Thursday, September 25, 2014

David O'Brien - Five Days on Ballyboy Beach

Contemporary Romance shines as David J. O’Brien returns to The Plain with a wonderful post about crossing the line from friendship to love. What makes it happen, or keeps it from happening? David explores this theme in his brand-new release, Five Days on Ballyboy, set in western Ireland and already receiving rave reviews. Welcome back, David. You have the stage!
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The story of Five Days on Ballyboy Beach revolves around the narrator, Derek, and his discovery that he's in love with his best friend.

Here's the Blurb:
A startling revelation - the long-time friend you never viewed romantically is actually the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.

But what do you do about it?

For Derek, a laid-back graduate camping with college friends on Ireland's west coast in the summer of 1996, the answer is … absolutely nothing.

Never the proactive one of the group - he's more than happy to watch his friends surf, canoe and scuba-dive from the shore - Derek adopts a wait and see attitude. Acting on his emotional discovery is further hindered by the fact he's currently seeing someone else - and she's coming to join him for the weekend.

As their five days on the beach pass, and there are more revelations, Derek soon realises that to get what he desires, he'll have to take it. Events conspire to push him to the forefront of the group, and, as unexpected sorrow begins to surround him and his friends, Derek grasps his chance at happiness. After all, isn’t life too short to just wait and see?
It's a cliché of course. Since the movie When Harry Met Sally, it's a tired cliché. But then, course, the best clichés become so because they're so true. And this particular revelation happens every day.

The question I have, though, and which I want to ponder briefly, is why?
David J. O'Brien

Why the change in how you see one another?

Is it an epiphany, or a slow realisation, first of all? What is it that changes in the relationship?

People say your hormones can change. The contraceptive pill can alter whom women are attracted to. When they go off it (for whatever reason), they can suddenly become open (biologically) to someone who had previously been out of their olfactory range - or on a different wavelength, as it were. They had been "unable" to consider the person attractive because they seemed genetically incompatible.

However, men are not so affected in this way, so why would they not have been making moves on the girl the whole time?

They might have been - just too subtly to be picked up if someone wasn't looking for it or didn't want to see it. And/or they might have been holding back from doing something like that because they were in the "friend zone," or had an intuition that their overtures would be unwelcome. (What? men with intuition? As the writer of the novel, I have to try to make this case, though of course, the main character is always the last to discover things. He's not completely lacking in intuition, though.)

Which brings me to the next scenario: two friends who really appreciate one another might not want to jeopardise the relationship as it is by having a fling. If the sex goes badly, the whole friendship might go to pot. Is it worth that? For a man in love with a girl he's best friends with, and in the "friend zone," it's often preferable to stay there than lose out on being close to her. Because while it might be best in the long run to break away from her and find a girl who really is going to fulfil him in all aspects of life, including sex, if you really love a person, you often want them to be happy more than be happy yourself. So you are willing to sacrifice your own happiness in serving them. And of course, if you are holding out for the chance of getting together with your friend it doesn't mean you can't have sex elsewhere - you can have all the flings you want, you just can't actually settle down.

Finally, however, often two friends realise that what they have - a friendship - is not worth having an unfulfilled life for. Eventually it becomes worth the risk to go for a relationship rather than hold off. If you have been friends for many years, the friendship may have become strong enough that it will survive a disastrous fling, and at least, then both will know and one or both can get on with their life.

Of course, it could be a marriage of convenience formed out of resignation. The spark of lust, and all the fireworks, is just not going to happen. So the slow smoulder of friendship and love is better, and the love grows slowly but surely, heating up and eventually reaching the 451-Fahrenheit when it spontaneously ignites into flame.

Whichever way it happens, these people are lucky in that everyone always seems to say they want their spouse to be their best friend, too!

The skylark whistled high above us. We sat and listened to it. I thought about Sinéad, lying there in quiet sobriety. She was great to be with, to talk to or not; just walking, sitting, whatever, without speaking. I could have sat there for hours, days.

But I had always known this about her. Why was I looking at her differently now? Was I even looking at her differently? Probably, I decided. Was this then not just the age-old I-wish-I’d-done-her-just-one-time thing? It was hard to say. Certainly, I’d thought this about Sinéad on other occasions. But the only times I’d really had any emotion about it, or it had worried me unnecessarily, was when several drinks were taken. Also more often than not, it was when there were few, if any, other alternatives. Despicable, I know, but I never said I wasn’t despicable.

