Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Author in the SpotLight - Stephen O'Donnell

I had the privilege recently to Interview Stephen O'Donnell, Author of the terrific novel 'Paradise Road'.  A fabulous book, especially for fans of football or anybody connected to football in any way. It is the story of a group of Celtic Fans, a book about passion, love, hopes and dreams amidst a backdrop of cultural differences and sectarianism.


 Who is Stephen O’Donnell? Where did you grow up and what did you do before becoming an Author?

  I'm from Scotland but I haven't always lived here. When I was growing up we moved around a lot. But I'm back in Glasgow now and it's my home. Before becoming an author I worked in London selling computers. I gave it up to go travelling and when the money ran out, that's when I came home. I asked myself what did I really want to do next and writing a  novel was my number 1 answer.

Have you always wanted to write or did you always want to do something else?
 I wanted to play football. The idea of writing novels occurred to me relatively late on, previously I always thought it was something I could never do. 

What Authors or books inspired you to write?

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
The Football Factory by John King
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
1984 by George Orwell
 Are you as big a fan of Celtic as Kevin McGarry and what are your own thoughts about the state of Scottish football? 
 I always think it is a shame that the league isn’t more competitive and it’s a shame we have so many foreign players when I’d like to see more young talented Scottish players coming through.
      My family are all Celtic supporters and it's something I always came back to despite not always living in the area. I deal with the state of Scottish Football in my second novel, the Scottish Football Debate. The book will be out soon, so you can make up your own mind if you get the chance to read it. Basically Scottish Football has been ruined by money, or the culture of money that has come into the game.
 Are you planning on writing more football based novels or do you see your writing going in different directions? What can we expect from you in the coming years? 
 I'm working on the second book just now and I have 80000 words already. I think I'll need about 20000 more. Beyond that, I'd like to write a European novel about a professional footballer who is transferred around various clubs in Europe, we see how he mixes in with the different cultures and lifestyles etc.
 Where did you get the idea or the inspiration for ‘Paradise Road’? 
 You're always told to write about what you know and that's more or less what I did. In many ways as the author I'm imagining a life that I may have had if I'd stayed and grown up exclusively in the Glasgow area, like the rest of my wider family.
 What advice would you give to other aspiring writers who are hoping to get published?
 Sorry to be negative but it's really, really difficult. Either be unashamedly commercial, or if like me you can't do that, then have a go by all means but don't let it consume you. If it does then your life can quite easily veer off course.
 What do you like to do outside writing? What are your interests and passions?
 Football was my first love so I'm fortunate to be able to write about it. I've always been interested in astronomy and I like playing the piano, I'm kinda self-taught so I'm not brilliant but I can bash out a few of the Classics.
 Who is the best football player you have ever watched and what is your favourite goal? Personally my favourite goal was Ricardo Villa for Spurs against Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup Final.
 It's a toss up between Messi and Maradona. As a youngster I seem to remember being more in awe of Maradona but my age may have had something to do with that. I'll give it to Messi although the best goal has to go to Maradona for his second against England in the 86 World Cup Quarter final. Apologies to your English readers for that.
 Finally, Stephen, if you had a magic lamp and you had three wishes, what would you wish for? 
 World Peace, being able to eat cakes and chocolate without getting fat, and a film deal.
You can follow Stephen on twitter  at  
I'd really like to thank Stephen for letting me interview him for SATT and I would fully recommend his 'Paradise Road' whether you are a football fan or not. It is very cleverly written and I think he is a big talent for the future. Maybe one day I may get him to become an honorary supporter of Wigan Athletic :) 

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