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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Interview with '23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.' Robert J. Dornan





Robert J Dornan is someone who wishes to leave a better world to his children. He realizes that the odds are slim but he will do whatever he can to increase the probability of success.  He is always open to discuss new and innovative ideas and hopes someday to see the building of a functional solar city as well as a fair and community-driven compensation system.

Robert’s latest book is the historical fiction, 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.

For More Information


Title: 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
Author: Robert J. Dornan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 550
Genre: Historical Fiction

In the early morning of her sister's wedding day, Mila Kharmalov stared in stunned silence at the coloured sparks streaming from Reactor Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.  At that very moment, her life and the lives of everyone she knew changed forever.

Years later and on another continent, Adam Byrd was writing biographies for everyday people looking to leave their legacy in book form. When the woman he loved phoned from Kiev offering him the chance to write the story of a lifetime, he jumped at the opportunity not realizing that his voyage would be a bumpy ride through a nations dark underbelly. With the help of his friend's quirky cousin, Adam is nudged into a fascinating adventure of love, greed, power and psychotic revenge, culminating with a shocking finale.

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is a work of fiction based on factual events from Chernobyl and villages throughout Ukraine.

For More Information

  • 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is available at Amazon..
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Welcome, Bob! Tell us a little about yourself. 

I am an excessively tall, older man who now lives vicariously through his children.  I’ve downsized a lot in the last year and have become a bit of a minimalist but so much so as to make life less comfortable.  It’s all about comfort! Aside from writing, I have a passion for sustainability projects.  I am presently in the middle of discussions that would see the development of a solar city in the Philippines, complete with vertical towers and solar powered apartment buildings.  I hope it happens because it will be an important template and catalyst for real change.

When did you begin writing? 

I began to dabble in writing during my university years.   I chuckle when I think of myself tapping away on a typewriter as opposed to a keyboard.  I have developed a great admiration for pre-computer authors, understanding that rewrites were not Backspace or Delete but instead a ripping of paper from a tight roll and starting from scratch.  

In my late twenties I wrote a screenplay that went absolutely nowhere but it did get me some chat time with people who needed editing or rewrites.  Those initial gigs got me bigger editing and ghostwriting jobs that allowed me to hone my skills.  When my children were born, I decided to write my own novels and a few years later I wrote a teen book called, Jack City.   Like everything else, my writing career has matured through practice, trial and error. Repeat.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write? 

I’m going to go with both.  I’m too scatter-brained to follow a predetermined plot.  So many variables can change or be slightly altered when you’re on a writing roll thus making what you once believed the best storyline into something you’re glad you changed.

Most of my writing happens at my kitchen table or on my favorite couch.  I also find winter to be my most productive time of the year.  I’m from Canada, so winter lasts forever anyway. 

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is my most ambitious project thus far and I’m very pleased with the results.  After more than four hundred hours of research, I believe I have written a compelling historical fiction based on the Chernobyl nuclear explosion as well as life in Ukraine villages during the years of communist oppression.    The book is centered on two sisters living in Pripyat, a city once known as the jewel of nuclear cities.  When Reactor Four explodes, a series of events leads the sisters on a path to an unsolicited popularity, personal loss and suspense. 

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is not recommended for anyone under eighteen.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I used to follow several discussion boards, one in particular.  Chernobyl was referenced in a thread and at that time, I had no idea what or where Chernobyl was.  My life was pretty well sheltered until 9/11; it was that tragedy that spurred me to expand my news network outside anything local.  The same discussion board also had a category for Arts that included music, poetry and lyrics.  After a few hours of research, I wrote a fifteen verse lyric about the nuclear accident.  The exceedingly long lyric was well received but one comment inferred that a fifteen verse lyric was better off as a book than a song.  So…I didn’t do anything at all.

Then Fukushima happened and a few days later, I was doing further research for 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

The Boris character is my favorite because he’s a loveable loaf with a carefree attitude and a good sense of humor.  He may have a shady family history but he keeps it under wraps and rolls with the flow.   If not for Boris, Aaron could never have learned as much as he did.  Boris, for the most part, is comic relief from an often somber storyline.  When I think of Boris, I think of “Catfishman”. 
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Creating and writing storylines for the characters, Markov and Iona, was very challenging.  Both are very sinister yet they are who they are because of the environments they inhabited.  Markov is used by another character and Iona was dysfunctional from childhood and never escaped the life handed to her.  Researching serial killers and psychologically unstable people was interesting but also disturbing to learn how commonplace mental illness is in the general public.  

Which authors have inspired your writing?  

 I’m going to stick with two authors.  Jerzy Kosinski was a huge influence.  To this day I believe The Painted Bird the best book I’ve ever read. I don’t think I copy his style but whenever I read The Painted Bird, I get inspired and mimic his short, powerful sentence structure.  The other author is Stephen King.  I’m not a big fan of the horror genre but King’s ability to create the boy or girl next door character – templated or not - is second to none.    The first time I read The Stand or Salem’s Lot, I was totally engrossed because of the familiarity I felt with the primary characters.

What projects are you currently working on?

I just finished a revision of Jack City and am close to completing the sequel.  I am also working on a very ambitious novel called, Sins of the Samurai, which I hope to release this time next year.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Write what you want to write and don’t change or edit based on what may be offensive to friends or family or whomever.  The second you edit based on fear of reprisal, your book is lost.
Edit.  Edit again.  Repeat.  When done, edit again.

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