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Normal People: Seeing TV set 'surreal' for Rooney

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Dreamed up: Author Sally Rooney ‘doesn’t want to open herself up to too much of what is said about the show’. Photo: Tony Gavin

Dreamed up: Author Sally Rooney ‘doesn’t want to open herself up to too much of what is said about the show’. Photo: Tony Gavin

Dreamed up: Author Sally Rooney ‘doesn’t want to open herself up to too much of what is said about the show’. Photo: Tony Gavin

'Normal People' novelist Sally Rooney has revealed the bizarre experience of walking around the TV set she had dreamed up in her head.

The literary sensation has also said she intends to avoid reviews of the series adapted from her award-winning novel which is creating major buzz around the world.

The 29-year-old Mayo author told the 'Hollywood Reporter' she felt a certain degree of pressure in turning the blockbuster novel into a TV script but tries to distance herself from the hype.

She said: "To be honest, I don't really want to open myself to too much about what's being said about the show.

"I felt the same when the book came out. I didn't want to read reviews. I was really lucky. It was all so positive, almost all.

"So it wasn't that I was trying to hide my head in the sand and not read bad stuff about myself.

"It was just that I feel that being so exposed to how my work is received just isn't good for me as a human being or as a writer."

She said she found walking on to the Irish set of 'Normal People' a surreal experience.

"I was very much kept involved and I was on set, and it's almost indescribably strange," she said. "Things that I had in my head are now happening on the screen, a physical house has been designed that looks like the house that I imagined with the pictures on the walls, and people are moving through it who are playing the characters who I invented in my head.

"You're walking past the food trucks and the hair and makeup and it's just like, 'Oh, my God'. In a sense, all this work has been generated by an idea that I had in my apartment when I was working part-time in a restaurant a couple of years ago."

A first-time screenwriter, Rooney said it was more challenging than she imagined trying to turn her novel into a TV show.

Troubled

The coming-of-age novels track two very bright, troubled Irish teenagers who forge an intense romance in secondary school which continues into the corridors of Trinity College.

"Sitting down to write the scripts was like, 'Oh, my God, these characters never say what they mean.' Half of the book is like, 'She said this, but what she actually was thinking was [this].'"

In the novel, Marianne, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, is a rich outcast while Connell, played by Paul Mescal, is a popular GAA star whose single mother is the cleaner for Marianne's family.

She said: "Connell is so taciturn, borderline sullen. He never says anything.

"He certainly doesn't show much tender affection toward this character who he clearly is in love with.

"And then Marianne can be so spiky, and also doesn't have many friends.

"So it's not that she's having these intimate conversations where she says, 'My feelings about Connell are X, Y and Z,' it's all internal."

Irish Independent