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THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016
The Rockaway Times
KEEPING US IN SUSPENSE
THOMAS O’CALLAGHAN: ROCKAWAY’S OWN THRILLER WRITER
By Katie McFadden
There’s a thriller writer in our
midst. Belle Harbor resident
Thomas O’Callaghan may be
one of the nicest guys you’d
meet, so it’s hard to believe
that some of the darkest, most
twisted scenes in thriller writ-
ing have come from his mind.
O’Callaghan has been a pub-
lished thriller writer since 2006,
with two novels under his belt
and he’s on currently writing
his next horrifying tale.
O’Callaghan knows that the
path to publication can be a
scary one itself. Before becom-
ing an author, O’Callaghan
had been working in insur-
ance sales for about 20 years.
Having nailed the job down
pat, he found more free time to
read. “I liked to read mysteries
and thrillers. I had read
Helter
Skelter
and that intrigued me
because of the detail and cra-
ziness of it and it stuck in my
head. After reading my 12th
book in the 87th Precinct series
by Ed McBain, I thought, I can
do this,” O’Callaghan said. In
1993, he sat at a typewriter and
started to develop a story of his
own. He started working on a
book called
Nightkills
, which
would later be called
BoneThief
when it was published, but the
path to publication took a lot of
perseverance.
“It took 12 years for me to get
a contract to publish,” O’Cal-
laghan said. “I wrote what I
thought was a good thriller.
Nightkills
was my baby. I didn’t
want to go the self-publication
route. I wanted it to go through
a publishing house,” he said.
So he got to work. “Publish-
ers require submissions to go
through a literary agent that
screens them. I must have sent
out my first manuscript to 500
agents. I got a lot of nos. You
mail out a fewopening chapters
and a letter explaining what the
story is about. A lot of people
would say no thanks, or would
send back notes or would say
serial killers are overdone,
but sometimes you’d get a re-
sponse saying they liked it and
wanted to see a manuscript.
You send out a 400-page manu-
script that you think will be the
next best seller and twomonths
later you get it back with a list of
reasons why they didn’t like it.
This went on for years,” he said.
Yet O’Callaghan was per-
sistent. “Every time I got a no,
I’d send a new manuscript out
to another agent. After work-
ing in insurance sales, I found
that when you ask a person to
buy a product, the likelihood is
they’ll say no, but eventually,
someone is going to say yes,”
he said. O’Callaghan received
a lot of feedback and was ad-
vised to take his work to a pro-
fessional editor or book doc-
tor. He did some research and
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Continued on page 10
THOMAS O’CALLAGHAN