An Interview With Writer Daniel O’Neil


Daniel O’Neil is the author of the novel Bodies on the Potomac; here is a link to the Amazon page:
Q:  What is Bodies in the Potomac about?
A: BOTP tells a story of corruption and greed both inside the political world and out. A Russian oligarch has designs on the USA’s largest automobile company because he wants control, both of the company and ultimately the entire country. Counterterrorism agent Taylor Clark is drawn in when a friend calls asking for help to reclaim his automobile dealership that is being taken from him because, he’s failed to support the effort to re-elect the sitting president. There’s action, intrigue, and vivid characters spread from Washington DC to San Francisco. There’s also danger, there’s passion, there’s love and a little sex and it’s all bundled into a fast paced fun read.
Q:  What historical events inspired you to write your book?
A: Real life headlines and the stories behind those headlines create material for stories such as BOTP every day. Colorful characters abound out there, laws are broken, people fall in love, others kill one another. But no particular event inspired BOTP, rather a combination of them worked in concert. Every time I sit down to write it amazes me the things that come to mind to embellish the base plot. And the people! These imaginary friends are so much fun to create. I’d love to meet some of them in person!
Q:  What makes Karl Blumenthal’s Bluffton a character worth reading about?
A: Karl is only one of many characters in this story that the reader will invest in. I won’t reveal how I hope readers react to Karl, but I will say that most people will relate and likely admire the ways he deals with adversity.
Q:  Who are some of your writing influences?
A: There are so many that it’s difficult to isolate ones that have been more influential than others. But I became hooked on fiction when I read Herman Wouk’s WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE back in the 70s. Then Robert Ludlum arrived on the scene. Soon after Tom Clancy exploded to the top of the best seller list, and so many more followed over the years. I don’t pattern myself after any one writer, but as I read novels I pay careful attention to the writing, it’s pace and structure.  It never ceases to amaze me how the insertion of one word or one sentence can make such a difference. Also, there is a former literary agent who has encourage me over the years to keep writing, and I’ve listened to her.

Q:  What sort of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?
A: I’m in the financial services world that’s filled with colorful figures and potential storylines. I don’t consciously view it that way, but it’s there and nearly impossible to miss, and then nearly impossible to ignore. But life is pretty much that way, not just the business world around me.
Q:  What are the elements of a good political thriller?
A: WOW. Great question. Action, of course. Some mystery, naturally. A bit of fantasyland for sure, but attainable. Complications, too. And love. Maybe some sex. And conflict, both internal and external. But mostly I think it’s in the characters. The good guys and the bad guys. The bad guys can’t just be bad, they should be complex enough that the reader doesn’t totally hate them. At some level, in fact, I’d like the reader to relate to the bad guys. It’s sorta like making chili; you throw all the ingredients into the pot and hope for the best. Of course some chefs are better than others.
Q:  Why do you think the Kennedy family fascinates people so much?
A: Money, sex, power, crime.
Q:  What is your process for coming up with a plot?
A: Observation mostly. Wondering what would happen “if”. And that’s why I don’r work with an outline. I know where I want to end, I know the general focus of the story and who my main characters are. But other than that, it surprises me every day what happens. Broad story line ideas are fairly abundant, it’s getting the characters to make it happen that’s the key. Somedays that’s easier than others.
Q:  What have you done to promote your book?
A: The usual social media plus a PR firm reaching out to traditional and nontraditional media. Radio interviews, too, plus a few blog interview like this one, Emails of course. Word of mouth is what any author is trying to create. A buzz.
Q:  What trends in literature annoy you?
A: It’s not annoyance, but from a selfish point of view I’d like to see publishing houses take more chances on new writers. I understand why they shy away from it, but I’m hopeful that will change because it’s important that new voices come on the scene. What I write are airplane books, not literary fiction. My work is commercial fiction with a broad potential audience, female and male, so if more authors like me get broader exposure it provides the reader more choices.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)


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