Liverpool Literary Festival: Q&A with Daniel O’Connor

Daniel O’Connor is joined by Liverpool Literary Festival Director, Professor Dinah Birch to discuss the joys and challenges of publishing a first novel, just months after Daniel’s debut tome, Nothing hit the bookshops.

Daniel is also a Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?  

For me it’s the process — assembling a life or a world out of words in response to the life and world you inhabit… Once it’s done it feels separate, distant; the fun’s over.

What do you find challenging about it?

Describing things comes quite easily, but everything else feels like trying to score a free kick with my weak foot. There are also things about a book that you just can’t fix and have to live with, hoping not too many people notice.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

People, mostly. They do things that literature would never expect.

Have you always wanted to write for a living? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up?

For as long as I was serious about doing anything, yes (prior to that — athlete, musician, priest). I’d still rather be a footballer or a cyclist, because I’d be approaching retirement by now. I’m glad I’m not a priest.

What are you currently reading?

I’m re-reading lots of things I’ll be teaching this semester (Ann Quin’s Berg, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, DjunBarnes’ Nightwood). But I’ve also recently enjoyed Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera, Assembly by Natasha Brown.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

I don’t think I could settle on one consistently. But, today it would Katherine Mansfield’s collected stories.

Liverpool Literary Festival runs from October 8 – 10 2021 and is sponsored by Bruntwood and Student Roost. For more information, and to book your tickets, please visit