Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Mark O’Neill and I am 43 years old. Although I always lie to myself and tell myself I am only 30. Some days it works, mostly not.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, but I am now in Würzburg, Germany.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have been in Germany since 2001, with my wife Monika and our dog Schlumpf. I am about to take my German citizenship exams, due to the Brexit trainwreck. As well as a novelist, I am also a freelance writer for hire and work for various international clients.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
A box-set will be out at the end of this month with the first four volumes. It will work out cheaper than if you bought them individually.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing since I knew how to pick up a pen and start writing. I have always lived inside my imagination. I was that kind of child. Shy, withdrawn, and day-dreaming. What inspired me to start writing my current fiction series, Department 89, was author Mark Dawson and his writing groups.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
20 years ago, when I first started doing this as a career.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula, and a low bank balance. Plus my desire to see if I could get any groupies in my old age. Also, I always get such a kick seeing my name in print, whether on the front of a book or as a byline on an article.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I am good with titles. That I think is a benefit of my 20 years of freelance writing. You learn how to create titles that people are going to positively respond to. The “Department 89” fictional spy department was originally Department 99 until somebody pointed out another author was doing vampire fiction under a Department 99. I went back and forth with maybe 20-30 other possibilities before losing my patience and deciding on Department 89.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I am a pantser. So I just start writing and I have absolutely no idea where I am going with it. I loathe the idea of planning a book. That just takes the fun out of the writing process.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of it. I have no connections to the German Intelligence community 🙂
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No. I use the Internet and Google Earth. I also know someone with connections to the German police unit, GSG9, and I often ask for some questions to be answered. People are lovely that way.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A very talented Fiverr.com designer called Christina Paraskevopoulou. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a cover designer.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That women are not sexual accessories for men (like in James Bond). That women can lead departments, pull their weight, kick ass, and should be paid the same as men.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite writer in this genre is Daniel Silva. I am in awe of his writing talent. As for new authors, I am always reading and always coming up with new books I like to read.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My wife, Monika. She supports me in everything I do. She is a saint.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’ve been doing freelance writing as a career for almost 20 years. So yes, it is my career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would make it last longer. Due to extended illness, I had to rush at the last minute to meet the publishing deadline. So I feel the book is not the best I could have done.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That it is very easy to write yourself into a corner and have great difficulties tying up all the loose ends of the story to everyone’s satisfaction.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Krysten Ritter, from “Jessica Jones”.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Look upon rejection as a badge of honour, not as failure. Keep writing and don’t listen to criticism from friends and family.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you sign up for my mailing list at markoneill.org, then you will get three of my books for free. No strings attached.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
A 3 volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt is absolutely fascinating.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
LOL, no. I am 43 years old. I probably picked my first book up when I was 3 or 4! A lifetime ago!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh – Donald Trump. Also comedians like Stephen Colbert, Dana Carvey, and Bill Maher. Cry? Sad situations obviously.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Winston Churchill. Because without him, Britain would have lost the war. He was also a great author and orator, and a great believer in not giving a damn about what others thought of him. I admire that.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, collecting books, collecting stamps, designing websites, spending time with the wife and dog, sleeping.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV but I do have a Netflix membership for when the urge hits me. I recently binge-watched Jessica Jones which I am addicted to. I also watched “Bosch” on Amazon Prime.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food – pizza. Color – green. Music – U2
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Become a master criminal.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Knowing my OCD nature, probably getting the current book finished and writing a farewell blog post. Plus eating every conceivable unhealthy food.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Here lies Mark O’Neill and he is thoroughly pissed off. He told you it wasn’t a headache.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Who Is Mark O’Neill? (The Short & Blunt Version)
Mark is a self-described “bleeding heart liberal” (which he makes no apologies for). He detests hypocrisy, liars, inequality, cruelty, prejudice, racism, and he believes the richest people in society have a moral obligation to provide for the poorest of society. This can be in the form of paying more taxes to fund government aid programs, volunteering for charities that help the disadvantaged, or simply by being a decent humane human being that doesn’t hesitate to help someone who is clearly in need of help.
Mark loves food (especially pizza), loves books (reading and collecting them, although he has radically scaled back his collection recently, due to space problems in his office) and he is a big believer in getting enough sleep. He and his dog have their regular afternoon nap every day.