Healthy habits

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - The Shape I’m In -

BEST-SELL­ING au­thor Louise O’Neill burst onto the lit­er­ary scene three years ago with her provoca­tive novel Ask­ing For It, which helped to drive a new wave of fem­i­nism in­tent on end­ing the sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of women. Fans who snap up her books and fol­low her un­flinch­ing on­line posts now have the op­por­tu­nity to meet the au­thor in per­son. The Clon­akilty na­tive is sched­uled to speak at chil­dren’s and young adults’ pro­gramme at the West Cork Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val, which runs from July 13 to 20. For de­tails see: www.west­cork­lit­er­aryfes­ti­ What shape are you in? It’s been a hec­tic time for me, with two nov­els ( Al­most Love and The Sur­face Breaks) be­ing re­leased in the space of two months, and the stage adap­ta­tion of Ask­ing For It fast ap­proach­ing. I feel that I am very much at my edge now. I’m tired and much less fo­cused that I would usu­ally be. How­ever I’m re­mind­ing my­self to ac­cept that this is only a tem­po­rary state of be­ing and it won’t last for­ever. What are your health­i­est eat­ing habits? I’m lucky be­cause I nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to­wards healthy food. I love sal­ads and fish and fruit, so I eat plenty of those. I avoid caf­feine ex­cept for a small cup of green tea in the morn­ing. What are your guilti­est plea­sures? I love choco­late. I rarely drink and I’ve never smoked so I feel as if I’m al­lowed one vice, surely. I have a par­tic­u­lar affin­ity for choco­late-cov­ered tof­fees that I buy by the bag load in Paddy Meade’s newsagents, Clon­akilty. What would keep you awake at night? I have had bouts of acute in­som­nia in the past and I can usu­ally at­tribute it to stress, or when I’m work­ing too hard and my mind is rac­ing. When that hap­pens, I turn my phone off at 8pm and use Lush’s Sleepy body lo­tion be­fore bed. How do you re­lax? I take a 24-hour de­tox from my phone ev­ery six weeks. I like to walk on Inchy­doney beach if I’m feel­ing stressed, that puts ev­ery­thing into per­spec­tive. Yoga and med­i­ta­tion help as well. Who would you in­vite to your dream din­ner party? Bey­oncé. That’s it. No one else. That way I can charm her into adopt­ing me. Her chil­dren might not be pleased but I’m sure they’ll come to love me in time. What’s your favourite smell? I en­joy go­ing into book­shops — there is noth­ing bet­ter than the smell of new books. I re­luc­tantly bough a Kin­dle three years ago be­cause I was trav­el­ling so much with work and I couldn’t deny the con­ve­nience of an e-reader. But I take no joy in it — it feels so ster­ile com­pared to the de­li­cious smell of the phys­i­cal copy in my hands. What would you like to change about your ap­pear­ance? Ev­ery­thing and noth­ing. I think we all have things about our ap­pear­ance that we don’t like but I’ve been work­ing hard over the last cou­ple of years to prac­tice rad­i­cal ac­cep­tance when it comes to body im­age. I take good care of my­self and I’m not ad­verse to skin treat­ments and pro­fes­sional makeup, etc, but in gen­eral I try and tell my­self that this is just the way I look. When is the last time you cried? Watch­ing a video that my boyfriend sent from Dublin Cas­tle af­ter the ref­er­en­dum re­sults had been of­fi­cially an­nounced. The crowd was chant­ing “Savita, Savita, Savita”, and it broke my heart to think of her and how fright­ened she must have been be­fore she died. What traits do you least like in oth­ers? I find it off-putting when peo­ple com­plain all the time. It gets to a point where you have to make a de­ci­sion — do I want to be dis­sat­is­fied for my en­tire life or do I want to be grate­ful for what­ever I ac­tu­ally have? I’m also baf­fled by peo­ple who spend their time on so­cial me­dia, pick­ing fights and hurl­ing abuse at strangers. What traits do you least like about your­self? I can be crit­i­cal, par­tic­u­larly of my­self, and that’s some­thing I have to watch. It’s a part of my on­go­ing bat­tle with per­fec­tion­ism — I tend to be very hard on my­self if I don’t live up to the ex­act­ing stan­dards I’ve cre­ated for my­self. Do you pray? I pray ev­ery day. I re­jected religion at a rel­a­tively young age be­cause I found the Church’s stance on many so­cial is­sues dif­fi­cult to stom­ach, and I was left bereft by that loss. I turned to new age spir­i­tu­al­ity which gave me huge com­fort. What would cheer up your day? I’m easy to cheer up. A chat with my par­ents, a hug from my god­son, an amus­ing voice mes­sage from my boyfriend. It’s the small things that mat­ter to me the most.

“There’s noth­ing bet­terthan the smell of new books”

Pic­ture: Moya Nolan

WRITE STUFF: Louise O’Neill has re­leased two nov­els in re­cent months.

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