Seven things I’d like my readers to know about me by Jamie O’Connell, author of Diving for Pearls

I once received a letter from Princess Diana. When I was six years old, a red royal helicopter flew over our school, and my teacher encouraged us to write a letter to the palace. Each student got a signed reply, which I saved. When she died, I was devastated. I had been obsessed, reading about her each week in Hello! Magazine. I even bought the Diana commemorative stamps from my pocket money after her death. I searched high and low for the letter, thankfully finding it at the bottom of a drawer. However, six-year-old me had got it all wrong. The letter was actually from Fergie (The Duchess of York). Needless to say, that was not the same thing.

Diving for Pearls

Diving for Pearls

I have a tattoo that reads ‘Resist Nothing’. It is a quote from Eckhart Tolle to go with the flow of life rather than fight against it. I am a much happier person for it. Sometimes when I find myself flying into a rage when someone cuts me off in traffic, I see my forearm, and I breathe in and say as calmly as possible, ‘Bless you on your journey, you wretch.’

I have wanted to be an author since a young age. I wrote three books while still a teenager (none published but all completed). My favourite was a Roald Dahl-inspired book called The Secret Ingredient. It tells the story of Conor Walnut, a boy whose parents die when a lorry speeds past the couple; its back doors burst open, and a mountain of flying potatoes crushes them. Conor is forced to live with his grandparents, Granddad and Nanny Rotten. The book did not ultimately work, but I still love the ludicrous opening chapter.

I am a complete pushover when it comes to my pets. Every dog I have owned has ended up ruling the house. Their particular brand of ‘soft power’ means every boundary I put in place ‘day one’ – no couch, no upstairs, no bedroom, no food from the table – ends up going out the window.

I accidentally moved in with my partner. After living in cities for seventeen years, I began dating John, who is from Kenmare, a town in rural Co. Kerry. In 2020, before the first lockdown in 2020 was announced, I came to Kerry to visit him for the St. Patrick’s Day long weekend. I had my 10kg weekend case and my laptop. Lockdown took us by surprise, and I lived out of that case for three months. Now, over a year later, the rest of my belongings have followed me to Kerry. I am unlikely to leave.

I cannot sing. I do not say this lightly. Kind friends have prised the microphone out of my hands on karaoke nights and told me to stick to writing fiction. I would be the kind of X-factor contestant that you know they’ve kept on because they make ‘good TV’ despite the fact birds drop from the sky, twitching on the ground, whenever I try to sing even the most basic nursery rhyme.

RELATED: Seven things I’d like my readers to know about me by Kristen Zimmer, author of When Sparks Fly[3]

I make a playlist for every book. Whether I’m writing it or reading it, I throw together a playlist of songs that fit the story and generally listen to it obsessively on repeat until I start a new book. Every scene in every novel has a corresponding song that plays in my head (yes, it’s rather noisy in there!)…