O'Brien, Bill

O'Brien, Bill

Information

residence
Otago
Primary publisher
Scholastic NZ
Rights enquiries
rla.richards@clear.net.nz
Publicity enquiries
rla.richards@clear.net.nz

In Brief

Bill O'Brien is a writer and former police officer who has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children. O'Brien's in-depth research and inside knowledge give his crime books for adults and children a ring of authenticity. His book Aramoana: 22 Hours of Terror was the basis for the film Out of the Blue, directed by Robert Sarkies. While dealing with sensational topics, O'Brien never forgets the human cost and consequences behind the crimes he examines.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

O'Brien, Bill (1946 - ) is a writer and former police officer who has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children.

His first book, Aramoana - 22 Hours of Terror (1991), gives "the police inside story" of New Zealand's most notorious mass murder. O'Brien was responsible for handling the intense national and international media interest in the case as it unfolded. Re-issued in 2006, the book became the basis for the award-winning film, Out of the Blue, directed by Robert Sarkies.

Shattered Dreams (1996) is subtitled "Families of New Zealand Murder Victims Speak Out". O'Brien's extensive experience in the victim support field is evident in his sensitive and thoughtful approach, and in his call for greater support for victims of crime. The book features the stories of a diverse range of people who, as O'Brien writes, "never would have imagined being thrust into the turmoil of homicide."

Agents of Mayhem (2000) looks at the global phenomenon of mass murderers. It sets out to establish a psychological and behavioural profile which can be used to help police track down these "agents of mayhem" even before they strike.

O'Brien's first book for children is The Hostages (1996). With simple text and photographic re-enactments of real-life situations it tells the story of two crimes, a hold-up and a hijacking. His other early titles for children, most with a similar high-impact format, cover topics like police dogs and police patrol driving.

O'Brien's in-depth research and inside knowledge give his books for adults and children their ring of authenticity. While dealing with sensational topics, O'Brien never forgets the human cost and consequences behind the crimes he examines.

The Gene Seekers (2001) is a Ministry of Education publication. It tackles the issue of cancer and the effect it can have on those touched by it, and of those scientists who are searching for a cure. The book follows a ground-breaking research project into a Bay of Plenty whanau which has a genetic predisposition to stomach cancer.

Other titles in this series include Solar Challenge (2000) and Takahe (2007). The first looks at the science and technology involved in building a solar powered car constructed by Hutt Valley High School students. The second examines moves to save the endangered Takahe.

Unmasked (2001) is a children's novel about the power of the curse of the Pharaohs.

Other children's non-fiction titles by Bill O'Brien include Police Dog (1996) Flying High (1999), and In Touch (2001).

Fragile Cargo (Lothian Books, 2003). Two yachtsmen stumble across a smuggling ring involving the illegal trading of endangered birds and animals. Spotted by the smugglers, Ricky and Duncan soon find their very lives are in danger.

His adult non-fiction book, The F Word (David Bateman Ltd) was released in 2004, and was written in collaboration with Dr Rachael Taylor of the University of Otago Human Nutrition Department. It is a parent's guide to preventing childhood obesity.

Castaway: The Diary of Samuel Abraham Clark, an historical novel in the Scholastic My Story series was released in October, 2006. The book details a shipwreck on Disappointment Island in 1907 and the subsequent rescue of 14 survivors. Castaway was a finalist in the Junior Fiction category of the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Invisible Evidence: Forensics in New Zealand (David Bateman, 2007) is an informative book about police and ESR forensic processes here in New Zealand. The book covers the very latest techniques used in crime scene investigations

In 2008, Bill O'Brien was the Children's Writer in Residence at the University of Otago College of Education.

O’Brien has also written two books under the name William J. O’Brien alongside Lesley Elliot. Sophie’s Legacy: A Mother’s Story of her Family’s Loss and Their Quest for Change (Penguin Books, 2011) is a tribute to Lesley’s daughter, Sophie Elliot, the victim of a brutal murder.

Elliot and O’Brien also wrote Loves Me Not: How to Keeo Relationships Safe (Penguin Books, 2014), a book providing advice on how to identify and combat the signs of an abusive relationship.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

  • Christchurch Libraries interview with Bill O’Brien
  • RNZ interview with Bill O’Brien and Lesley Elliot
  • Bill O'Brien's profile - University of Otago College of Education Writer in Residence 2008

Updated January 2017.