Interview with Brick ONeil

Published 2013-08-23.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
l grew up in America’s heartland, the midwestern United States, earning a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies then moving to the southern United States for my Masters in Human Resources. The midwestern United States has good, old fashioned values, family means everything and the food is fresh. People were open and honest with their emotions, so there were a lot of raw emotions for a young writer-in-training to absorb, which comes in handy with my Novels. You can see that in alot of the characters from "The Rose Petal Wine Murder Mysteries".

Fresh foods were always available at Mom's table growing up, so that certainly influenced my cooking, in addition to health issues as an adult, that forced me to learn how to shop, cook and prepare fresh, natural foods, as close to natural and whole as possible. Mom was always shopping for fresh vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, and potatoes. Lord love a duck, she certainly loved her potatoes and gravy! At almost every meal and twice on Sundays. So Mom and her cooking are never far behind in my cookbook series "Simple, Healthy, Fresh", as you read in the forwards.

I moved around a lot after high school, living in, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas for some time before settling in the Pacific Northwestern coast, in the Emerald City, Seattle. I was able to experience alot more out of life than I would have, staying in the same small home town I grew up in.
When did you first start writing?
During English classes as an Undergraduate, I can remember writing for assignments, enjoying peppering the papers, essays and research papers with descriptions, people, places, emotions and so forth. I enjoyed the process very much, but unfortunately, none of my English teachers did. They consistently marked me off for my writing, stating to 'cut the prose' and 'don't be so descriptive'. Afterwards, I never wrote again, never getting encouragement from anywhere.

It wasn't until after my kidney transplant in 2003 that my then husband encouraged me to start my first Novel, Aside of Murder. I had always had ideas tucked in the back of my mind for the first few books in the series, but never had the courage or push to actually set the ideas down in written form. That first Novel took me two years to write, but I had the idea rolling around in my mind for over twenty!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind my latest book that has been published, is the second in "The Rose Petal Wine Murder Mysteries", "The Bamboo Killer". I had always intended for it to be the second in the series and had a general framework for it. The general idea behind the second Novel was a serial killer focusing on young men. You never see or hear about those in the news, media or in stories. There are a plethora of serial killer novels targeting female prostitutes, the homeless or other vulnerable people. I wanted to show that there were killers who could and did focus on a group that could have been more of a challenge to them.

During the novel, I try to show what goes through his mind, before, during and after a murder. That was the most difficult, focusing on what that mindframe would be. Other parts of the book flowed much easier, familiar characters, other new characters that surprised me. And there are a few that will most certainly be making appearances in future books in the series!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The biggest motivation for me to become an indie author or self-published was so many doors slamming in my face. I can remember preparing and sending off book proposals to agents and publishing houses. They were time consuming (depending on what was required in the proposal--synopsis and letter of intent, to a full seven item package!). They could get very expensive, with duplicate requests, copies, postage and SASEs. After a few years of that, and realizing I wasn't getting any younger, I did some research and found that for my needs, Smashwords was the best possible option for getting my novels and books out there. Even if no one is looking.

Another reason is I'm not answerable to any one else but me. I can decide what to include in a book, series or novel. My ideas are included, not a committee or what a publishing house decides what is 'selling' or not. If I get an idea, I can write and publish. There are no deadlines, only what I push myself to do and I discovered long ago that I wasn't going to give myself ulcers writing twenty pages a day like you see some writers doing. If I do that, and have, I will burn out and not want to write.

Plus, I can competitively price my books how I see fit. I see what price points are moving what isn't and in what categories for which genres. I keep in mind that people's pocketbooks are tight these days, so anyone can afford any one of my books.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I seem to have already answered that in the last question.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Every writer's greatest joy is knowing people are reading, appreciating and understanding what you wrote, why you wrote it and how you wrote it. Unfortunately, not every book or author is going to have readers, feedback or reviewers. So, in that case, as I can understand, I take joy in knowing I've written a book to the very best of my ability, knowing my strengths and weaknesses. My greatest strength is being a very creative writer and my greatest weakness is editing/proofreading. I know and embrace this! I enjoy getting a story down, describing a scene or a character's motivation, however subtle it may be.

I know not everyone will 'get' or 'understand' what I write, but I know someone will and that is my greatest joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are the gold bars of fortune for writers! Fans aren't afraid to love something or to dislike something! Sometimes they are so hard to come by, or rather, it's so hard to get fans to open up, especially on social media. Some are so afraid to post a comment or write a review. I've had so many send me private messages telling me how much they liked a particular article, book or piece I've written, but do not want to commit or publically comment. That's ok, because I know for every fan that comes forward, even in a private message, there are ten more that, for some reason, do not want to comment, even in private. I know they are out there.

That is the gold standard!
What are you working on next?
Right now I am taking a break, having written six books in the last 18 months. I wrote the second book in the Novel series, I wrote two cookbooks, two books of short stories and a short biography. Even though some of the are really short books, they still are time consuming, so I was consistently working on something almost every week. Doing research, thinking of a plot line or a character's motivation. That, to me, is mentally wearing, no matter what anyone says!

Having said that, I am slowly working on the third book in "The Rose Petal Wine Murder Mysteries". There are a lot of new characters, new locations, some new plotlines, as well as a familiar, revisited one. I'm including what may be a socially unheard of coming-of-age for a minor character. This will, hopefully, encourage people to think in much more broad terms. Overall, it will be about as complex as book one was, diverging stories, multiple locations and hopefully, interesting people. And, of course, I have a blog page on my website,, that I post to a few times a week.
Who are your favorite authors?
My most favorite author is Madeleine L'Engle! I grew up on her 'Quartet Series' and many of her other childhood books. My favorite book of hers is "A Severed Wasp"! It continues some characters from one of her childhood books as older adults, describing the lives they had, what they lived through. I read something new each time I read it! At each age I get, there is something or someone in the story I can empathize with. Now that is the sign of a good writer.

More contemporary writers I enjoy are Sue Grafton--now there is one talented and gifted writer. Of course I've read all the Alphabet Murders so far and looking forward to "W". Other Mystery writers I've enjoyed are Kevin O'Brien, Giles Blunt, Sam Bourne, Heather Graham, Kathleen McGowan, I could go on and on.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Now that's a good question. Coffee? Hunger comes in at a close second.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm actively writing, I spend a lot of time thinking of character's motivations, plot lines, subplots, how to weave items, stories and people together. I spend a lot of time inside myself. I try to think of the stories in different ways, from different viewpoints. So, when I'm not writing, I spend more time than I should online, specifically on facebook. I enjoy taking long walks around my city, Seattle--absolutely love walking the piers and along the waterfront, or around downtown seeing the new storefronts, window displays or just people-watching. Tourists are always a blast to watch. Sometimes I see someone that reminds me of one of my characters, so I will watch them closely to see how they walk, or how they carry themselves.

Always taking things in.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

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