They say you should write about what you know, and in keeping with that old adage, Barbara O’Connor did just that in her debut novel, ''Goodbye, Paris Nash.
Set in the Hill Country in the mid-1980s, Goodbye, Paris Nash is an easy read, but not one that has a frivolous plot.
Centering the book around characters that are unique and memorable, O’Connor takes a story that is familiar for a lot of people growing up in the somewhat rural Central Texas, and weaves in a multitude of threads, ending up with a timeless, effortless tale that most anyone can relate to on some level.
There is a reason that her novel is successful in creating a believable story line – like any good book; it is inspired by real life.
O’Connor, who writes under the name Barbara Fletcher-Brink O’Connor grew up in San Antonio, and except for a short stint in Louisiana, has lived in Texas all of her life, residing in New Braunfels now with her husband, Philip.
Her grandfather was a rancher, and it is evident by the way she writes about the Alamo City Livestock Exposition that she based upon her experience at the San Antonio Stock Show, which is a large part of the story line, that she has been there a time or two. As a young girl, she says that she never wanted to see an animal slaughtered; she wished she could save them. In her new book, she sets out to do that, at least once.
The story takes readers from San Antonio to New Braunfels, to Kingsland, which I found to be a rather enjoyable journey. It made the book that much better for me, because I have been to the places she writes about, and in reading the book was able to reflect on time spent there.
Barbara’s life has allowed her the opportunity to pursue her writing, authoring a column in the Leon Valley Leader Newspaper, as well as co-hosting a local entertainment review program, “Let’s Go to the Movies”, but she has been thinking about writing this novel since 1986.
The desire to write this novel intensified after she lost her son, J.J., in 2000. As one can imagine, losing a child was heartbreaking, and as she struggled to find her way after his death, she found herself feeling guilty if she didn’t think of him every minute during the day. So, in order to combat that feeling, and as a symbol that he was always with her, Barbara would touch her temple, kiss her fingers, and then touch her heart; taking him from her head, kissing him, and then placing him in her heart, to keep with her all the time. His death made evident the fact that nothing in life is guaranteed.
Barbara renewed her will to move forward with that dream a little over two years ago, when she began in earnest to write her novel. After a dear cousin close in age suffered a massive stroke and not wanting to waste time on the long process of trying to solicit big name publishers, she opted to self-publish.
So far, the response from readers has been outstanding, and reviews of Goodbye, Paris Nash gush about the moving story, and tell how they were not able to put the book down.
Back to Paris – the story starts off being about the love of one young girl for her prize-winning steer. The story ends with people learning how to love one another as they are, finding their way in the world, and finally, how sometimes, a chance encounter can completely change your outlook on life.