Louise spent her childhood with her nose in a book. Giving up her ambition to be an actress, she wanted to write, but felt it must be the best book ever written.
“I was afraid to start a book in case I didn’t achieve that.”
Travelling abroad each summer in college, Louise then worked in New York as an intern for Elle Magazine.
“The people were amazing, but I felt I was pretending in the fashion world. I had anorexia as a teenager, and felt broken inside. I had thought about image issues for such a long time, and think I was doing fashion to look cool. I found it stressful.”
The idea for the novel came in New York: “I wanted to write about the pressures on young women to adhere to a certain aesthetic standard.”
Returning to Ireland, Louise took a year out to write. “I felt it was now or never,” she says. “I had to make it work.”
Date/place of birth: February 24, 1985/Clonakilty.
Education: Convent in Clonakilty. Trinity College Dublin, English. DIT. Fashion buying.
Home: Living back at home in Clonakilty.
Family: Mother, father, and an elder sister.
The Day Job: Full-time writer, and some freelance journalism.
Interests: Yoga; acting in amateur theatre.
Favourite Writers: Donna Tartt, Margaret Attwood, Curtis Sittenfeld and Paul Murray.
Second Novel: My first draft is done. It’s not dystopian.
Top Writing Tip: Break it up into sections of 1,000 words. It is less daunting.
Only Ever Yours; Quercus, €7.49; Kindle, €5.21
Best friends Frieda and Isobel are soon to leave school. There’s a lot at stake. The 16-year-olds need to remain perfect in order to be selected as wives to powerful men. Their dread is that they will be relegated to life as a concubine. Fighting for her future, must Fieda betray the friend she has always loved? Only Ever Yours has been described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Mean Girls.
“The story was so important to me, and it’s humbling when people connect to it.”
The Verdict: O’Neill has talent to burn; this dystopian YA debut is both compelling and frightening.