Gearoid O'Neary is the pen name of Gerard Neary, a genealogist and writer based in County Sligo in Ireland.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was raised in a village in northern England. My English mother worked as a girl in the local cotton mill, and my Irish father relocated to the area as a youngster when his parents could no longer eke out a living on their small back-of-beyond farm in south County Sligo. I could always understand my mother's background, and all things English, but I could never comprehend the reasons for my dad's family choosing to uproot and settle in a different country, hundreds of miles from their "home" in Sligo. My fascination with this part of my heritage never left me, and when I had to opportunity to reside in Ireland I started to investigate my Irish roots. I found the answers I needed, and it changed my life ... and eventually I started to write about this general subject.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when attending a Grammar School run by ultra-strict and devout Catholic Christian Brothers. I wrote daft short articles which gradually filled spare school exercise books to amuse my school-friends. My teachers were far from amused by my rebellious and blasphemous utterances. My books got confiscated from playground circulation, and I got a whack with a leather strap for my free-thinking artistry. When I started my first job in a technical drawing office, I resurrected my part-time writing career by submitting humorous pieces for inclusion in the in-house company magazine. In the days before personal computers, I was instantly enthralled to see my words in published print. I dabbled in commercial writing ever since until I felt confident enough to create a series of full-blown novels.
“Where’s Merrill?” is a uniquely crafted mystery thriller based upon real life historical events. In fact, it is two inter-related stories in one novel set in different timeframes, namely the past and the present. An Irish genealogist called Jed is commissioned by Tim, an American client, to help identify and find his grandfather; a man who simply disappeared. No death record, no burial. Nothing.