Writing Superheroes: Pam O’Shea

What do fluffy white cats, Aston Martins and being in control have to do with this superhero? Read on and find out more…

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If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

This will age me, but here goes! The origin of my love of historical fiction goes back to a TV drama on the BBC – The First Churchills. I was too young to understand the story but it was the costumes that caught my attention and I spent a lot of my childhood dressing up as a result. Of course, there were other great historical dramas such as The Pallisers, Upstairs Downstairs, etc., all of which fascinated me as I grew up.

The second most important scene would be my father handing me the complete works of Jane Austen when I was about eleven years old (I still have it and treasure it). After that I was totally hooked and spent subsequent years devouring the likes of Gaskell, Hardy, Thackery and Edgeworth. And then through a friend, I discovered Georgette Heyer (probably my favourite author after Austen). In recent years I would say that many authors have continued to feed my love of the genre, in particular, Jude Morgan, whose novels are quite fabulous.

My early efforts were angst-ridden teenage poetry that are buried in a little book and will NEVER see the light of day. If they ever fall into the wrong hands, I will be on the next flight out of here … one way.

 

All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.DSC_0144 (2)

I don’t think my secret identify is mild-mannered at all. In fact, she is an evil bond girl with a love of fast cars!

 

Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

Well, that would have to be my two writing companions, Tara and Toby (dog and cat, respectively). They are quite happy to hang around while I grapple with plot and characters. Everyone else in the house runs for the hills when things are going badly. The animals’ ability to know when my stress levels are high never ceases to amaze me.

 

Where do you get your superpowers from?

I am wise enough not to question that, in case they disappear!

 

Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

I have a little writing corner tucked away as far as possible from the noise of the house. I have some favourite art on the wall and all of my reference books to hand. Most importantly, the ipod dock is right beside me – I rarely write without music in the background.

 

What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

Relaxation is the key for me – so lots of music, reading my fav authors, or Irish weather permitting, I’ll garden. I believe I use my powers for good. Mind you, I have killed off a fair few characters in my stories but I think that’s allowed. [Evil laugh while stroking neighbour’s fluffy white cat …]

 

Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

Trust me, the world is not ready!!

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Liking to be in control too much – the temptation to put my characters through hell, often has be curtailed! I have a dread of boring characters – nothing puts me off a book quicker than a mousey heroine or a ‘nice’ hero. My characters have lovely flaws which hopefully makes them more real.

My biggest challenge is knowing when to stop researching and start writing. I love research but I can’t write unless I can get inside the heads of all of my characters and ‘see’ the places I am writing about. Luckily, it usually provides lots of material for sub-plot and minor characters, so it’s never really time wasted.

 

What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Time – I never have enough time to write as I am a working mum, and often when I do find it, the blank page just stares up at me accusingly. As I self-published I didn’t have anyone on my back demanding I meet deadlines, so thankfully, I was able to write at my own pace.

 

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

You have to believe in yourself. I am always battling with my confidence. Publishing my first novel has been a huge boost. Confidence is high at the moment.

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

Opening the first print proof was a five-star moment and one I won’t forget in a hurry. Next was going onto Amazon and seeing my book page and my name on it! (I’m still pinching myself). Lastly, but probably most importantly, was receiving an email from a stranger who had read the book and loved it – that blew me away!

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

Well, I certainly would not send out a typescript to agents unedited. That was a major novice mistake. But in a strange way I am glad I did. Self-publishing was always ‘Plan B’, but in fact, I am very thankful that I was forced into it. It is an incredibly powerful tool and with my love of control, I was in my element choosing layout design, book cover and making the book trailer – glorious fun! I don’t know if my future efforts will attract an agent or publisher but now I know that I can get my work out there. It doesn’t have to sit all lonely, in the dark, on my laptop … I just want to share my stories and give my readers a great experience.

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

Best advice was from a fellow author, Ciara Geraghty, who told me to go find a great editor. I took that advice and my success is down to that – pure and simple.

 

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.CS Cover for fb

The Bowes Inheritance is my first published novel and is available as an ebook or paperback on Amazon. It’s set in the 1880s and the story commences in my hometown of Dublin. Two sisters, from an impoverished Irish Ascendancy family, are living quietly when the eldest, Louisa, discovers she has inherited a large estate from an uncle she didn’t even know existed. The sisters move to Bowes Farm, which is situated in the north-west of England, only to find their uncle was suspected of being a Fenian leader. His actions leave Louisa battling to gain acceptance in polite society, especially with Nicholas Maxwell – their handsome neighbour and local magistrate – whose father was cheated of the farm during a card game fifteen years before. The house holds many mysteries and while Louisa tries to solve these, she slowly realises that her feelings for her neighbour are slowly changing.

I like to think of the story as an adventure as much as a romance, and there is a strong political strand to it. In the background there is the Irish Land War and the Fenian bombing campaign that was raging at the time. When this comes close to home, Louisa finds herself a suspect and has to fight to clear her name. There are many layers to the story with police raids, a secret affair, gun-smuggling and an abduction just to keep you awake! If you are interested in Irish history this book could be for you.

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

I’m in the midst of book promotion at the moment, but the next book is started and I’m happily researching away. In fact, I have just come up with a nice little twist to the story but I can’t tell you any more … [Sound of Aston Martin revving up and taking off at speed]

 

 

 You can find Pam at:

Website~Twitter @@pamlecky  

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