Getting to know Jenny O’Brien – author of Missing in Wales @ScribblerJB

I’ve known Jenny on social media for some time now. I was familiar with her as a romance author, but last year, I was excited to see she was bringing out a thriller. The Stepsister had me reading late into the night; you can get a copy here. Jenny’s latest, Missing in Wales, is just out. I can’t wait to get started on it, but in the meantime it’s great to have her here as a guest!

Please tell us something about yourself, and how you started writing

Firstly, thank you, Clare, for inviting me onto your blog. I was born in Dublin, moved to Wales and now live in Guernsey where I work as a nurse. I’ve always wanted to write but I never really thought I’d get around to it. Then about 15 years ago I came up with the name of a character, a little boy called Dai Monday who was being bullied. It took me a year to take the plunge and write his story (Boy Brainy) and I’ve never stopped writing.

That’s fantastic. I’m always so impressed by the way you manage to combine such a demanding job with being an author! I love the sound of your new book, Missing in Wales. How did you get the initial idea for that story, and for your series characters?

Strange as it seems the core plot came from a dream, or rather a nightmare, way back in January 2018. The characters sort of forged themselves. I love writing about Wales, a place very close to my heart as all my family moved there about 40 years ago. The half Liverpudlian, half Italian detective, Gabriella Darin, is pure imagination. But I sort of think of her as my alter-ego. She says the things that, during the course of a day, I don’t have the nerve to.

Ah – I often have my characters do that too! Can you share any teasers about future books?

Well, there are two more planned in the Wales series so far. Stabbed in Wales will be available for pre-order shortly. I love the commonly used trope of a character waking up beside a dead body. It’s been used to great effect in books and movies over the years, but I set myself a challenge to do it differently. My main character in Stabbed in Wales, Christine de Bertrand, hooks up with a man only to wake up beside the dead body of a woman.

In the follow up, no name as yet, there’s an old lady and a piano…

Intriguing! I’m looking forward to finding out more when the books are published!

Could you tell us about your writing process? How do you move from your initial idea through to a draft that’s ready to publish?

I’d like to think myself as a plotter. You know, those writers that set out all the key steps and know what the whole story is about before they set pen to paper. I’m not like that! I know the beginning and the end – I plot in the car on the way to work. The middle is a complete surprise but, the way I look at it, I get great pleasure from writing the books I want to read.

Draft One flows from the pen.

Draft Two jerks along.

Draft Three is a structural edit, looking at plot holes etc.

Draft Four is just before I send it off for a professional edit.

Draft Five is a mopping up edit: adding, deleting, punctuation etc.

Draft Six is a final read through on my Kindle.

Draft Seven – I listen to it, the ear picking up what the eye misses.

Draft Eight goes out to Beta readers for their comments.

Draft Nine (final draft) is what the public see…

Thanks, Jenny – that’s really interesting. Do you have a favourite way to get into the right frame of mind for writing if you’re not already in the mood?

Ha, if I’m honest I’m never in the mood but, it’s just something that has to be done. I’m quite pig headed. If I set out to do something, I invariably get it done and I want to write…

I guess that kind of determination must be essential when you’re juggling a lot of roles!

Your books have a very strong sense of place – I felt I was right there with the heroine in The Stepsister. How do you go about researching location and conveying it on the page?

Thank you for saying that, Clare. I do try and write about places that I’ve been to like Guernsey, Wales and, in The Stepsister, Holland. I enjoy the research part and am fastidious in checking travel details and collecting images of where I’m writing about. I think that putting the time and effort into the nuts and bolts that underpin a plot is all part of the enjoyment of writing. 

I really enjoy that side of writing too! Do you have any advice for beginner writers?

Nothing new I’m afraid.

Don’t be scared of the blank page. It doesn’t bite and paper is recyclable after all.

Read, read and read some more. All genres.

Maybe not new, but both excellent suggestions nonetheless! You write romantic fiction as well as thrillers. I wondered which genre you prefer to work in, and what direction you see yourself following in the future?

Ah, I don’t know is the answer. I started off writing for kids with Boy Brainy and, as I enjoy reading romances, it felt like a natural thing to do next. I’m new to writing thrillers but not to reading them. Up until the kids were born crime fiction was my genre of choice. After they were born, I found I couldn’t read it so I switched to romance, until recently. Completely bizarre I know. I have an idea for a book, which is women’s fiction – a book I want to write but it’s not a romance as such. On completion of the Gabriella Darin series I may give it a look.

Ooh! All very interesting – thanks, Jenny. And thanks so much for visiting today – it’s great to find out more about you and your work.

You can view and buy all Jenny’s books via her Amazon page.

You can also follow Jenny on social media or via her website:

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2 thoughts on “Getting to know Jenny O’Brien – author of Missing in Wales @ScribblerJB

  1. Interesting interview, Clare. I agree with you, her books has a very strong sense of place.
    It amazed me how she began writing a genre so different from thriller.
    Let’s see what do she have for us in store in October. I like Gabriella Darin a lot. Thanks for the interview.

    Liked by 1 person

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