Exclusive Interview with

Irial O'Farrell

Let’s start with your Career as a writer!

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When did you start writing?

I think I've always enjoyed the process of writing. There are times when I crave just picking up a pen and writing. I don't have opportunities to write with a pen nearly as much as I'd like to. By the time I wrote my first book, in 2011, I had been starved of my usual outlets to write and the urge to write a book became too strong for me to ignore.

Irial O'Farrell
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What makes writing your passion?

I never really realised that writing was a passion. I've always loved books and I love words, and clever phrases. When I wrote my first book, in 2011, I still didn't see myself as an "author". However, when I started writing articles, as a way of promoting my second book, it dawned on me that perhaps I am actually an author. It's starting to sit better with me.

I do love crafting words into meaning that people "get". At the moment, I'm sticking to the non-fiction business and management genre but I think there might be a couple of novels lurking inside me. I've taken a few creative writing courses and loved them, so who knows...

Irial O'Farrell
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How long have you been writing?

I remember my first attempts where when I was about 11 or 12 years old but I'd put them in the category of "everyone did that!" There was nothing special about them. I have always been curious about the process of writing a book and the need to loop around and make sure it all makes sense. In terms of really writing books, I've been writing since 2011. However, I did write training manuals prior to that, which I think met my writing needs.

Irial O'Farrell
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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

It's so long ago, it's hard to remember. There was definitely a sense of achievement and a sense of pride. I had written the book I wanted to write. Interestingly enough, I originally was going to write a book on Performance Management but my original approach didn't feel quite right. When I hit upon the idea of writing about Values, I knew it was the book I was mean to write. I've now circled back and my second (and third) book(s) is in the performance management space.

Irial O'Farrell
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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

As it's a non-fiction book, the characters are only developed so far as necessary to share the points around objective setting. I find using stories and examples make what can often be very dry topics, a lot more engaging.

Irial O'Farrell
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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

It's not so much about what annoys me but about the part I least like, about writing books and that's the editing part. I find that tedious. Necessary but tedious. For my upcoming book, which I'm hoping will be launched in May/June of this year, I had written about 8 chapters and then edited them. I then finished the majority of the book and edited the whole book and there were still loads of things I found needed changing in the first 8 chapters, even though I had already edited it!

Irial O'Farrell
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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

I haven't found "writer's block" to be a bit issue for me, so far. Since I write about content I've had endless discussions about, for me, it's more about how do I best present the information, to make sense of it while also keeping the reader's attention.

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

For me, what keeps me going is that I have seen so many managers want to do the right thing, by their teams, but don't necessarily know how to go about it and I know that my knowledge can help them.

Again, I write in the non-fiction genre, but for all writers, I'd say to understand what is driving your writing and keep drawing on that, during the tough times. It can also be about doing a little each day, so that one day, you'll get there.

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

I'd say "stop being so black and white, and find the grey"

Irial O'Farrell
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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 to deal with any bad ones. When I do receive a bad one, I hope I'll philosophically say to myself "oh well, you can't please all the people all the time" but who knows?

Irial O'Farrell
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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

It's a great feeling, when I get a good review. It makes it all very worthwhile and I'm delighted that I can help make someone else's life just that little bit easier.

Irial O'Farrell
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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Irial O'Farrell
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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

Irial O'Farrell
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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

I think the book cover is important to attract readers to buy the book. A book can't be read, if it's not seen or bought. So, as a driver to getting the book into someone's hands and that hopefully they read it, yet it is important.

Irial O'Farrell
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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 love to hear from readers about what they took from the book and how it has made their life a little bit easier. That's a huge part of why I write.

Irial O'Farrell
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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

When people appreciate my work, I feel that it makes sense and that it makes a difference. I haven't been recognised in public yet but I was listening to a podcast recently and the interviewee mentioned my own podcast interview (with the same podcast host) and referenced both my books, at two different points. That was kinda special!

