Born and raised in Sydney, Australia to a Polish-American father and Australian mother, OJ Modjeska (Obelia Jane Modjeska) had her first publication at the age of five, when a two paragraph story about a little girl who died of surprise upon seeing the stars of the night sky for the first time appeared in the school newsletter. “Morbid but wonderful,” declared her teacher. “Obelia, you were born to write!”
As OJ entered her teens, she was the classic alienated teenager in black clothing. Rebellious but studious, she loved English, history and art, coming top of her class, but consistently flunked maths and simply never turned up for sport and phys ed. By then it was the late eighties, and OJ had discovered her favourite ways to blow off steam after studying… disaster, apocalypse and horror movies! Also an avid reader, OJ developed an enormous collection of books, many of which are now kept in storage units and garages because they can’t find a place in her small home. She fell in love with true crime, and in particular the works of Ann Rule, the first prolific master of the art of turning factual crime stories into page-turning narratives that read like suspense novels.
OJ graduated from high school and subsequently enrolled at the University of Sydney, where she would become a fixture for the next decade and a half, studying philosophy, history, political science and fine arts. She spent her evenings drinking stout and lime in Newtown, Sydney’s bohemian district adjoining the University of Sydney, and her weekends typing up essays on a first generation Mac Apple tower computer.
But life as a perpetual student was never going to pay the bills, so OJ started her tenure in the rat race…and from fish shops to cake decorating and call centres, no job was beneath her, as long as it paid, and allowed her to continue to pursue her love for learning, reading and writing. Eventually OJ completed her PhD in American History and a Graduate Diploma in Criminology, and was awarded the JH Mc Clemens Memorial Prize for her scholarship in criminology. By this time, after several years working a day job in college admin, she had entered the world of publishing, and was hired on as a legal editor with a major international publisher, where she sharpened her skills in legal and criminal research, proofreading, formatting and many other skills that would ultimately prove very useful.
Having spent all those years as a scholar, OJ ultimately concluded that it was words and stories that interested her, rather than the requirements of academic disciplines. The stories embedded in history and criminology were fascinating, but they could be so much more, if not delivered in such a dry and scientific way. Academia was not for her; what she really loved to do was write, but there was no doubt after all her learning that truth is indeed, far stranger than fiction.
Having dabbled in short stories for years, her writing projects finally assumed a more serious tenor, and she had stumbled into her true niche, where her studies in history and criminology, and her love of riveting and shocking true disaster and crime stories all came together. By 2017, OJ had completed her first full-length books, “Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise”, about the most deadly airplane accident in history, the Tenerife disaster, and “Murder by Increments” the two-part series about the Hillside Stranglers who plagued Los Angeles in the late seventies.
She set about finding a commercial publisher, and got a few nibbles, but was disappointed by the slowness of the process, the miniscule royalties and the lack of creative control should she go that path. Instead she decided to the pursue independent publishing, completing all stages of book production by herself, including writing, editing, formatting and layout, cover design and marketing. “Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise” was published on Amazon in March 2017 to surprising success, eventually garnering 80+ glowing reviews and hitting number #2 in its category. It continues to be a top-seller today. “Murder by Increments” comprising book #1, “A City Owned”, and book #2, “Killing Cousins” followed in August 2018 and maintain top 100 positions in their categories since their release.
OJ was delighted at her success, but the challenge of balancing all the tasks required of an authorpreneur with her day job began to wear thin, and in late 2018 she was once again looking at commercial publication options. She joined Creativia/Next Chapter in December 2018, after being referred by her personal friend, psychic and author Jacqueline Evans, and was immediately impressed by their progressive, hybrid publishing model.
Like all authors, OJ loves a good review, but every now and then she receives one that means the world; after all what every writer truly seeks is recognition of what exactly it was they were trying to achieve with their work, and confirmation that they have succeeded in bring their vision to realisation:
Many authors attempt to write about well-known crimes and atrocities in a way that claims to offer a fresh, or new, or more interesting take on the story. They usually fail in that regard, even if their book is quite good on its own merits. However, this author actually succeeds in providing her readers with a more complete, a more factual, and even a more emotionally impactful look at the crimes described in this very important book. Important simply because while this crime story is one that most of the adult American public has heard about in some way, we have never really heard or learned the deeper truths within the public information. Ms. Modjeska offers us much more than the grisly details, she also provides us with keys to gaining a better, more thorough understanding of not just how, but why these murders happened.
OJ has recently completed a new work of true crime about the Happy Land nightclub fire which claimed 87 lives in the Bronx in 1990. It will be published in late 2019. She is also currently working on a new two-part disaster series, Fallen Birds, about the Times Beach dioxin disaster and flood that wiped a town of the map in Missouri, U.S. in the early 1980s. It will be released in early 2020.
She lives in Katoomba in the majestic and magical Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, west of Sydney.
If you would like to know more about OJ and her books, head to her website at http://www.estoire.co , the home of amazing true stories on the web. Estoire is where OJ collects and curates potential topics for future writings, and runs them by her readers. It also features monthly listings of ebook bargains and reviews on the most exciting new books in her favourite genres true crime, disaster and narrative history.