Some Thoughts with ... Seán O'Boyle

11 Mar 2024

The Author/s

Seán O'Boyle

Seán O'Boyle

Sean O'Boyle is an Irish, London-based, writer on his self-publishing journey. Since he was a young lad, he's loved creating stories; whether scribbling short fiction in his school copybooks, or creating dramatic home movies with his toys. He's even dabbled in the fine art of stand up comedy, with about half a dozen sitcom scripts rotting in the forgotten folders of his old laptops.

His love for fantasy grew during lockdown through reading the genre; epic, cozy and everything in between. And from this, his fantasy comedy adventure debut "The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company)" was born. Described as "Discworld meets Lies of Locke Lamora", he hopes readers will enjoy the characters, world and story he's been building for 3 years. Hopefully they might laugh too (or at least exhale sharply through their noses a few times).

The Interview

1.- Could you introduce yourself to the readers of the blog?
Hi Jamedi! Hello readers! My name is Seán O’Boyle, and I am an Irish, London-based writer. I’m about to publish my fantasy comedy adventure debut; The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company) which releases March 15th 2024!

2.- How did you start writing?
I’ve always loved creating stories. I think my imagination was captured at a very formative time in my life, probably age 6 or 7. I was obsessed with movies and books, especially learning how they were made. So naturally I decided to take a crack at creating my own art.
I tried everything; writing short stories, drawing my own comic books, making (fairly crappy) stop motion animations with my toys, and making comedy sketch videos with my brothers. Then when I went to university, I picked up the noble art form of stand up comedy which was a whole new world. I learned a lot about the craft of writing, particularly how to write punchy and funny material. However, all this stand up had me neglecting my previous love of reading.
Then during the horrible Covid times, I was locked in my flat and could no longer do stand up comedy. Lockdown was obviously awful so I wanted to find some escapism. I picked up reading fantasy books like Stormlight Archive and Wheel of Time, and fell in love with the genre. But that hunger to create reared its head again, so I took a crack at writing my own fantasy book!

3.- What made you choose self-publishing?
I really wanted to get a book out there and was debating whether to go traditional or self-publishing. Then I read a really great article by Travis Baldree, the author of Legends and Lattes, called The A-Z of Self-Publishing. He laid it out in a way that made it seem like a doable, but also a fulfilling process. Like I said earlier, I’ve always been obsessed with how art of any kind gets made. Therefore getting into the nitty gritty of getting my own book out there seemed like the right level of challenge for me.

4.- Could you tell us more about the original idea for your book The Ballad of Sprikit the Bard (and Company)?
Aside from reading fantasy during lockdown, my friends and I got into doing online Pathfinder sessions. What’s Pathfinder, you ask? It’s like DnD but cooler (expecting lots of backlash for this!). Anyway, my character was (surprise, surprise) a little Bard. He was really crap at fighting and, despite his high charisma, would get the whole party in trouble when failing speech checks. But it made our sessions really funny and unpredictable. 
While I was reading all these fantasy books like Stormlight Archive and Wheel of Time, I asked myself the question: “What if the main character was utterly useless at fighting, ran his mouth all the time, but also had a pretty important quest to complete?” And so from this The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company) blossomed!

5.- You pitched this book as Discworld meets Locke Lamora. Could you tell us more about how you make it work?
So invariably, when you say you’re writing a fantasy comedy book, the natural response is “Oh, so like Discworld?”. Terry Pratchett’s work is so ingrained in the public consciousness, and for good reason. They are great fantasy books, and also bloody hilarious. It’s a silly world with silly rules, but the characters take it all very seriously because it's all they know. Yes, an Assassin’s Guild is an absolutely ridiculous concept, but to the inhabitants of Ankh-Morpork it’s as accepted as the sludge in the River Ankh! And that’s what really makes the books so funny.
So my book is similar to Pratchett’s work, as it’s set in a silly world that everyone takes seriously.
Now when it comes to Lies of Locke Lamora that boils down to the characters in my book. Sprikit shares Locke Lamora’s penchant for the theatrical, as well as complicated schemes to make money. He forms a ragtag bunch of reprobates who work together to overcome some fairly serious stakes. Scott Lynch is really good at twists, and ramping up the stakes. I feel like my book shares some of that.
So in conclusion it’s Discworld meets Locke Lamora because it’s set in a silly world, with serious stakes that have to be overcome by silly characters!

6.- Which authors would you say have been influential for you?
Oh, too many to list! Apart from Pratchett and Lynch, I would have to say Robin Hobb. She’s an absolute genius in helping you understand how a person thinks and feels. You really get into the heads of her characters, and so you come to care about them a great deal. I love how messy and flawed her characters are too. Flawed characters are the best! Who wants perfection?

7.- From all the self-publishing process, which parts would you say are the most challenging? And the most enjoyable ones?
The most challenging part has been formatting the book for publication. It’s an entirely new skill set to me and you have to think about your book in a whole different way. The last three months of my life have been taken up by margins, trims sizes and trying to get my map to look right! I have a lot of bad paperback proofs that need returning, or burning! It also means I have had no opportunity to do any new writing, which I’m missing sorely.
Conversely, I have been loving being able to promote my book and talk about it as an actual book, as opposed to a document that has been sitting on my computer for the last couple of years. It’s also been really enjoyable getting to know people in the indie author scene. Everyone is very supportive and kind. We’re all in it together.

8.- What does Seán O’Boyle like to do in his free time?
Well, as I work a full-time job, my free time is mainly all spent writing or other book related activities! But when I am blessed with a little extra, I love watching movies and playing video games. Recently I’ve been playing the Tomb Raider Remastered Collection. Unfortunately, I cannot allow myself to play for more than an hour at a time, otherwise the crippling guilt of “You should be writing!” begins to set in. 

9.- What can we expect from Seán O’Boyle in the future?
So I am keeping my cards close to my chest on this answer! I have a firm belief of “keep it private, until it’s permanent”. I don’t like to reveal things until they are more solid. What I can say is that once The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company) is out, I will be able to fully focus on writing my next project, while balancing that with my day job and personal life. I am really hoping people enjoy my debut novel and are hungry for more stories in that world, because I certainly have plenty of ideas! 

If you have curiosity for The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company), you can order a copy using this link.