Blood Red Turns Dollar Green
The author with Mick Foley (above)
“There’s only two great wrestling novels out there. And Paul O’Brien has written them both.” – WWE Hall of Famer, Mick Foley.
Featuring an intoxicating mix of drama, comedy, story-telling and the primal need for combat, professional wrestling seems tailor-made for the literary universe. The action which takes place both inside the ring and behind the curtain is ripe for exploration in written word, such is the very nature of the industry. Indeed, the lives of these men and women who call themselves professional wrestlers are often more interesting away from the cameras, such is the intrigue which surrounds the machinations of the entire industry.
Releasing his first wrestling novel only last year, Paul O’Brien has nonetheless been writing from his home in Wexford, on the South-East of Ireland, for over 15 years. Writing more than a dozen plays which have been professionally produced around his homeland, O’Brien is a lifelong wrestling fan, who explains to 1Wrestling.com his motivation for releasing “Blood Red Turns Dollar Green”; a crime novel set in 1970′s New York City during the territorial system of wrestling prevalent at the time.
“I think it started rolling around in my head when I heard a Jim Ross story (from the book, WWE Unscripted) of how he was at a NWA Convention in the bathroom stall, and he heard the other territory bosses outside talking about killing Vince McMahon”, O’Brien stated. “He said he had to quietly lift his feet from the floor as they didn’t know he was in there. That got me thinking of the structure of the territories and how similar they were to a classic organised crime layout. They all had bosses of the secret club that ran on their own turf. They all swore to protect the con and the profits were all cash money. They had a pecking order and to get in you had to be really in!”.
“I let all that settle for a few months and then began the structure, characters and plot lines. From really early on I could see that this was going to be ‘epic’ in terms of size, scale and timeframe – I was sure it was a trilogy.”
Fitting in nicely with those words, the second book in the series, “Vol. 2” has been released this year, within hours becoming the #1 wrestling novel in both the US and the United Kingdom. It’s a longtime ambition fulfilled for O’Brien, who understands the tricky nature of pitching such a unique series of books to even the most hardcore of wrestling fans.
“The response has been huge and generous! The first book was a hard sell, even to wrestling fans. It’s a what?A crime novel set in the wrestling world? But the second one has been a joy. I always say to people who ask what they might expect – if you like Soprano’s or Boardwalk Empire this should be for you. Mick Foley calls it, ‘The Godfather with Suplexes’, and who I am to argue with the Hardcore Legend?”
Indeed, WWE Hall of Famer, multi-time World Champion, best-selling author and all-round pro wrestling hero, Mick Foley has been more than positive in his appraisal of O’Brien’s work. Describing the initial book as a “must-read for any wrestling fan, and a should-read for any adventurous fan of crime-fiction”, the current stand-up comedy star is equally as enthused by the continuation of the series.
“Last year I read and loved Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, but with Vol. 2, Paul has done it again”, Foley remarked. “But this time, he’s done it even better. With sharply drawn characters that any wrestling fan will feel like they know, and non-fans will wish they did, O’Brien’s second journey into the world of 1970′s territorial wrestling depends less on wrestling action, and more on the surreal scenarios that his cast of wrestling misfits – noble and seedy, loyal and cut-throat, confident and desperate – provide him. Give it a try, and see if the name Shane “Sugarstick” Montrose doesn’t stay with you for a while!”.
Even with the success of his books, O’Brien is still, at heart, a wrestling fan. Having followed the industry he loves, with as much passion as he has towards writing, for over 25 years, the author – himself a massive enthusiast of Foley’s work – realises the weight and credibility of such feedback.
“(Mick’s praise) meant everything. He was the one I wanted in terms of endorsement, if I could get it. One of the best of all time, been through the territory system that I write about – and a New York Times Bestselling author to boot. And as an aside he is the only wrestler I’ve ever wanted to meet. He was my favourite during his career, so much so that when I started my own family we called our dog Cactus Jack Barney Ryan O’Brien!”.
Unique, thrilling reads, both books in the “Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” series have been avidly received, even outside of the wrestling bubble. Spinetingler Magazine, who are dedicated to spreading the word of talented writers, named the first iteration as one of their ‘Best Crime Fiction’ novels of last year, with the follow-up set to receive similar acclaim.
The tagline on the cover of volume one may state that, “America was ‘organised’ long before the Sicilians arrived”, giving reference to the gang-land tinges found through the series, but it seems O’Brien’s writing career has long been in a similar state of running, setting a standard of excellence both for wrestling-related novels and crime fiction.
For more information on Paul O’Brien’s books and career, please visit www.paulobrien.info. Both novels can be purchased via Amaz