The Jade Widow

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    fbook icon 60Media Interviews


     Bayside Deb OBrien 640

     Bayside Library, November 2016


    Amy Readers Digest18154
    Read my interview for 'Reader's Digest' about the Select Edition version of  'Mr Chen's Emporium' here.



    Grey possum

    Read my interview about 'The Rarest Thing' with Robin Tennant-Wood in the 'District Bulletin'here (at District Bulletin website).

    Please note: This book is no longer in print but is available as an ebook on KOBO.



    Grey possumRead my interview with InkAshlings about 'The Rarest Thing' in which we discuss how being a visual artist creeps into my writing, and I offer some tips for aspiring writers of historical fiction.

    Please note: This book is no longer in print but is available as an ebook on KOBO.



    Grey possumRead my interview with Duffy the Writer about 'The Rarest Thing' in which we discuss the pleasures and perils of writing historical fiction, the inspirations for the book and the development of 'real characters' rather than cardboard cut-outs. Just scroll down for the interview.

                                           Please note: This book is no longer in print but is available as an ebook on KOBO.



    Kirsty People 420To coincide with the release of the April 2016 'Reader's Digest' 'Special Editions' in which a condensed version of 'The Trivia Man' appears, I did an interview with RD's Alison Fraser about the inspiration for the novel. Read the interview here.


    Kirsty People 420
    Freelance writer
    J.F.Gibson asked lots of interesting questions about Kevin Dwyer and 'The Trivia Man', plus my top three tips for writers. Here'sthe interview at Jodi's website.



    Kirsty People 420Such a delight to visit bestselling author, Jenn McLeod of 'Seasons of Shadow and Light' fame at her 'Write Round Oz' blog to talk about living in the country, dogs, food and writing, as well as my new book  'The Trivia Man'. Thanks for inviting me to your place, Jenn.


  • Read the Reviews

  • Writing and Art

    Writing and Art


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    ‘Florals in Terracotta Urn’. Acrylic gouache and impasto on canvas.

    Deborah O’Brien (2001)


    I’ve never been sure whether I’m an artist who happens to write, or a writer who also likes to draw and paint. What I do know is there are certain things that inspire me. First and foremost, I adore old buildings. If you’re read any of my books, you’ll know that buildings, their construction and renovation, play a big part, both on the cover and in the text itself.

    I’ve written stories and drawn pictures for as long as I can remember, probably from the time I could hold a pencil in my hand. My mother, who was an artist herself, kept all the miniature books I made in primary school and the illustrated magazine I concocted for my dad when he went into hospital for an operation. At school I filled the backs of my exercise books with romantic stories and drawings of the heroines (never the heroes, because I couldn’t draw men). And when it came time to hand in my books for marking, I simply ripped out the offending pages.

    When I was about ten years old, I sent a short story to the Sun HeraldJuniors page, accompanied by an illustration. They published it and posted me a money order for the princely sum of two dollars fifty. After that, I submitted articles and drawings on a regular basis and the money orders kept me supplied with Paddle Pops until I was fifteen and too old to be a junior anymore!

    Over the years I’ve continued to write and draw. Sometimes it was a job; at other times it was strictly for fun. Fast forward to ten years ago when my mum, who was always my greatest supporter, asked me: ‘When are you going to get around to writing your novel? I’m not getting any younger, you know.’

    By then I had abandoned the idea of fiction as a career. But that very evening, fortified by a glass of wine, I sat down at my laptop and began typing a dual narrative whose premise had been living in my imagination for a long time: two women, one Gold Rush town, then and now. I called my story Mr Chen’s Emporium.

    When my lovely publisher asked me to do a rough sketch for the cover, I was delighted to be involved, as I was well aware that authors are rarely consulted about cover design, except to approve it. Below is the first rough sketch I produced. When I emailed it to my publisher, she diplomatically suggested that, as the title of the book was Mr Chen's Emporium, the building should really appear on the cover. Hence, the second sketch, which was approved by the powers-that be, and then passed on to the illustrator to finesse.

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     InDesign CoverA4


    Concept sketch MCE 420

    ‘Mr Chen’s Emporium’. Concept sketch – ink and coloured pencils

    Deborah O’Brien


    Mr Chen's Emporium produced two sequels – an historical novel, The Jade Widow,and a modern-day story, A Place of Her Own, about looking for a safe haven when nothing seems safe anymore. I drew pen and ink illustrations for all three books, but apart from concept sketches and hand-drawn lettering for the titles, I left the final covers to the experts.For some reason, my publisher actually preferred my rather wonky lettering to the computer-generated kind and used it on Mr Chen's Emporiumand The Jade Widow. 


    Mr Chens text

    Emporium text


     Emporium Hotel Colour3

    Rough sketch of the Emporium Hotel for 'The Jade Widow'. It was used inside the book.


    Deborah O'Brien

    An earlier, shorter version of this article appeared on the Australian Rural Romance website 2015