Literary Birthday – 26 May – Carol O’Connell

Happy Birthday, Carol O’Connell, born 26 May 1947.


  1. I’ve seen all those author interviews where the author will say to the interviewer, ‘Oh, my characters have lives of their own, I just let them…’ If I had characters like that, I’d fire them immediately. I need people to do the work that I need done to get this book from cover to cover.
  2. After my first book was published [Mallory’s Oracle], I received an envelope full of religious material from a fan who wanted to save my soul. That’s when I knew I was on to something.
  3. Whenever I go out on tour, someone will ask if Mallory is autobiographical. It always startles me. I like to think that I show no markers for a sociopath. Mallory is purely a work of imagination. This answer disappoints everyone.
  4. I don’t talk about novels in progress because I once knew a writer who talked his work to death, sucked all the energy out of it—and never wrote down more than ten words.
  5. I credit independent books stores with launching my career. Years ago, these kind people took the time to read my first book, and they hand sold it to their customers. I would not be here if they had not been there from the beginning.
  6. When strangers on a train or a plane ask what I do for a living, I say, ‘I kill people.’ This response makes for a short conversation. No eye contact and no sudden movement from my seat-mate. Only peace and quiet. Rare is the fellow passenger who asks why I do it.
  7. I write the kind of novels I want to read. And why the theme of solving murders? Violent death is larger than life and it’s the great equaliser. By law, every victim is entitled to a paladin and a chase, else life would be cheapened.  And the real reason I do this? My brain is simply bent this way. There is nothing else I would rather do.
  8. I think things kind of simmer in the back of your mind, and then at some point they’re going to kind of come together. I’m going to be the last person to explain the creative process to anyone, but I think the only people who really examine it are people with writer’s block, and I never seem to have that.
  9. You’re learning to write a book every time you sit down to do it. I know that sounds a little strange, but in every book you’re presented with new possibilities, new environment, different people, new story lines. You’re learning how to do it all over again.
  10. That’s the secret of Mallory, she doesn’t change at all… But in each book you see a different facet of Mallory, and it gives people the illusion that she’s growing. I’ve kept this trick going for quite a while, because people always want the character to develop and I fully understand that. She is what she is.
  11. I know so much about every character I put in the book. Even the minor ones. And you only see about five percent of it in the book.

Carol O’Connell is an American author of crime fiction. She has written 11 novels featuring the enigmatic, sociopathic detective, Kathy Mallory. The first book in the series was published as Mallory’s Oracle in 1995.

by Amanda Patterson

Are you interested in more authors’ birthdays? Please click here: Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 26th May 2014