Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Gearoid O’Neary debuted as an author with his book “Where’s Merrill”. It’s a genealogical mystery thriller. The novel is based on a real life events. Let’s learn something more about the book and the author.
– What is your book Where’s Merrill about?
– This novel is based closely upon a real-life ancestry research case, and written in the style of a mystery thriller. In essence there are two stories in one novel; one set in the present and the other in past times. The genealogist in the present gradually unravels many secrets about the family of an ancestor called Merrill. This man disappeared from the planet in his middle age over 75 years ago. No death record. No burial. Nothing.
– Why did you decide to write the story?
– I am a professional genealogist, and I discovered the mysterious facts about Merrill and his ancestors. The astounding true story just had to be shared.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Trying to write a logical story which does not follow traditional chronology, at the same time as dropping in many clues without giving the end-game away. Then, upon completion, I had to disguise all the real-life character names in order to protect the descendants’ privacy.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– As advised, Merrill was a 100% real person. He was a very complex and secretive man, so researching his life took many unexpected turns. At one time, Merrill was a very wealthy and successful businessman. How could he just “disappear” from his loved ones and work associates?
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– The research took about one year. The writing of the novel took a further 3 months, and then another 3 months was needed for the editing and “privacy” amendments. I initially self-published on Amazon and Smashwords, and these processes only took a week or two to perfect.
– Who are you?
– I am a qualified Civil Engineer and former leader of a large geotechnical business, cast aside by the worldwide economic recession 5 years ago, aged 50, to fend for myself. I reinvented myself as a genealogist and writer. I was born in England but my ancestors were Irish. I have returned to my Irish roots and I now live in the wild west of Ireland, miles away from the trappings of modern urban civilization.
– What are your writing habits?
– I write my best stuff when I get up just before dawn, and scribble away watching the sun come up. I often write for four hours non-stop, with just coffee and tobacco for company.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– As a virgin novel author, I am amazed by the sales of my debut book. I never expected a readership in the 1000’s. On some days, I have appeared on Amazon’s best-seller listings alongside the likes of Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer when 40 or 50 copies of Where’s Merrill were bought within a few hours, after a promotion. This is quite a thrill. Then my work disappears from the best-sellers, but Stephen & Jeffrey remain there permanently! A follow-up 2nd novel is in progress, but I only write for 3 months of each year.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I use social media, particularly Twitter, just to publicize my novel to as many account-holders as possible. Re-tweets in the literary field can lead to exposure to 1000’s of potential readers. Whether anyone ever reads their Tweets is a different question! I find that getting book reviews published in popular newsletters or on blog sites is the best way of gaining new readers.
– How do you find the passion of genealogy? I was always very interested in how tough it is to find the roots of a family, a few centuries back.
– I like your description of my occupation, i.e. the “Passion” of genealogy. It does become a passion. It’s like a drug or religion, trying to find out more about deceased members of nondescript families, regardless of whether you are paid for the research or not. The main thing is to help out the client. When you fully understand your ancestry and background, then you understand yourself and some of the reasons for your existence. It is tough work trying to break down brick walls, but one breakthrough in a hundred makes it all worthwhile.
– What is the story of your name Gearoid and what it means?
– My true baptismal name is Gerard Neary. When I wanted to publish my novel I was surprised to learn that a different Gerard Neary was already an established screenwriter. Like actors, each media artiste needs a unique name, so I created my pen name of Gearoid O’Neary. Gearoid is the old Gaelic Irish language version of the forename Gerard.
– Your opinion or Ireland/England never ending disputes?
It would take 50,000 words to answer this question properly. Like anywhere else in the world, past political decisions caused unrest for decades. The modern-day Republic of Ireland (not Northern Ireland) is different. Irish citizens are extremely forgiving and forward-thinking. Whilst Scotland is considering independence from England, there are groups in Ireland who support the idea of Ireland having closer political ties to Britain (rather than the EU), for financial reasons. When Ireland went bankrupt in 2008, English financiers were the first to offer assistance. Times change, and memories of historical conflicts fade.
Take a look at his book