Publication Order of Standalone Novels
|Anthem||(1987)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Only Son||(1997)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Next to Die||(2001)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Make Them Cry||(2002)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Watch Them Die||(2003)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Left for Dead||(2004)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Last Victim||(2005)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Killing Spree||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|One Last Scream||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Final Breath||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Vicious||(2010)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Disturbed||(2011)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Terrified||(2012)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Unspeakable||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Tell Me You're Sorry||(2014)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|No One Needs to Know||(2015)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
The story of Kevin O’Brien’s writing career is almost as whimsical as a character you could expect to find in a great book. Before his writing career took off, Kevin O’Brien toiled as a railroad inspector by day (or “all the live long day,” according to his official website), and worked on his stories by night.
O’Brien moved to Seattle in 1980, and his railroad job saw him moving all across the Pacific Northwest, where he would write his debut novel in various hotels. The culmination of this hotel-hopping night-writing was Actors, which was released in 1987 and translated into three different languages. Ten years later, O’Brien unveiled his sophomore effort, Only Son, which saw commercial success, and was even optioned for film rights due to an interest from none other than Tom Hanks.
But the accolades didn’t stop there, however, as Only Son ended up being selected by Reader’s Digest for their Select Editions, in the company of critically acclaimed books such as John Grisham’s The Partner. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Grisham’s book, O’Brien, too, tried his hand at writing a thriller, publishing The Next to Die in 2001, which became a USA Today bestseller. But O’Brien didn’t wait for the iron to cool before striking again, and he went on to publish three more USA Today bestselling thrillers.
It seems that one thing that all good authors have in common is an adherence to a piece of advice from an author they admire. O’Brien was no exception to this. The delay between efforts was perhaps a matter of self-preservation, as O’Brien had—perhaps wisely—taken the advice of British fantasy novelist Terry Brooks, who had once told him: “Don’t quit your railroad job until you’ve made enough money on your writing to support yourself for two years.”
The best was yet to come, and O’Brien’s next work would earn a slew of praises from various institutions, including the most well-known bestseller list in the world. The Last Victim, released in 2005, hit the New York Times bestseller list, winning the Spotted Owl Award for Best Pacific Northwest Mystery. Since then, O’Brien hasn’t looked back, refusing to rest on his laurels. His novels have been translated into at least 14 different languages.
Aspiring and seasoned writers (or anyone else who may be interested in O’Brien’s other contributions) will be very pleased to know that O’Brien has a passion for educating those who aren’t as fortunate to get a sufficient education. O’Brien works for an organization called Seattle7Writers, a wonderful non-profit that O’Brien serves as a board member. The collective is comprised of award-winning and bestselling authors, all of whom are especially dedicated to the support of writing, literacy, and education.
As an eight-year-old child, O’Brien had the disconcerting experience of witnessing a police car and another mysterious car roll into his family’s driveway. The young O’Brien watched on coyly as the police, and perhaps someone from the FBI, wanted to get in touch with the previous owner, Milton Klein, who was affiliated with Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago, Illinois. If this doesn’t ring any bells, then perhaps the next part will. As it happened, Klein’s Sporting Goods was the exact store that “A. Hidell” had used to send away for a 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 carbine. A. Hidell would later be identified as Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who shot John F. Kennedy.
Also while growing up, O’Brien was a massive fan of Alfred Hitchcock, and he would make sure that he never missed an airing of North by Northwest or Psycho. This was, of course, the days before VCRs, much less DVRs, so these films were always appointment viewing for O’Brien during his adolescence.O’Brien attended and graduated New Trier East High School in Winnetka, Illinois, which is noted for a plethora of famous alumni, including: Charlton Heston, Senator Charles Percy, Rock Hudson, Ann Margret, Scott Turrow, Virginia Madson, Ralph Bellamy, Liz Phair, Bruce Dern, and more.
As fate would have it, O’Brien’s first creative writing teacher was an author by the name of Anne Powers, who taught at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Robert Bloch was a colleague of hers, and he actually wrote Psycho, which was based on the infamous case of Ed Gein, which also took place in Wisconsin. O’Brien would later reflect on his experience with Anne Powers, saying of his experience: “Ms. Powers was very encouraging, and gave me a lot of wonderful feedback about my horror stories. She was a great teacher.”
As O’Brien progressed through college, he wrote his first screenplay, and he eventually sought representation from an agent based in New York; however, the story didn’t get sold. O’Brien didn’t give up, though, and he set himself the goal of being published by the age of 30. In 1980, O’Brien had moved to Seattle, selling his first book, Actors, on his 30th birthday. Indeed, O’Brien has always seemed to have a knack for experiencing well-timed serendipity—he was offered a buyout from his railroad job in the same year that he sold Only Son to Reader’s Digest, after five years of inspecting hazardous material from rail cars, in addition to emergency response work.
As well as writing an array of well-received solo novels, O’Brien has also tried his hand at participating in a collaborative book as part of the “Novel Live” marathon organized by Seattle7Writers. The book, entitled Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices, raised over $20,000 for literacy in the Pacific Northwest, and was written with the help of Carol Cassella, Deb Caletti, Elizabeth George, Erica Bauermeister, Erik Larson, James Ford, Jennie Shortridge, Julia Quinn, Kathleen Alcalá, Maria Dahvana Headley, Mary Guterson, Susan Wiggs, Teri Hein, and William Dietrich. Susan Wiggssaid of the novel: “Hotel Angeline is a unique writing project, and it’s a testament to what a group of focused, talented, and determined writers can produce when inspired to do something good for the world.”
As for O’Brien’s solo work, a review of Disturbed, a novel written in 2011, garnered a review from Mandy Blair Crider, saying: “Tall about an edge on your seat kind of thriller! I had my breath held the whole time!!! It seemed like with every page I turned there was something new popping up to twist the reader’s mind.”
Another reader, Heather, said of the book: “I sure hope I get through all of this man’s books soon so I can get something done. They are riveting – everything I look for in a thriller. Average people in average situations make you look at your neighbors differently. Twists, turns and suspense at every corner.”Book Series In Order » Authors » Kevin O’Brien