not a member? click here to sign up
No Ordinary Joe
Joseph O’Connor announced his arrival on the international literary scene with his hugely acclaimed novel, Star Of the Sea. And with the third installment in his historical trilogy on the way, the best is yet to come.
Anne Sexton, 04 Mar 2010
Joseph O’Connor is a rare breed among authors. Having initially made his name as a writer of contemporary fiction, O’Connor turned his hand to comic essays, travel writing, biography and stage plays before finding international critical acclaim and commercial success with his first historical novel, Star of the Sea.
“It was the first time I’d written a novel that I was totally in control of. It was my fifth novel, but really, I kind of think of it as my first one in a way – it was the first book that I’d ever written that I was completely happy with. I felt I could get into the architecture of that story and walk around and touch the roof and the walls of it. It was a gamble doing it, because I didn’t think it would be successful at all. When it was, it was like getting a clap on the back from the universe and thinking, ‘Maybe this writing thing is something I can be good at.’ It settled something in me. Every writer, every storyteller wants an audience and to acquire one was just really lovely. It was like a strange, incredibly happy dream.”
The success of Star Of The Sea, a multi-layered book, which employs a variety of styles, such as newspaper articles, historical documents, letters and a sea captain’s log, as well as first and third person narratives, announced to the world that O’Connor was a serious man of letters. More importantly, as a writer who likes to push his own boundaries and try different genres, this success freed O’Connor to wander wherever a story takes him.
“I felt so liberated by having written that book, I just felt I was going to do whatever I wanted. My publishers have been wonderful about that. No one has asked me to do Star Of The Sea: The Return Voyage, although who knows? They might! There is always a pressure, you know, you always want your next book to be the best book you can write. You always try and go forward and not do the same thing over again.”
The third and final book, Ghostlight, is due to be published in June 2010.