Louise O’Neill is bursting onto the author scene this year with her debut novel, Only Ever Yours. You only have to glance at the cover to feel a little creeped out but don’t let that hold you back. With rave reviews and book bloggers talking, this is certainly one of the most anticipated and well regarded books of 2014. I sat down with Louise to talk books and life as a debut author…
Q. Firstly, thank you for taking time out of your crazy life. How have things changed since Only Ever Yours was unleashed into the world?
A. Thank you for having me! It’s been very surreal since Only Ever Yours was released. When I was writing the book I refused to allow anyone else to read it so I had absolutely no idea if it was anyway decent, or if it was the worst piece of writing imaginable. It was just me and my laptop, day in and day out, trying to do the story justice because I felt it was an important one. To have the book published and to see people connecting to it has been a very emotional experience.
Q. For those who have been hiding in the cupboard under the stairs, can you tell us a little bit about Only Ever Yours?
A. Only Ever Yours is set in a world in which women are no longer able to give birth to female babies. Faced with the extinction of the human race a decision is made to ‘create’ women, to breed them for their beauty, and then to train them in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. It is ostensibly a dystopian story but is really more concerned with friendship, love, and the contemporary obsession our society seems to have with the female body.
Q. As a debut author, it must be scary coming onto the Literature scene but by the looks of Twitter, you’ve had a lot of support. How have you found your new life as a published author?
A. It’s been very hectic as there have been a lot of publicity requests but incredibly exciting as well. I’m just trying to go with the flow for as long as it lasts, and then get back to editing my second book. Ultimately, the work itself is what is important.
Q. If you could tell ANY male celebrity that he is Only Ever Yours, who would it be and why?
A. Good question! I think it would have to be a member of One Direction, I guess. One for every day of the week and then Harry and Zayn again on the weekends.
Q. Despite being a debut author, I bet you’re full of tips for budding writers out there. But what is the best tip another author has given you? Failing that, what is your best tip? Sod that, tell us both…
A. David Mitchell told me that as soon as I had finished one book, to start on the next one. I think he was trying to tell me not to get caught up in any of drama that might accompany the launch of your book, and to remember why I became a writer in the first place – because I wanted to tell a story.
My best tip for writers is to forget about writing a novel initially, it will just seem overwhelming. Break it down into manageable chunks. 500-1000 words a day a few times a week is a good place to start. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up.
Q. Finally, how has social media and book bloggers in particular changed your writing career?
A. Social media is an amazing publicity tool. I’ve become one of those really gross people who retweets compliments and I’m constantly updating my author Facebook page. I want people to feel engaged with the book and social media is great for that.
Bloggers are wonderful for generating a buzz on twitter, and there is a wonderful sense of community from bloggers online. They are great for shouting loudly about a particular book that they feel passionate about, and that passion can be infectious.