MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO
As Brendan Sean Sullivan gets ready to release his second novel, he’s hoping to get some of the same positive feedback he received from his first.
Sullivan, 48, was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, then came to the United States as a toddler in 1970. His parents settled in Frankford for a bit before raising their children in Summerdale on the 1000 block of Rosalie St., where they still live.
For his first novel, Sullivan wrote Irish Blood, self published in January 2014. The historical fiction thriller centers around American Mick McKenna, whose wife, a photojournalist, is killed on their honeymoon in Belfast in a car bombing in the spring of 1998. Then, some time passes.
“He inexplicably has the need to go back,” Sullivan said.
Mick is taken in by a salt-of-the-earth Irish family, but is soon in the middle of the 800-year-old Irish struggle for peace and freedom. He has to make a big decision, which could derail the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement and end any hope for freedom in Northern Ireland.
Irish Blood is available for purchase on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and SulliB1.wordpress.com and for check-out at the Elkins Park Public Library.
Sullivan has written a full first draft screenplay for Irish Blood. A Hollywood producer secured the option rights for a movie, but eventually did not pick up the option.
The book has received more than 50,000 downloads and 227 reviews on amazon.com
The reviewers have given him an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars, numbers similar to famed authors such as James Patterson and Michael Crichton.
“That’s validation for me that it was a really good story. People like it. People with an Irish affiliation really like it,” Sullivan said.
For a couple of hours, the book was the №1 free thriller in the United States on amazon.com
“That was really neat,” Sullivan said.
Kirkus, a book review site, has also given it a thumbs up.
“That’s like gold,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan, who was a fan of George Orwell books when he was younger, attended Laura H. Carnell Elementary School through sixth grade before enrolling at St. Martin of Tours. He graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1986 and Penn State in 1990.
With a degree in journalism, he figured he’d become the next Jimmy Breslin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper writer.
But he decided to enroll in law school at a time when he and wife Ann had five children under the age of 5. He earned a law degree from Temple and went to work at a big Center City law firm. The pay was good, but the hours were long.
“I was having dinner with my children three times a month,” he said.
Today, he is a lawyer for AIG insurance company, and works from his Elkins Park home. His five kids, including two sets of twins, are now teenagers.
Sullivan began writing Irish Blood a decade before it was published, but had to put it aside because of work and family obligations.
Tuesday nights became his time to write, because that’s when Ann taught CCD classes, and their kids were among the students.
Sullivan picked up right where he left off.
“I’ve never had writer’s block,” he said.
Sullivan likes the character development and action of Irish Blood, and he promises more of the same for Sleeper Cell, which will come out in the spring. He might self publish again, since Amazon makes it so easy.
“My genre is thriller,” he said. “I seem drawn to terrorism and political topics.”
Something else he has going on is a script for a time-travel book that he’s co-written and sent off to Disney.
Sullivan expects to keep on writing.
“I wouldn’t call it a hobby. It’s a career I’m pursuing that I happen to do part time,” he said. “I wish I could do this full time. That would be a dream of mine.” ••
A solemn tale: Brendan Sean Sullivan’s novel, Irish Blood, has received more than 50,000 downloads and 227 reviews on amazon.com. The historical fiction thriller centers around American Mick McKenna, whose wife, a photojournalist, is killed on their honeymoon in Belfast in a car bombing in the spring of 1998. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO