OAP's brush with death inspired late flowering as author
A pensioner who launched a late career in writing after a brush with death has landed a major book deal with a US publisher - at the tender age of 78.
Newry author Brian O'Hare said he had yearned to be a writer all his life, but it was not until he was diagnosed with liver disease that his creative spark burst into flame.
"When I was 60, I came within an inch of death from liver disease," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"I was given 10 months to live - and in month 10, I got a phone call for a liver transplant. That was in 2002.
"Two years later, I was in France lying on a beach. I'd come through a hell of a lot with illness, and so I sat down and knocked out 100,000 words about the spiritual journey I had gone through."
The book, called A Spiritual Odyssey, was published by Columba Press in Dublin.
It was just the beginning of Brian's new literary life, and he knew he had a lot more to say.
"I felt I could not call myself a writer until I had actually created something - not simply put down my thoughts about my life," he said.
"If you're going to call yourself a writer, you have to create something out of nothing."
He turned to what was happening in Ireland, and wrote Fallen Men - a novel set in the turbulent world of Irish Catholicism.
It told the story of the lives of three priests - one eaten up by ambition, a second with little care for his pastoral responsibilities, and a third who disintegrates psychologically, tormented by childhood abuse.
The book was snapped up by publishers Crimson Cloak, and will be in the shops in January 2016.
He also penned a series of police stories, following the adventures of a Belfast detective, DCI Sheehan.
Author Brian is convinced that everyone needs a little bit of luck to get their break - and he was no exception.
"I sent the Doom Murders - the first of the DCI Sheehan stories - book to Crimson Cloak, and was rejected.
"But the day after receiving the rejection slip, I got a frantic phone call from owner Carly McCracken begging me not to show the manuscript to anyone else."
She had read his first chapters - and decided to overrule her editor and sign him up.
The late-starting novelist offered some sage advice to new authors.
"Short sentences - keep it pacey," he said. "It took me a long time to learn that."
It has taken a while, but interest in Brian's writing is now growing rapidly.
But he is not about to start letting things go to his head.
"After 78 years, I'm finally an overnight success," he laughed.