6 Questions with Louise O'Neill

We asked Louise O'Neill, author of Only Ever Yours, six questions about  being a writer and her favourite books!

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If you've not yet read Only Ever Yours, why not read our apprentice's review - click HERE to give it a read.

1) What was your inspiration for writing this book?
"The inspiration for Only Ever Yours came from a number of sources. My own education at an all-girls convent school played a part as did my poor body image arising from years of battling with an eating disorder. 

I had the actual idea for the book while I was working at ELLE magazine in New York. On a very cold January day in Brooklyn, I was waiting in a Starbucks for the subway to start running again. I was reading one of those terrible gossip magazines that had red circles of shame drawn around the body parts of female celebrities deemed to be somehow unacceptable.

All of a sudden, a vision flared in my mind. It was of a young girl in a bikini, standing in front of a classroom of other girls while a teacher in long black robes drew circles around her ‘defective’ body parts in red marker. The other girls were pounding their fists on their desks, shouting FAT, FAT, FAT. And I thought to myself – a world in which women are bred for their beauty."

2. What were the main challenges that you faced when writing this book?
"There were a few. I had decided to take a year out to write this novel without any guarantee that it would ever be published which was a risk, obviously. 

Another challenge I faced was my belief that this story was really important and my constant fear that I wouldn't be able to do it justice."

3.  As a child or teenager, did you want to be a writer and if so, is it as you expected? 
"I didn't want to be a writer when I was younger. I wanted to be an actress. There are similarities - you need the ability to assume someone else's voice, to completely immerse yourself in a fictional character.

By the time I was 22, I knew that writing was something that I wanted to do in the future but I could never seem to find the time. That old excuse ;)"

4. Who are the writers that have influenced you?
"There are so many. One author who I think continually inspires me is John McGahern. His use of language is deceptively simple, he pares back his writing to the bare minimum and yet his work is still so powerful. Amongst Women is one of my favourite novels."

5. What's in your reading pile currently?
"My TBR pile is always enormous. The books on my bedside locker are The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale, Digging to America by Anne Tyler,  The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward, Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, Half Wild by Sally Green, The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, and Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks."

6. What is your all time favourite book?
"IMPOSSIBLE. I refuse to answer this, I'm afraid."

Only Ever Yours is available in paperback for £7.99. If you'd like to order a copy of Only Ever Yours or of any of the books mentioned by Louise O'Neill, click HERE.