My latest book The Aberrant Lives of Damian Callahan is now available at Amazon (and other outlets to follow).
The 50-word summary goes like this:
Damian Callahan suffers a head injury that leads to a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, and sets out on a quixotic journey to pursue the woman of his dreams—a woman who might be a figment of his imagination, only to discover the truth about his life and his death.
If you click on the cover below you can find out more.
This short novel came out of an event I experienced in the summer before seventh grade. Parents tell us never to get into cars with strangers, like the one who in the 1970s pulled to a stop in front of me while I sat on my bike waiting for a traffic light to change. I didn’t get into the man’s car. Every year, some children are not so lucky.
From time to time I always wondered about the “what if” scenario concerning the situation that had happened to me. Would I have survived? Would I have ever seen my family again?
Damian Callahan, the protagonist in my new novel, is not me. He is, however, with all of his flaws, a creation of the “what if” scenario from my own life.
Ordinarily, I don’t offer much in the way of trigger warnings for my work. With this novel, I’m making an exception. Anyone who may have suffered sexual trauma as an adolescent should read The Aberrant Lives of Damian Callahan with caution.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think about the novel, leave a review, or both. Thanks so much.
A few months after Bobby O’Malley joins the army to pay for his college education, he learns that his father is dying. O’Malley returns home to see his father one last time and bury him. Afterward, he is forced to put off his mourning, so he can continue his new role as an infantry soldier. In 1985, during a decade of excess, that role means mostly falling in with the wrong people and drinking to dull the pain of loss. Along the way, O’Malley makes some friends, falls in love with a married woman, and learns a secret about his father that changes his life.
A review excerpt:
“…well-written, semi-autographical book by Richard J. O’Brien, Rejoice for the Dead leads you to places that a non-military person may not know or understand. The loneliness, depression, and less than ideal training conditions described are an interesting look into a soldier’s life…” Green Gables Book Reviews
About the book:
Rejoice for the Dead was born decades ago under a different title with an integral part missing. I was twenty-three years old, maybe twenty-four, when I wrote the draft that would eventually become lost (read: thrown out by someone). Despite whatever may have passed between the purging party and me, it was, in retrospect, the best thing that happened to that version since I was not removed long enough from the events that shaped it.
What’s a writer to do when a manuscript is lost? I don’t know about anyone else, but I rewrote much of it from memory. Rejoice for the Dead turned out to be semi-autobiographical. About the only similar traits I hold in common with the protagonist Bobby O’Malley are these: I had to join the army to pay for college, my father died about six months after I enlisted, and I actually worked at Joe’s News Shop in Runnemede, NJ. One of the regular customers Bobby meets in the novel is nicknamed The Countess Vampirella. She, like her real-life inspiration, regularly purchases Penthouse Letters and other assorted porn mags, which, in 1980s suburbia, was not something any other woman did while I worked at the shop. Read my book to find out more about The Countess Vampirella and other assorted characters…
As far as other similarities go with my protagonist, they no doubt exist, to be sure, much in the same Bukowski was forever linked to Henry Chinaski and Salinger Holden Caulfield. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Bobby my alter ego, but I am quite fond of him.
Where Bobby’s story is concerned, I struggled for years with whether or not a story that takes place in Camden County New Jersey was even worth telling. As I got older I learned through reading and writing that every place is just as peculiar, odd, and heartbreaking as the next. Every place can be just as rewarding too. A story shines not on its location but in its telling. But now I digress.
As I finished writing Rejoice for the Dead I realized that Bobby’s story had more to it. One book spawned a prequel and that prequel begat another. When I finished, It became apparent that rather than a trilogy I had written one large novel that cashed in for a total of 320,000 words…and it isn’t over. Look for The Last Days of Iggy Scanlon (my Fairview section of Camden novel that covers one fateful summer when Bobby was just out of the fourth grade) and Dark Accidents of Strange Identity (which tells of Bobby and his family’s move to the suburbs…extra karmic points if you tell me where the title of this one came from). Awhile back I signed a contract with Between the Lines Publishing to publish all three.
For me, writing semi-autobiographical fiction proved harder than anything I’ve done so far. It’s also been cathartic.
Rejoice for the Dead will be available for sale at Amazon on November 16 (other online retailers soon to follow). You can preorder today. I would be forever grateful. And my indie publisher would be too.