Welcome to the ‘About’ page.
Some Bio details:
My name is Brian O’Sullivan (Brían Ó’Súilleabháin in Irish) and I’m from County Cork in southern Ireland. These days I’m mostly based in New Zealand (ironic, given that, geographically, this is about as far as you can possibly get from Ireland).
Over the years I’ve been a microbiologist (and, yes, I’ve got the official BSc. from University College Cork), barman, rabbit cleaner (a long story) management consultant, and Gaelic language teacher.
Although I’ve been writing for years, I decided to get a bit more serious about it in 2007 with my first book (a collection of short stories called: Leannán Sidhe – The Irish Muse) published by Steele Roberts Ltd in Wellington. Following that, I got increasingly distracted with research into different elements of Irish culture and folklore, which culminated with a stint as a Writer in Residence at the Stout Centre in Victoria University.
In 2014, my partner ‘K’ and I set up Irish Imbas Books. Occasionally, we’re helped out by my kids (who are much better with tech than we are).
What do we do?
To put it simply, we produce books based on genuine aspects of Irish mythology. We’re very strong on delivering content that’s entertaining but also culturally authentic (i.e. we’re more “Celtic” than “Celtic Fantasy”). There’s an interview here with Capital Irish Radio where I explain a bit more about that.
At the moment, we mainly produce fiction (literary/ adventure/thriller/) that contains strong elements of Irish culture, folklore and mythology (although not so much that they dominate the plots). At present, we have two independent series going; the Beara Trilogy and the Fionn mac Cumhaill series. The first book in the latter was recently selected as a finalist for Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO 2016 competition (a major fantasy competition for small/independent publishers).
Whenever possible, we publish short stories, either as a single item or as part of a collection. In this regard, we also hold an annual Celtic Mythology Short Story Competition which is currently our key mechanism of getting free – but accurate – information on Celtic culture out there into the world. Over the next year (2017) we’re also hoping to produce some unique works on Irish culture/folklore as well.
Mostly, we publish and sell our books through ebookstores such as Amazon/ Kobo/ iBooks/ Barnes & Noble and so on. Recently, we’ve started to provide digital books (DRM-free) and audiobooks through the shop on this site as well. Hard copies are available through Amazon (Createspace) and most can be ordered through any bookshop.
At present, much of the content we produce is in written narrative form but, given the kind of content we’d like to produce, in future – if all goes to plan – you should see products available through other mediums as well.
What’s Our Motivation?
Personally, I have three main motivations for writing what I do.
First, I love telling stories. It’s what I enjoy most and what I think I do best.
Secondly, from a personal perspective, I‘m completely and utterly passionate about Irish/Gaelic culture and language – both ancient and contemporary (Honestly, I could quite happily spend the rest of my life browsing through arcane, dust-covered books on Gaelic culture and improving my Gaeilge!)
Thirdly, there’s a shocking dearth or reliable information about Irish and Celtic culture out there.
Over the years, we’ve encountered many people of Irish descent (and even some Irish people) who’ve been completely disconnected from their cultural heritage, through no fault of their own. By ‘cultural heritage’, I’m not talking about passports, accents, family connections or anything like that. I’m talking about the less defined things: connection to heritage, identity, alternative cultural concepts, those background things that give real depth and resonance to our lives
I’m hoping to help people reclaim some of that through the books, articles and writing we produce here.
What does ‘Imbas’ mean?
‘Imbas’ is a very old Celtic word meaning ‘knowledge’. Unlike the modern Irish equivalent (eolas), the word ‘imbas’ has always had the connotation of ‘restricted knowledge’. Most often, it was used when referring to the secret knowledge kept by the druids or poets.
In some respects, that knowledge is still restricted as a vast amount of Irish cultural knowledge is still locked away in the realms of academia, rare and somewhat esoteric books, or remains untranslated from the Irish form. In this respect, it’s clear that Irish cultural knowledge remains completely inaccessible to the general population.
Given the kind of books I write, the word ‘imbas’ seemed a natural fit.
The Blog and the Newsletter
Every week (I used to say Monday’s but life has a way of intervening), I blog on elements of authentic Irish culture (contemporary or historical), Irish mythology and folklore, occasionally on new books or writing, interviews, other things that amuse me. Most of our more in-depth news and articles go out in the increasingly popular, monthly newsletter.
I hope that some of the topics raised will entertain or stimulate interest and encourage people to provide feedback and relevant commentary.
If you’re Irish (at home or overseas), someone of Irish heritage, someone who has an interest in Irish culture, or simply someone who goes soft inside at the sound of an Irish accent, I hope you enjoy your visit.
Submitting books/stories for Review
We’ve recently been inundated with requests to look at/review/consider submissions so I’m going to have to clarify our policy on that here. I’m sorry, but with the best will in the world we simply don’t have the capacity to do that at present. We’re a tiny company and we tend to work on a project basis, hiring the technical expertise we need as required. Between the research we do, publishing 2-3 books a year and investigating other projects, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to look at other people’s work.
Reviewing a novel can take up to 20-40 hours (to read it and develop comments/suggestions that might be useful for the author). That’s why there are people who do this as a specific profession.
The best advice we can give is to enrol in a local writing group or get people whose judgement you trust to give you honest commentary. Apart from that, we wish you the best of luck.