From a non cultural background, Conor wrote, secretively, in his teens.
“When I published my first book of poetry at 24, it came as a shock to my brothers.”
After dropping out of College Conor did a variety of jobs; he worked in bars, moved to London, was a cloakroom attendant, and signed on the dole a lot.
“I went back to college to make myself employable. And I’ve been working in academic life ever since. I’ve taught in America on and off for years, including Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Moving there with my family, I thought at first we would stay for good. But after two years, we decided to move home.”
Since college, he has published three more books of poems; and a football memoir with Bloomsbury.
“I’ve been working on the novel for almost five years. It’s been through various different incarnations.”
Who is Conor O’Callaghan
Date of birth: 20th September, 1968 in Newry, County Down, and grew up in Dundalk.
Education: Christian Brother, Dundalk. University College Dublin; dropped out. In Mid-twenties, Trinity College Dublin, MA in Creative Writing.
Home: Divides his time between Sheffield and Dublin.
Family: Son Tommy 21, daughter Eve 20.
The Day Job: Teacher of Creative writing in universities.
Interests: “I play a lot of Crown Green Bowls, with Leagues – to a high level. I play a bit of golf. And I cycle.”
Favourite Writers: John Banville. “He’s a genius.” Joyce; Nabokov; Beckett.
Second Novel: “I’ll definitely writer another novel; I think I’ll write a love story.”
Top Tip: “Have a routine and stick to it. Don’t go beyond it. For me it’s 300- 500 words a day.”
The Debut: Nothing on Earth. Doubleday Ireland: €16.99 Kindle: €12.38.
When a girl knocks on an elderly man’s door, terrified; saying her family have disappeared, his life becomes complicated. As he relates the story told to him by the girl, who lived with her family in the show home of an abandoned housing estate, we’re not sure if she’s telling the truth.
And what of the man, whose voice gradually emerges as the novel progresses. Just what was his role in all this?
“I was trying to write a really creepy book.”
The Verdict: Mystical, lyrical, intriguing and disturbing.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 28th May
© Sue Leonard 2016