I was born in the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 1954. I grew up in, and was educated in Dunstable, and moved to a small Buckinghamshire village in 1995. I’ve been married to Carole since 1973 and I’m the proud owner of two golden retrievers, Rory and Murphy.
I started an engineering apprenticeship when I left school in 1970, and qualified in 1975. I worked as an engineer in various Electronic Companies from 1975 up until 1989, when I decided I needed a career change and became an RF Sales Engineer, a job which I still do today.
I love to walk my dogs in the open countryside and I enjoy listening to all types of music. I've been an Eric Clapton fan since I was fifteen years old and have seen him play live around a dozen times. I've enjoyed reading since I was a kid and dreamed that one day I would write a story that people would want to read. So I finally took the plunge and started to write around five years ago. I've always loved fantasy, which is the genre I've chosen for my Jimmy First story.
The first book to make an impression on me was ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, by C.S. Lewis. I was 11 years old. A teacher at my junior school, Stan Knowles, read it to the class. He was a brilliant reader and changed his voice to suit all of the different characters, as he took the class into the magical world of Narnia. I can remember never wanting it to end.
I didn’t find ‘The Lord of the Rings’ until I was in my early twenties but it was worth the wait. Tolkien’s beautiful prose and vivid descriptions made for a memorable read. I also liked Peter Jackson’s films – one of the rare occasions where the film measured up to the book.
I can remember Roald Dahl saying that to write children's stories as an adult, you had to get down on your hands and knees to see the world as a child does. I've always believed that all of the great children's authors have a well developed sense of the child within them, which is why they can write such amazing stories.
I’ve lost count of the number of business meetings I’ve been in where I go off into some fantasy world or work out a plot for a new idea. So I thought it was about time I put some of these strange ideas onto paper. I grew up in the sixties and was brought up on Doctor Who ... and yes I did watch the Daleks from behind the sofa! But it was must watch TV and it fostered a life-long fascination with time travel.
I love the Jimmy First character; I love his innocence and his essential goodness. I wondered what would happen if he had the opportunity to travel into the future to find a cure for his cerebral palsy. 'Jimmy First and Destiny's Watch’ is my first story to be published, and I hope that whoever reads it, will enjoy Jimmy’s journey as much as I've enjoyed writing it ...
Ian O'Neill - March 2010
So much has happened since I first embarked on my writing journey. I published ‘The Time Traveller’s Assistant’ in March 2010, and then republished it with another publisher in 2011 under a new name, ‘Jimmy First and Destiny’s Watch’. In between I published the sequel ‘Jimmy First and the Time Conflict’. All three titles have been well received and I just wish I had more time to promote them.
The last two years have been an amazing learning experience and has brought me into contact with some special people. Michele Ann who designs my front covers; Andrew who designed my original website and has just completed the upgrade, and Sally Aspinall who runs the Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy Centre in Flitwick. Thanks to you all for your help, ideas and inspiration.
But my final thank you goes to an eleven year old boy called Zak, who I’ve never met. He read my first book and wrote a review in pencil on a tatty piece of A4 paper. A friend brought it along to my book signing on Saturday and I left it on the table along with my books and promotional cards. Several potential buyers who weren’t sure whether to buy a book or not were finally persuaded when they read Zak’s review. So thanks mate!
Here’s to my next book and I hope the coming year proves to be as exciting and rewarding as the last one.
Ian O’Neill – November 2011