Author D. M. O’Neal - I began writing Shambles when my husband chose to disappear to escape the law and the IRS in 1993.


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A brief about author D. M. O’Neal


D M O'Neal was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to young parents in the early sixties and lives there today. She lived much of Megan Brook's life from her debut novel SHAMBLES. Yearning for an education as a single mother, she spent eleven years attending college while working as a forensic lab technician.

She obtained a BS and has amassed a thirty-one-year career as a forensic scientist/crime scene analyst. Her debut novel SHAMBLES is available at Amazon/Shambles/DMONeal & barnesandnoble.com/shambles-dm-oneal  


The interview:


How long did it take to get your first novel / book published?
It took longer to write Shambles, than to get it published. Eight years to see it as a traditionally published book and fourteen years to write. I began writing Shambles when my husband chose to disappear to escape the law and the IRS in 1993. I found the ending when a close friend died in 2007. 

What mistakes did you make with the publishing of your first book which you try not to repeat?
It wasn’t a mistake at the time, it was a gesture of love. After finishing Shambles, I queried and pitched many agents for a couple of years. Then I was diagnosed with a very rare and terminal cancer. As I began to fight for my life, I expressed to a couple of close writer friends, that I would never see Shambles as a book. They self-published Shambles and brought me a box full of copies of my book to share with family and friends. I went through eighteen months of chemotherapy and liver resection surgery beating the terminal diagnosis.



So, I pitched and queried agents again, once they heard my story, they rejected Shambles because it was self-published, but three agents wanted my memoir. I wrote it, but it turned into an autobiography far too personal and painful to give away.     

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Can you focus on working on two books or stories at the same time?
Yes, I can. I actually have a historical fiction with strong southern women. It’s about six women that grew up together trying to solve the murder of one, many years before. The grandmother of another tells them of a murder she witnessed as a young girl. 



I’m also working on a collaboration with another writer, about two writers who kidnap a literary agent (think 9 to 5 meets Misery). Most of my time currently is spent on the sequel to Shambles. I like changing gears, when I get too heavy into one, I can switch to another more light-hearted piece of work.  

Is there a modus operandi you follow and formulate before you actually start writing your next book?
I start with an outline and a sketchy plot, then I take off and let the characters tell me their story. Sometimes I reign them in, other times I don’t. I'm more of a pant-ser than a plotter.

Read this before you go ahead and publish

your book.


Does the writer’s block actually exist? Any tips you would give to come out of it.
I seldom experience writers block. I suffer lack of time and procrastination when I do have time. I work full time as a forensic chemist and volunteer on the anthropology recovery team. Writing time is valuable and elusive. If I get stuck, I listen to music or research the topic I’m stuck on. Wine helps too.


What was the book that most influenced your life, and why?
I can’t name just one. As we mature, we absorb knowledge on different levels. Early in life, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was the only book. In my teenage years, Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi and Kidnap, The Story of the Lindberg Case, by George Waller set me on the path to science. Later in life, Many Lives Many Masters, by Dr. Brian Weiss defined my spiritual beliefs. All of these books shaped my career in forensic science, my writing and my day to day life.  

A must read if you want to improve your 

writing style.



How often do you read other novels? Who are your favourite authors?
I’m usually reading fellow authors in my writers’ workshop. I like to support their work. I’m a huge fan of Michael Connelly, I read everything Bosch. I think Pamela Skjolsvik is a very talented writer and who doesn’t love J.K. Rowling?