Irial O'Farrell
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Who is your favorite author? Why?

I love a Michael Connelly, for Bosch, and I'm a huge Marian Keyes fan, for humour. I'm also a huge Harry Potter fan and read the books every 2-3 years.

Irial O'Farrell
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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

Ah, the dream...in the business book world, I noted that Adam Grant published a book recently and was selling 1,000+ books a day. I'd love to be that big that my book launches go that well!

Irial O'Farrell
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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

It's not so much that I'd re-write my first book but what I am planning on doing is breaking it into two books. The book, Values - Not Just for the Office Wall Plaque: How Personal and Company Values Intersect, is a book of two halves. The first half deals with one's personal values and why they matter. The second half of the book really is for leaders, executives and HR, who can influence, articulate and mould the company's values in a way that most employees can't.

What has become apparent to me is that while the original book is still very valid for a cohort of people, the broader appeal is actually in the first half of the book i.e., the personal values. So, I'm going to re-publish the first half of the book as a stand-alone book that any employee would be interested in reading. I've had people change jobs and careers, from reading that book, so I think it would bring a huge amount of personal insight and awareness to a large number of people.

Irial O'Farrell
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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

I'm not sure I'd particularly want to switch places with any author but I'd certainly like the profile that certain authors have.

Irial O'Farrell
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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.

Will I be trolled, if I answer this? I might just get my first bad review. Maybe when it does eventually happen, I can just blame the trolls. Excellent, that's for that idea!

Irial O'Farrell
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What would you say to your readers?

I'd say that if you manage people and/or you're a leader, you should read my books, because you will get great insights into management and leadership, in a very practical and easy-to-read style.

Irial O'Farrell

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

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

I live in Dubin, Ireland. I'm married with 3 children and 2 cats, although the cats aren't really my idea.

Irial O'Farrell
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What is your day job if you have one?

I'm partner, leading out Organisation Design and Change Management, in Pebble Business Transformation. We work with medium to large companies that have recognised the need to change their business processes, due to a changing marketplace or strategy, they've outgrown their current business model/processes or they have merged and what to maximise the return of investment.

Irial O'Farrell
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What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I write (of course), run or cycle, go to the park with the kids and meet up with friends. I also love to travel, so some of my time is spent planning for or enjoying trips.

Irial O'Farrell
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Did you have a happy childhood?

On the whole, yes, I did have a happy childhood. It probably wasn't the most typical of childhoods but nothing overly dramatic or traumatic.

Irial O'Farrell
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Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?

In terms of seriously writing books, there wasn't a specific incident that made me start writing but there was a change in circumstance, that meant I ended up writing. I had been working in a training & development function. As part of my role, I had to write the workbooks and, at times, procedures and policies. Writing those documents were sufficient to meet my need to write. I then set up my own consultancy in 2006 and that writing outlet was removed. I didn't realise it at the time, but the need to write was definitely building up inside me, to the point that by 2010/2011, I just needed to write and writing a book gave me a reason.

Irial O'Farrell
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Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?

I am working on my third book, The Manager's Dilemma - How to Empower Your Team's Problem Solving, which I am hoping to publish in May/June 2021. I'm currently in my favourite stage of the process - editing! The book is about the dilemma that a manager faces, between sorting out the team's issues themselves (and becoming a bottleneck) or empowering the team to be able to sort out their own issues. It is both a complex and subtle topic. The book sets out how to develop different team members', depending on their starting point, while also examining the manager's own mindset and how it contributes to the dynamic.

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

Philosophy and logic.

Irial O'Farrell
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If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?

Irial O'Farrell
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What is your favorite music?

With itunes, I'm really enjoying downloading old albums I used to have, and re-living my youth. I'm a huge Billy Joel fan but also like Peral Jam, The Hothouse Flowers, and The Jam.

Irial O'Farrell
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Share a secret with us 🙂

My favourite food is Italian

Irial O'Farrell

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