Bill O'Brien was born in Princeton in July of 1943. The son of a miner, he went to school at Tsolum on Vancouver Island, at John Oliver High in Vancouver and at Como Lake High before attending Everett College on a football scholarship. He also played defensive end for the UBC Thunderbirds.

His 1969 novel, Summer of the Black Sun (November House, 1969), features a protagonist named Billy Louper in the Green Lawn Mental Institution (Riverview Mental Hospital) narrating a memoir about high school athletics, his medical student days and his incarceration. O'Brien had a varied work background before becoming a Vancouver realtor.

David Evanier, founder of Event magazine, recalled in 2015, "I think November House came about partly because of the inspiration of one remarkable first novel that Prism published, Summer of the Black Sun, by Bill T. O'Brien. That was a remarkable discovery written by a young man who was, as I remember, driving a truck at the time. I later published a wonderful story by him in Event. Jacob (Jake) Zilber at UBC worked closely with Bill in developing that novel. I think you would find that Summer of the Black Sun" holds up beautifully today. I still teach it."

[BCBW 2015] "Fiction"