Jeremy O’Carroll can still remember with clarity the moment he decided to become a writer. He was 18, studying Italian in Perugia (Italy), lying on his back in a dingy rented room and reading The Magician by Raymond E. Feist.
He was a little homesick, lonely – and in the perfect state to enjoy the fantasy world Feist had created.
With little else to do after class each day, he read first one, then another and another of Feist’s books, until all of a sudden it came to him. He, too, should write!
Creating fictional worlds, helping people overcome homesickness and loneliness – these were good things.
It would be about nine years before Jeremy actually started to write, however. In that time he studied literature and philosophy at the University of Melbourne and did what he believed would prepare him for a writing career. He excelled in academia, won many awards (including a prestigious Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship), tutored, lectured and read as much as he could.
He did everything to fuel his long-term vision of writing, it’s just that academia – so it turned out – wasn’t the most fertile bed for creativity. What’s more, it was one thing to write about writers, and write about what critics wrote about writers, and write about what critics wrote about critics of writers – another thing to actually do some creative writing!
In fact, very little of anything Jeremy learned helped him to create, plot and write a gripping novel. On the contrary, he was so conditioned by university to thinking and writing in a certain style that the first draft of his first novel (Full Speed) bored even him to death.
Having undergone the excruciating task of reading his first draft from beginning to end, Jeremy set about educating himself in the art of writing. This process took a long time and many hundreds of thousands of words of practice, but bit by bit, draft by draft, Jeremy got the hang of plotting and pacing and characterization and the like, until ultimately he produced a profound, philosophical novel that was also a page-turner.
- While never a prodigy like Sebastian (protagonist of Full Speed), Jeremy did play for Australia in the World Junior Chess Championships in Duisburg, Germany (1992).
- Jeremy held the Melbourne Grammar School Year 9 record for the Tan cross-country race for many years and for much of his life prioritized sport (Australian football, cricket, tennis, athletics etc.) above all else.
- Jeremy O’Carroll’s parents founded the hugely successful Fitzroy Community School in Victoria, Australia. Jeremy went there for his primary education before moving on to the much more formal Melbourne Grammar School.
The two strongest influences on Jeremy’s writing career have been Ivan Turgenev (the famous Russian novelist), and Andrea De Carlo, a contemporary Italian writer. Jeremy was doing his PhD on De Carlo before he abandoned it to travel the world and write (no fault of De Carlo’s work!).
Jeremy O'Carroll was born in Melbourne in 1974. He now lives in Daylesford with his partner and daughter.