Name Jane O’Brien
Age Let’s just say I’m a senior citizen
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I am married to my high school sweetheart. We have two daughters and one grandchild. I attended college for one year at which time I got married and became a full time wife and mother. Our family is very close although we don’t all live near each other. Thanks to social media and cell phones we are able to keep in touch daily.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am currently working on a new book that should be published this winter.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote my first book when I was ten years old. I have no memory of why I did it, it just seemed like fun at the time. My book consisted of ten chapters, handwritten in pencil on 5×7 pages that were stapled together. I passed it around my fifth grade class for all my girlfriends to read. I received rave reviews, of course, and that cemented my dream to become an author.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was truly surreal when the first book was published. It was as if I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t. So I would say when book two was released, I finally felt like the “real thing.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Both of my daughters are writers and knew that I had had a story in my head for the past ten years. They each encouraged me to get it down in print. They are my inspiration.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write what I feel. I like to be descriptive of the characters and their surroundings, trying to make the reader feel as if he/she is right there without overdoing it. In my opinion, simple is better
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The first book of The White Pine Trilogy is called The Tangled Roots of Bent Pine Lodge. I knew I would be writing about a log cabin in the Michigan woods. One day while walking my own woods, I sat on my favorite tree, a pine with an extremely bent trunk that works very well as a bench. While contemplating my title I knew then and there that the tree would need to be part of the story which is based around genealogy, and the family’s ancestors; therefore, the tangled roots also came into play.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message throughout the series of three is that family is important no matter how complicated and entangled the connections are, and that what happened in the past can affect our present; therefore, what we do today and how we behave can affect our family line in the future, perhaps generations from now.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The settings are quite realistic, and I’ve actually been inside the log lodge in the first book, although the names of the cities and counties have been changed. Quite a bit of the World War II era flashbacks are inspired by conversations I’ve had with my parents over the years.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Most of it is right out of my imagination. I had a very happy childhood with very little conflict. I came from a large family, and I knew all of my cousins. So, I suppose most of it is based on observation of others.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
When I was a young teen I read A Prologue to Love by Taylor Caldwell. It was the first long novel I had read – a big fat book – and the first time I wanted to remember an author’s name. I still remember the story line to this day even though I only read it once. It was about a woman who had everything monetarily she could wish for and yet it was still not enough to make her life feel complete. It was the first time I had thought of that concept.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished The Yellow Crocus, by Laila Ibrahim. It was powerful.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’ve just discovered Patricia Falvey who wrote The Yellow House and The Linen Queen. I love her story telling style.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am currently working on a book about lighthouses in Michigan.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Because of Facebook I have been able to connect with old friends from high school some of whom I haven’t seen in decades. They now live all over the country and when word got out about my books, they began to purchase them, and then they spread the word to their friends. It has been an amazing support system and gift as well.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
At this time of my life, it is a sideline, because I am still working another job. But I would love it to be my only vocation.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I absolutely could not change a thing. I start writing with a general outline in my head; then the characters take over and write the rest themselves. How could I change that?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always like to tell and make up stories. I have been an avid reader my whole life and am basically a creative person. I suppose it was bound to be.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Me fourth book is a novel about a young woman’s discovery of the past her mother has shielded from her. She learns about it a little at a time as she travels the Western shore of Lake Michigan visiting lighthouses.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I prefer to write in total silence, so that is a challenge. I get up at least two hours before my husband on writing days so I am not distracted by the TV or even the sounds he makes as he moves around the kitchen.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
One of my favorite authors is Sandra Dallas who is able to write with such detail using a small amount of words. Her technique is mind-blowing. Her book The Diary of Mattie Spencer changed my life, because I knew by the end of that book, I wanted to write just like her.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, just around my state to make sure some facts are accurate. I only write Michigan stories. There’s a lot to draw on here.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The first two were from pictures I had taken myself. The third was a purchased photo. For the fourth book I plan to have a more professional look.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping all of my facts straight. I use a lot of genealogical data to solve the problems of the characters, and it must jive and be historically accurate.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Read it over and over until you can almost memorize every word, put it aside for a bit and read it again. Each time I go through it, I revise a sentence.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
The phrase “write what you know” is very good advice. Don’t try to write about a location or occupation you know nothing about unless you have fully researched it first. If you fully understand the subject, your readers will believe.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Put your heart and soul into your book. Don’t’ write just to make money. Write because you love it. The money will follow.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, I have been reading voraciously since I first learned to put letters together to form words.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry very easily, you can ask anyone who knows me. I’m very sentimental, so even a good commercial on TV can start the tears to flow. I laugh over silly things.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would like to meet my maternal grandmother who died when I was young. She was an immigrant with lots of secrets from the old world. I have so many questions to ask her. She is one of the reasons why I write genealogical fiction.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Good wife and mother, good friend.
It speaks for itself.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Yes, I have been playing the piano since I was five and had 13 years of lessons. I still play regularly to this day. I have been a quilter since 1991, and a genealogist since 1982. I continue to work on both of those in my “spare time. I am also a flower gardener, specializing in daylilies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch a wide variety of shows. My husband and I enjoy cop and law shows, as well as chick flicks. We also fans of time-travel movies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
We eat all kinds of foods – Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and good old-fashioned American comfort food. My two favorite colors are cobalt blue, and yellow. As far as music goes, I listen to anything from Classical to blues, to jazz, to good old rock and roll.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I always wanted to be a librarian and I did work in that field for several years. Other than that, I just wanted to be a mother, so my life’s dreams have been fulfilled.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My author page on Amazon is: