Who is Tim O’Mara?
Tim O’Mara has been teaching math and special education in the New York City public schools since 1987. He has written several short stories and is currently writing his second novel, Chin Music, another Raymond Donne mystery acquired by St. Martin’s Press. For the past twelve years, he has hosted and produced a bi-weekly reading series of poetry and prose
in New York’s East Village. He lives in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen with his wife, Kate, and their daughter, Eloise.
My Interview with Tim O’Mara
1. Mr. O’Mara, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your debut mystery, Sacrifice Fly, came out today. Who is Raymond Donne and how did you go about creating his character?
Ray is a NYC schoolteacher who used to be a cop. I’m a NYC schoolteacher and my brother, Mike, is a cop. I always thought between the two of us, we’d make an interesting character.
2. How is Sacrifice Fly different from thousands of crime fiction novels out there?
Sac Fly is different because of Ray. An injury forced him off the force and he decided to become a teacher. When the father of one of his students is murdered and the boy goes missing, Ray’s old cop instincts kick in and he has to return to a world he thought he’d given up. He brings a teacher’s sensibility and a cop’s power of observation to the job of getting the boy back home. Watching him straddle the line between both worlds is
3. How did it happen that you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve always loved mysteries. I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown, Ellery Queen, Columbo, etc. When I discovered Robert Parker’s early Spenser novels, it was like I was struck by literary lightning. I had the incredible urge to construct my own puzzle with an interesting lead character.
4. How did you turn this novel from an idea in your mind to a book published by Minotaur Books?
After many years of reading other people’s not-so-well written books, I challenged myself to either write the damn thing or stop calling myself a writer. It worked. I gave my manuscript to a friend, who gave it to his TV agent, who gave it to a literary agent, and, just like that, I had two agents. It was submitted to 31 different publishers and landed on the right guy’s (Matt Martz) desk at Minotaur.
5. A word of advice for new writers?
There’s always time to write. I used to believe if I didn’t have a large chunk of time to write, I couldn’t write. Guess how much I got done? I learned that a half hour of writing is better than no writing. That half hour often would lead to more time and I let the momentum carry me through to the end. (At least, the end of the first draft.) If you’re not writing, what are you doing?
6. What is your typical writing day?
No such thing for me yet as I still have a demanding day job, which I love. My best days are nights when I’m not exhausted from teaching or parenting. Weekends are consistently good for a few hours a day and, as a teacher, I do get summers off. This past summer, I wrote 50,000 words to the sequel, Chin Music. I’d get up, do whatever father things I had to do, then disappear and write for a few hours. A lot of my writing is done in my head and then I put it down on paper the next chance I get. (Treadmills are great for writing in my head.)
7. What other books are you working on at the moment?
I just finished the first draft of my second Raymond Donne novel, Chin Music. If all goes well, it’ll drop next year at this time. I’m in the very beginning stages of sketching out the third Ray story. And, of course, I’m constantly writing lesson plans for sixth grade math.
8. What do you like to read and what are you reading now?
My new heroes are Don Winslow and Marcus Sakey. I read primarily within the crime genre and loved to be thrilled by someone I’ve never read before. At this moment, I’m reading Dare, by Megan Abbott, who is a dynamite writer.
9. What can readers expect to find in Sacrifice Fly?
Readers can expect to find a hero they can relate to. Ray has his weaknesses, both physical and emotional, and comes to terms with them during the book. I also think they’ll enjoy the sense of humor and some oddball characters. (It was hard in a first-person narrative, but I gave most of the best lines to the other characters.) Library Journal likened the tone of my book to The Rockford Files. That was about as good as it gets.