Sunday 26 January 2020

Write side with novelist Louise O'Neill


Author Louise O'Neill. Photo: David Conachy
Author Louise O'Neill. Photo: David Conachy
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Novelist Louise O'Neill on Disney movies and obsessive love, changing attitudes, and being useless after lunch.

Why did you write your most recent novel Almost Love?

It's about obsessive love. A remarkable number of woman I have talked to feel that they have had occasions where they were degraded by love.

How does that happen?

Women are conditioned to believe that a relationship is their most important goal. It starts with Disney movies, and then they go on to romantic comedies.

Do you think your novel Asking for It helped to change attitudes?

I hope it caused a discussion. People found it safe to have a discussion about consent and rape arising out of a novel.

So, have things really changed?

I think we are at a pivotal moment. Women are really tired of venting about these issues for such a long time.

Who encouraged you to write?

I worked for a fashion magazine in New York. When I came home and said I wanted to write a novel, it was my parents who encouraged me. They always believed in me - and bought me a laptop.

Was it hard getting your first novel published?

No. I sent a manuscript to 25 agents and 16 were interested.

Can you write anytime, anywhere?

I like a routine writing at home, and start very early in the morning. After lunchtime, I am useless.

If you weren't a writer what would you be?

An actress or a therapist.

Is writing a form of therapy for yourself?

Sometimes I think it makes me feel worse. All my novels have been difficult to write emotionally. I'd love to write something cheerful.

Which books would you take to a desert island?

The Ariel collection of poems by Sylvia Plath and Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes.

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