Stephen O'Connor is a fiction writer from Lowell, Massachusetts, where much of his work is set, though some novels and stories are set in France or Ireland. He is the author of two books of stories, as well as three novels that span the genres of mystery, historical fiction, and literary comedy. He has published in numerous literary journals including The Massachusetts Review, The Amsterdam Quarterly and Aethlon. O'Connor won the Helen Literary Award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize; his stories have earned Distinguished Mention Awards in the Open Road Review Short Story Contest and the Elinor Lipman Literary Contest.
I was raised in a family with Irish immigrant grandparents on both sides. Irish poetry and songs and Catholic hymns were my first introduction to imaginative and poetic language, and set me on the course toward becoming a writer. I grew up in what was then the down and out mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts. By what Brendan Behan would call "a bloody great stroke of luck," I was able to go to school in Ireland, and later, to live and work in France. Returning to Lowell, I met Olga Ortiz, and married into a wonderful Colombian family. Olga and I still live in Lowell, as, right now, do our son and daughter, and I still love the city and its people.
Literary agents are frustrated with me because they don't know what shelf to put me on. Smokestack Lightning is a collection of short stories, but contains the humorous story "The Hipster's Hopper," which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Massachusetts Review, as well as the more poignant "Ride Captain Ride," and "No Mortal Place,"
The Spy in the City of Books is a historical novel and a mystery, based in large measure on conversations with former OSS spy and saboteur, Edwin Poitras. The Witch at Rivermouth has been called a "cerebral mystery." This Is No Time to Quit Drinking is a comic novel with elements of magical realism, inspired by such writers as Kingsley Amis, Mervyn Wall and Flann O'Brien. My newest book, Northwest of Boston, is a collection of stories set primarily in Lowell.
I believe that it's my job as a writer to put the reader in a particular place, and to make him or her feel some emotion or share some realization with a character. And, of course, to tell a good story.