Colm O’Brien: Writing a book based on life and business experience

‘Brought to Book’ Q&A: Founder of Carambola Kidz on learning things he never knew he never knew

Colm O'Brien is founder and managing director of Carambola Kidz - Healthy School Lunches Delivered. Feeding Johnny - How to Build a Business despite the Roadblocks is his first book and is published by Liberties Press. It chronicles the establishing of Carambola Kidz and the failures and successes en route, and is written specifically to help aspiring entrepreneurs.

What was the first book to make an impression on you?

Jonathon Livingston Seagull. A friend gave it to me for my 21st birthday and after the party I sat up all night and finished it. I was so excited I wanted to do something, I just didn't know what.

What was your favourite book as a child?


Famous Five Adventures

And what is your favourite book or books now?

I've so many! Row, Row, Row your Boat by Stephen Lane Taylor.

What is your favourite quotation?

“If you walk in the footsteps of strangers, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” From the lyrics of Colours of the Wind in the Disney Animation Pocahantas

Who is your favourite fictional character?

Steamboat Willie, because he started animation

Who is the most under-rated Irish author?

Yours truly.

Which do you prefer - ebooks or the traditional print version?

E-books simply for convenience. I read via Kindle on my smartphone mostly now.

What is the most beautiful book you own?

Growing the Distance by Jim Clemmer

Where and how do you write?

In my home office in Limerick, or when I’m lucky at a small beachfront café in La Herradura, on the Costa Tropical in Spain (I finished Feeding Johnny there).

I write early in the morning. I allow 30 to 60 minutes per day before I go to the day-job.

What book changed the way you think about fiction?

Not sure. I rarely read fiction these days - maybe I should?

What is the most research you have done for a book?

Very little in truth. My first book Feeding Johnny is told based on my life and business experience to date - the research has been ongoing for 50 years.

What book influenced you the most?

The Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday?

The Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, or Feeding Johnny by yours truly.

What book do you wish you had read when you were young?

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Write for your audience, not for you.

What weight do you give reviews?

Some. I have purchased books based on reviews in the past.

Where do you see the publishing industry going?

Weighing more towards online and downloads, but paper books will be around for a long time to come.

What writing trends have struck you lately?

Simply that there is ever increasing subject matter available as the world changes.

What lessons have you learned about life from reading?

Going back to my favourite quote, “If you walk in the footsteps of strangers, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew”, the lesson for me has been: there are things out there that we don’t know, but there are infinitely more things out there that we don’t even know that we don’t know. How do we learn things if we don’t even know we are looking for them in the first place? One answer is to read.

What has being a writer taught you?

Discipline matters.

Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Stephen R Covey, Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson

What is the funniest scene you’ve read?

‘“Is that your own milk madam?” I asked the horrified young mother who was pushing a buggy with a newborn whilst attempting to balance her self-service tray on which stood a baby bottle ¾ full of white liquid. Her disgusted look instantly made me aware that I had made a mistake; we often sold parents a glass of milk which they put in a baby’s bottle and my question was simply intended to clarify whether the cashier should charge for it or had she brought it from home! Mortified!!! But that’s what happens when you’re learning your trade.’ - From my book Feeding Johnny.

What is your favourite word?

Fleck. No idea why.

What sentence or passage or book are you proudest of?

‘Thanks for thinking with me through these pages. Let’s go make a difference.’ - The last sentence in Feeding Johnny.

What is the most moving book or passage you have read?

I remember reading a book about the famine in Ireland and the despair in the charaters lives was palpable - I could almost hear their pain. Regrettably I can’t remember the name or author.

If you have a child, what book did you most enjoy reading to them?

The Tough Princess by Martin Waddell