Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The Pappa Files: 4th of July

Jul 2, 2024

Pappa Date: July 1, 2024. Somewhere in Winchester, Virginia.

I am Pappa. There are many pappas. But I am unique. Trust me. I am an anti-terrorism consultant by profession. An author of numerous novels by devotion. A Harley Davidson pilot, man about dogs (and now cats), and an adventurer. I am a father to five and Pappa to eight and counting.

As the 4th of July draws near, that means a couple days off from the real job and time to spend editing and writing. Truth is, I love the fourth for a lot of reasons, many of which is the celebration itself—as sappy as that sounds. But, in this day and age, political climate, and what seems like endless rancor across the country, it means even more to me. I only wish others would embrace it a little more, too.

Still, there is also the great food and family and one of my favorite pastimes—movies. Yep, I get sappy and nostalgic around the 4th. So, after I edit until my brain bleeds, write until I’ve exhausted my latest plots over a few chapters, and finished chef’ing and serving family and friends, it’ll be me time.

What’s in store? I think I’ll drag out some of the classics I love. Open a bottle of good wine. Sit back buried under 300lbs of dogs and cats and enjoy the flicks until I fall asleep each night.

Here’s what I’ve got planned:

INDEPENDENCE DAY — this very expensive version of H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds, is always a great film no matter what you think of Will Smith these days. Think of it this way, Will trained to bitch-slap Chris Rock by bitch-slapping aliens. And let’s face it, the aliens came, we kicked their ass, and they left. Sort of like the British back in the day. Except now, I bet the Brits are happy they lost that war!

WAR OF THE WORLDS—the original with Gene Berry.  

THE GREEN BERETS—because some of my pals are SF and they are the most excellent people I’ve ever worked with. And, John Wayne is as American Independence as anything. 

THE GREAT ESCAPE—one of the all-time great war films.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL—because the aliens came, could conquer, and left.

FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE—I watched this flick during security police/combat school when it came out. It brings back great memories.

THE PACIFIC & BAND OF BROTHERS—absolutely the best mini-series about WWII of all time. I’ve seen them 6-7 times. Never gets old.

WHERE EAGLES DARE—another great WWII action adventure. One of the best.  

Okay, that’s the short list. I might make it through half of these but it’s the target.

Later this summer, I’ll be doing the annual horror/Syfy night with daughter and grands. That list is much, much longer!

Enjoy your 4th. Think about why you’re off work and eating good. Then, lay back and enjoy some film for nostalgia if nothing else.

Above all, be safe.


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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