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Billy O’Callaghan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Dead House (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
My Coney Island Baby (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Life Sentences (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Paper Man (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

A Death in the Family (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Tales of Old Douglas (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
In Exile (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
In Too Deep (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Boatman and Other Stories (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Billy O’Callaghan
Billy O’Callaghan was born in 1974 in Cork, Ireland.

Billy has received two Arts Council of Ireland’s Bursary Award for Literature and a Bard Gais Energy Irish Book Award for the short story. “The Boatman” was a finalist for the Costa Short Story Award in 2016. “My Coney Island Baby” was shortlisted for the 2020 Encore Award.

Billy’s short stories have appeared in magazines and journals around the world, which include: the Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review, Absinthe: New European Writing, Confrontation, Ploughshares, Agni, the Chattahoochee Review, the Fiddlehead, the Los Angeles Review, the Kyoto Journal, the London Magazine, Narrative, Salamander, and the Saturday Evening Post.

When it comes to sitting down and writing something, he tends to think in terms of themes. Stories grow out of their own accord, emerging organically out of the things which concern him, the things that he tend to think deeply about. Over the past few years quite a bit of his own life has started infiltrating the work he does. In a lot of cases it is an indirect case, and he is able to fictionalize it when that happens, however Billy finds that it gives his writing this added depth, possibly a greater authenticity.

Travel never fails to inspire him, either. He is hungry and wide-eyed for the details of the world. Reading also lights his fire, especially the touchstone writers, like Steinbeck and Hemingway. Poetry’s also an endless fascination.

He works incredibly slowly, down at a sentence level, and he finds a constant inspiration in the rhythms and flow of the language. It typically takes a long time for the story he’s trying to tell to fully reveal itself to him, however he’s not learned patience.

“The Dead House” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2017. Maggie Turner (a young successful artist) tries to rebuild her life after a violent relationship, and moves from London to Allihies and buys this abandoned ancient cottage. Keen to just concentrate on her art, she’s captivated by the wild beauty of her surroundings.

After a bit of renovating, she hosts this house warming weekend for her friends. One drunken game with a Ouija board shortly descends into something that is much more sinister, while Maggie apparently channels this spirit that refers to himself just as ‘The Master’. The others are visibly shaken, however the day after the entire thing is just dismissed as being the combination of booze and suggestion.

Maggie immerses herself into her work, however it devolves, each day, until it renders her style no longer recognizable. She hears voices, glimpses some things, finds herself being drawn to select areas: the reefs at the west end of the beach right behind her home, a stone circle in the nearby hills.

“My Coney Island Baby” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2019. Caitlin and Michael, on a bitterly cold afternoon in winter, escape from their unhappy marriages in order to keep their illicit rendezvous. For the past quarter of a century now, Coney Island’s been their haven, once a month.

These hidden and precious hours are their only nourishment. However now, amid the howling of an angry blizzard, the out-of-season and shut down resort feels like it’s the edge of the world. And their lives are on the brink, all of a sudden, with news about serious illness on one side, and a move to the Midwest on the other. So, after a lifetime that’s been spent in secret, some select long-avoided facts have to be faced, decisions made, consequences examined, and possibly, chances finally will be taken.

An intense and quiet drama of late-flowering intimacy, this novel condenses, within just a single day, the landscapes, histories, tragedies, and moments of wonder which constitute the lives of a couple of people who, even though born worlds apart, have been drawn together.

Billy, who is a masterful prose stylist, has created such a devastatingly powerful novel about two unforgettable characters and their choices that they’ve made. Billy delivers a novel filled with sorrow, however also radiant with beauty, breathless desire, and longing.

“Life Sentences” is the third stand alone novel and was released in 2021. A sweeping story of an Irish family’s fight to survive makes for this unforgettable story of redemption, love, abandonment, and hunger.

Nancy Martin (at only 16) leaves the tiny island of Cape Clear for the mainland, and is the sole member of her entire family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding some work in this grand house right on the edge of Cork City, she’s irrepressibly drawn to Michael Egan (the charismatic gardener), which sparks a love affair and a pretty devastating series of events which continues unfolding for over three generations.

Billy’s novel, which spans over a century, weaves together the journey of one Irish family that is determined against all of the odds to be free. In 1920, Jer (Nancy’s son) has lived through battles of his own as a soldier in the Great War. Now he’s drunk and in a jail cell, he struggles to piece together where he even comes from, and who it is that he wants to be. During the early 1980s, Nellie (Jer’s youngest kid) is coming to the end of her life in this council house mere steps away from her childhood home; remembering that night when she and her family stole back something which was rightfully theirs in the first place. She imagines too what will lie ahead for the people that survive her.

This moving portrait of life in Ireland is set in the same village that Billy’s family has lived for generations now, and is partly based on the stories that his grandparents and parents told. His writing’s been imbued with lived experience and some hard-earned truths, which creates a novel so rich in empathy and life that it’s impossible to just let go of his characters. A lyrical and ambitious family saga, this novel confirms Billy as being one of the finest of living Irish authors.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Billy O’Callaghan

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