shan firstly, my absolute favourite author (who I was lucky enough to meet and present with a copy of Supercenaries recently) has been a big influence in the way I write, because I try to emulate how easy to read his books are. I am influenced by any book I read however, since I am constantly on the look out for literary devices, small ideas and ways of saying things that I can pinch. For example, I read a book which had a small description of each chapter under the heading, and I completely adored that idea, so I added it into Supercenaries.

What are you working on now?

Currently I am around 60,000 words into The Houdini Institute. This novel, The Houdini Institute, is about a magical school and two students. Mark and Lorna, who go there. One of them is expelled and is forced to undergo five challenges relating to the subjects they have been taught, with no tuition, to ensure they can regain their place. Understandably, this puts strain on their friendship, amplified by the mysterious Prodi. I got just over 14,000 words in and then my computer lost the file. I stupidly hadn’t backed it up at all, so I lost every single bit of work that I had done on it. This was a huge crusher for my motivation and confidence, and so I waited all the time from March until November to restart and write those 14,000 again. Only this time, they brought friends!

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?

I’m not really very good at self promotion, but I have been emailing review websites for a number of days to try and get some reviews out into the world.

Do you have any advice for new authors?


Seriously, it may seem like obvious advice but I CANNOT stress enough the importance of just writing. Forget editing, forget publishing, forget advertising and sales and marketing and reviews and everything like that and just focus on getting words on paper (or screen). DO NOT EDIT AS YOU GO! If you edit as you go, you will end up spending weeks just writing one chapter for gods sake and you will never ever get a finished novel done. Get the whole book written, then go back and edit. If you have a few friends/teachers (my PE teacher was incredibly helpful with editing) or family who will help, then get them to proofread it, and note down any sort of spelling errors, plot inconsistencies, bits that aren’t obvious and general flaws. Then go back to the start of your novel and read it over. Change any faults, add and remove at your leisure and finally sit back and smile to yourself.

If you're going for Self Publishing, I would recommend using Createspace to print your books, they’re easy to use and lightning quick. Finally, using the Kindle Direct Publishing service on Amazon is super simple and can really boost your sales and exposure.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?

“Just keep writing no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you do well or not well, if you sell 1 copy or 100,000, if people love it or hate it, just KEEP WRITING. Because if you enjoy writing, and you want to do it, then there is nothing stupider than letting something stop you.”

What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell, as well as copious amounts of Harry Potter fanfiction (don't judge me) because it's magical and new so I can get a different perspective on magic, in a system that works very differently to the system of the HI.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Next I want to get my second novel done and dusted, then focus on marketing that one. Everything I did with Supercenaries has been a learning experience, and I think that when it comes to my second book I will be much better at every aspect of publishing and writing. Also, I’m learning to drive, which is nice . (Read: Terrifying)

What is your favorite book of all time?

Easily “The Saga of Darren Shan” series. I can’t pick a specific one, but all 12 are incredible.

Thanks so much, Josh!  Stick around for our review of his book, Supercenaries, on Friday.

Want to know more about Josh O'Brien?  Check out his Facebook and his You Tube Channel!


  1. This was a good interview. He sounds like a sweet guy. That first book sounds interesting, and its funny that he mentioned Heroes as an influence because that's immediately what I thought of when I first started reading his plot synopsis,

    1. And it reads very much like Heroes (which I like.)

      I always like doing NaNo authors, because they give us so much to work with!