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