About the Book
Title: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End
Author: Ken O’Neill
Published: October 17th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Age Recommendation: 18+
George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.
Let the holiday season begin!
On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.
About the Author
Ken O’Neill is the author of The Marrying Kind, which won the 2012 Rainbow Award for best debut, and the 2013 Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal for LGBT fiction. The Marrying Kind was also a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the Gay and Lesbian fiction category. The book was included on Smart Bitches Trashy Books list of top three favorite novels of 2012.
Ken lives in NYC with his husband and their two cats who think they’re dogs or, perhaps, people. When Ken is not checking his Amazon rating to see if anyone has purchased his books, he enjoys reading, dancing (though usually only when no one is watching) and eating dark chocolate, purely for medicinal reasons. He is at work on his third novel.
1) Describe your relationship with a good book.
It’s very much like the early stages of a romance: All I want is to shut out the rest of the world, and spend time together with this fascinating, wonderful, beautiful book. I want to learn everything I can, and just being close to it.
2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?
By the third or fourth grade I was definitely writing stories. I wrote a series of mysteries featuring two brothers (the Ashe family) and two sisters (the King family) who were amateur detectives. They were called the King/ Ashe Adventures. In my memory they were great! Any resemblance to my brother and me and to the girls who lived across the street, or to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew for that matter, is purely coincidental.
3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.
It’s not great. If I had a boss other than myself I might be fired. Certainly I’d be reprimanded, given a verbal warning. I have written two novels. My debut was THE MARRYING KIND. So I do write eventually, but there are a lot of fits and starts and procrastination along the way. I’m hoping to be more disciplined with the third. I have about 60,000 words of a work-in-process. It will probably end up being shorter in length than George Bailey… Still I imagine I have another 25,000 words to go (before I begin the massive rewriting phase.) Wish me luck!
4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?
Poorly. (See my answer to question 3.) When I’m really in the zone of writing I don’t want to do anything else. But often I’m not in the zone. I’m trying to carve out time for writing and commit to it. That’s my goal! (Wow, my time chatting with Melissa is providing me with insights and proving to be so much more cost effective than hiring a life coach would have been.)
5) Why did you write this book?
This question has more than one correct answer. In my first book there was a character based on my Romanian grandmother. And the main characters were Macedonian/Romanian, which is my ancestry on my mother’s side. My father’s parents were born in Ireland. And my Irish grandmother, Nan, was an amazingly spiritual woman, but not at all sanctimonious. She was a remarkable woman. I knew I wanted to place her, or someone like her, into a made up story. So for a while all I knew was that I wanted to write about Irish/American people, which in and of itself is not a story.
But because of my grandmother’s sweet disposition, I knew I wanted to explore the concepts of kindness in someway. Still not a story. But I was starting to feel like maybe something would come to me. And then one day I forced myself to sit down and write, and out came a scene about a man who walked into a bar and began talking to a woman he’d never met before about It’s A Wonderful Life. I still didn’t know much. But I knew the guy was Irish, had a grandmother, was falling in love with this woman and I knew he hated that Christmas movie.
All that was left for me to do was to keep writing, so I could find out the rest. The little bit I had intrigued me. I really did want to find out what was going to happen. I kept writing.
6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?
As you can probably guess, my family is a big source of inspiration. Specifically my characters often seem to be working through issues with their siblings. I think this is because I only had one sibling, a brother. But he died of AIDS. So I have gone from having a brother to being an only child. Had he lived, I don’t really know what kind of relationship my brother and I would have. I’d like to think it would be good, but I know from my friends’ experiences that that is not always the case. I know many people who don’t speak to their siblings, which I understand, but it saddens me nonetheless. In my books, brothers (and sisters) usually work things out. Or they try to, anyway.
7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?
As an author, I’d love to complete at least two more books. I know a lot or writers finish two novels a year, but that really seems like falling into the category of Overachiever to me. As for my outside life, I love travel. I’d like to do more of that. Perhaps spend six months living in London.
8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.
Had my family not been forced into exile, I would be seventh in line to be crowned King of Macedonia.
All the usual invitations had been extended. Yet oddly, not a single friend—The Strays, they always called them—joined the Baileys for dinner this year. The lack of guests in no way altered the quantity of food the family prepared. It mattered not whether thirty people attended, or just the eight of them. As far as George’s mother, Claire, and his wife, Tara, were concerned, you could not call the day Thanksgiving unless the turkey weighed more than twenty-five pounds. Theirs weighed in at record-breaking twenty-nine point four. Add the stuffing, all the pan drippings, and the cast iron Le Creuset roasting pan to that number, and George was hoisting a weight just shy of forty pounds when his back went out.
Considering George’s relative level of fitness, which was extremely high by American standards, though only average when compared to other Manhattanites, he did not believe it was the weight per se that precipitated his injury. Rather he suspected his troubles were brought on because he had been forced to crouch down when removing the turkey because his wife, for reasons still unknown to him, insisted that the bird go in the lower oven. Not that George blamed her for his mishap. Just at the moment George was taking the pan out of the oven, he remembered being told something about bending with his knees. But by then it was too late. Something deep within his core seized up. As his knees buckled, he lurched forward to the sound of Tara shouting, “Don’t you dare drop that bird, George!”
George spent most of the day alternating between ice packs and a heating pad, because his wife said cold but his mother said hot, and he figured it was easier just to keep them both happy.