Exclusive Interview with

Irial O'Farrell

Let’s start with your Career as a writer!

When did you start writing?

Looking back, I think my initial writing outlet came in the form of writing letters to my sister, who lived in London, when I was a child. I did dabble in writing fiction when I was around 11 or 12, but I don't think I was very good at it. My next outlet was my job in Training & Development. As part of designing the course, I had to write workbooks, so that scratched the writing itch for me. Several years after leaving that role, I had no writing outlet so the desire to write started to become stronger and stronger, culminating in writing my first book, in 2011.

What makes writing your passion?

Who knows how to answer this question but the need to write definitely builds up inside me. I think I'm a spurt-y type of writer. I get bursts and, once the project is finished, I'm fine for a while but then it builds up again. At times, I also love to actually write with a pen and paper. We use computers so much that I love the motions of actually moving the pen.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first book in 2011 and it was published in 2012. I write business books, so I suppose I needed to build up sufficient experience before I could put a book together. Now I have so many business books that just need to get out. Once they're all done, I might go for the fiction.

What was the feeling when you published your first book?

In some ways, a relief. Writing the content isn't a problem for me but the endless editing I found very painful. The book launch was incredible, nearly 100 people turned up and it was a really great feeling. Afterwards, I kind of forgot that I had actually written a book! Does writing one book make someone an author? Having published a second book, I'm much more comfortable with identifying as an author.

What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

This is a non-fiction book, so this isn't quite as relevant. However, when trying to explain the concepts of business, using characters helps to bring the performance issues to life. There's just not too much depth to them!

What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Oh, by far, the copy editing. The initial structural editing is fine and makes perfect sense. It's reading through the book for the 20th time and still finding more spelling errors I find painful. It never fails to amaze me how another 5 errors crawled into the book, without me noticing!

How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

As I'm writing business books, where the content is based on numerous discussions I've had with many, many managers, the content for my books is very accessible for me, so writer's block doesn't really affect me. It's more a case of getting all the content down and then putting shape to it.

We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

That's a really great question. I suppose for me, it's getting all the content out of my head and onto the page but what drives me to finish it and actually get it published is the difference the book can make to those that read it. I have worked with so many managers that want to do the right thing by their team and just need some help. Knowing that my books can help them keeps me going. If you're struggling to keep going, my advice would be to identify "why" you're writing this book and keep reminding yourself of that, during the difficult bits.

If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Find out about Personal Values asap.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I do read my book reviews and so far, I haven't had a bad one. Phew!

What is the feeling when you get a good review?

Oh, it's a great feeling. That you've written something that someone else has read and that they've found beneficial is just brilliant. It's why I write.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

As a non-fiction book, I have included some real-life situations.

Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?


What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

To attract people to pick up or select your book, out of all the other books available, yes the book cover is as important. Without readers picking up the book, the book will never be read.

Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

Oh I'll happily chat to anyone about my book. Sometimes, people will say to me that they've read my book, so I'm always curious to find outwhat they took from it.

How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

Very humbled that I have written something that someone has found beneficial.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

I love Marian Keyes, as she writes very witty books about human frailties. I also enjoy a good Michael Connolly. I'm also a fan of fantasy, such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games.

What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

In the business book world, I'd love to be as big as Stephen Covey, as his work has had such a huge impact on the business world.

Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

At the moment, I wouldn't re-write my Values book but what I am going to do in 2021 is re-launch it by splitting it into two books. Feedback from people who have read it, but that aren't in senior management or running their own businesses, is that they have gotten huge benefit from reading the first half of the book but the second half, which deals more with how to identify and embed company values, isn't as relevant to them. People have changed jobs and careers off the back of reading the first half. So I 'm going to publish the first half as a stand-alone book, for those people who want to understand values and the conflict that they are experiencing in their lives, due to values clashes.

If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

Oh, what a brilliant question. Possibly someone like Simon Sinek or Daniel Pink, who have a huge audience and platform and people actually quote their work. In my wildest dreams, I could go for that!

What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.

Not a lot.

What would you say to your readers?

Please help me get the word out about my books. If you've read them, please leave reviews on Amazon and tell your friends, family and colleagues about them. If you want to share feedback or share stories, please feel free to email me and stay in touch by visiting my website and signing up to my newsletter.

Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!

Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?

I live in Dublin, Ireland. I'm married and have 3 kids and 2 cats.

What is your day job if you have one?

My day job is working with businesses to increase their performance, through having a clear vision, strategy, and strategic roadmap; an organisation designed to deliver the strategy; a culture that supports the vision and strategy; and leaders and managers with the capability to inspire and deliver the strategy with as least pain as possible.

That translates to services such as:
- Strategy design & innovation workshops
- Strategic planning
- Organisation Design
- Organisational process design e.g., performance management, recruitment, communication, etc
- Leadership & management development
- Executive and team coaching

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

Reading (of course), taxi driver for the kids, running, meeting up with friends, travelling

Did you have a happy childhood?

Yes, I grew up between a small seaside village, just south of Dublin, and a suburb of Dublin.

Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?

As my traditional outlets of writing had dried up, I think the pent up need to write was what made me start writing. If it wasn't the Values book, I was also starting to write a book on the first year of motherhood. Once I hit on the idea that the book would be on Values, that just took over.

Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?

I have mapped out my next book, which is going to be called: Buying Back Time - How to Develop Other People's Problem Solving Skills.

The vast majority of managers tend to be very good at problem solving but less good at developing other people's problem solving skills. Over time, this results in the manager becoming swamped with work and they unwittingly become bottlenecks.

The book will explore what goes on within a team, when it comes to problem solving, the 8 steps to the problem solving process, and how to use the SMART structure, to design targeted problem solving objectives that will result in team members solving much of their own problems, freeing the manager up to focus on more important work.

What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?

Connecting knowledge to the "why" . I think we could bring in a lot more of the philosophy as well.

If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?

What is your favorite music?

Share a secret with us 🙂

Thank you! We wish you the best of luck for you and your art!