However, this was a new feeling. I wished I could have made love to her there, lying in the sun. Or if not there, then at least at some point in the future. I wanted to make her see me, the real me, which despite our close friendship, she had never seen. Not just the side which can only be seen by lovers, but the intimate side that even lovers did not always see, a part usually only disclosed to confidantes. And while Sinéad and I were confidantes, we did not discuss sex very much. I not only wanted to show Sinéad this side of me, but also the side of me that no one had ever seen in its completeness. I didn’t want to show the complete me - an impossibility for in truth, no one can ever know the whole person. I didn’t even want to show her as much as it is possible for another to know. I just wanted to show as much as I had ever shown anyone; the sum of all the small fragments I had shown separate people, and maybe a little more.

I had never wanted to reveal any of myself to Ana. I was not very enthusiastic about her arrival the following day. Although I knew it would be, to be frank, a sex-fest, a part of me wished she wasn’t coming. I could have then directed my attention towards Sinéad.

But that would be pointless, and I knew it. I didn’t think my feelings would last long, and was sure they were the sum of circumstances and sexual frustration, and they would disappear even faster if anything actually happened. In any case, the chances of anything actually happening were almost nil. Sinéad just didn’t do that shit. Simple as that.
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Five Days on Ballyboy Beach / eBook Available From


  1. Thanks for having me on the Plain today, Pat - always nice to drop by your blog.

    1. Delighted to have you back again, David. You're always welcome to shove up to the fire here. Congrats on your wonderful new release!

  2. Great article, Dave! (Thanks for hosting him, Pat!)

    I wrote a novelette a while back called Moondance (set on Dingle) about two people who were friends in their social circle and had really never considered each other as a mate. Or seemingly so. Inwardly, HE had other plans, but she never dated anyone in their circle so things weren't difficult after a breakup, so she just thought he was being weird ;-) The story was written to prove that you just never know where you'll me 'the one.' It may be cliche, but as you said, cliche is usually written in truth, but a truth that keeps repeating itself.

    I think a lot, as you say, is about hormones. But I think there's also something about the power of suggestion. One friend suggesting to another, "Mary, why don't you hook up with John, he's single." Mary hadn't really thought of John 'that way', but now that Sue pointed out John, hmm, he IS kinda cute. Then Mary keeps watching John, makes excuses to talk with him, and suddenly she's smitten, especially if he likes her back.

    What are your thoughts on the power of suggestion? Do you think they're hormone-driven or simply suddenly noticing something that's in plain sight?

    1. Always a pleasure to host Tirgearr authors, Kemberlee. I know your question is for David, but it's an interesting question. David's observation about biological wavelengths is intriguing, and there's something to it. The power of suggestion might indeed cause a person's hormones/wavelengths to change. However, unless those hormones are also being chemically altered, the power of suggestion is the primary catalyst, IMHO. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. I think the power of suggestion is just the mind, minus hormones. For example, my favorite color has been purple since I was very young. Then my sister and I were talking about favorite colors. She said hers is 1970s orange. I relate that to a pumpkiny orange. Well, suddenly, I liked it too! My sister had suggested another color that could be a favorite and my brain switched on and decided it was a favorite.

      Just wondering David's take on it if it was applied to a mate, as I outlined. Chemicals being switched on my suggestion alone, or simply something the person never considered before. And if so, would the suggestion trigger hormones for the person to use to try attracting the new object of desire?

      It's all beginning to sound like Schrodinger's cat, isn't it?! ;-)

  3. I'll tell you a story - since nobody else is listening, it won't matter - about suggestion. A long time ago, on a holiday - vacation! - at the Giant's Causeway, there were a group of my mates and a group of Spanish students. There were some girls among the students; some very pretty.... I was looking at a couple of these and I overheard a good friend of mine say, "God, she's gorgeous," about a whole different person. I looked at her again, and realised that my mate was very effing right, and I decided that I'd try get in ahead of him (I'm a bad man, but all's fair in L&W, as Derek would say!).
    I felt obliged to invite him to our wedding.

    1. THAT is an awesome story, David :-) Now we know why you write romance.

  4. Thanks. But I'm not as romantic as I seem... ;-)