News Irish News

Wednesday 18 July 2018

'Asking For It' book plot 'more important' after rape trial

Louise O’Neill, centre, with Meadhbh McHugh, right, who adapted the book ‘Asking For It’ for the stage in collaboration with Annabelle Comyn, left, as they gather with the cast and creative team. Photo: Mark Steadman
Louise O’Neill, centre, with Meadhbh McHugh, right, who adapted the book ‘Asking For It’ for the stage in collaboration with Annabelle Comyn, left, as they gather with the cast and creative team. Photo: Mark Steadman
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The plot of Louise O'Neill's 2015 novel 'Asking For It' is "more important" in the wake of the Ulster rugby rape case, the author has said.

Earlier this year, rugby players Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (25) were found unanimously not guilty of rape after a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

The case prompted national debate and resulted in national school curriculums being adapted to include classes on consent.

Ms O'Neill's award-winning second novel was published far in advance of the case.

Based in the fictional Cork town of Ballinatoom, it deals with issues of assault, rape, consensual sex, and victim blaming.

Ms O'Neill's book has been adapted for the stage and will première at the Everyman Theatre in Cork as part of its Midsummer Festival, before playing at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

"The book was written in 2015 and in a way it feels more contemporary now, and more important now in some ways," Ms O'Neill said. "The story, not necessarily the book."

During the course of the Ulster trial, Ms O'Neill refrained from commenting on any aspect of the case.

"There were people tweeting me... I was always slightly wary because I didn't want it to seem [as if] I was trying to capitalise on that.

"I always thought these conversations were better started as a result of art - be that a play or a piece of fiction or a stage adaptation - rather than off the back of a woman's lived experience."

When the verdict of the case was handed down, Ms O'Neill contacted the producers adapting her book.

"I emailed them saying thank you for re-interpreting this work because I think now more than ever that [conversation] needs to happen," she said.

'Asking For It' won Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and spent 52 weeks in the Irish top 10 bestsellers.

Ms O'Neill realised soon after the book was published that it had taken on a life of its own.

"I always thought it was a separate entity but I believed in the conversation it caused," she explained. "I am happy this play will continue that conversation and give it momentum."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News