Louise O’Neill: I deliberately live away from the 'Dublin media elite'

Louise O’Neill, author of the critically acclaimed 'Asking For It', thinks "we're going to be very surprised" at how people will vote in the upcoming abortion referendum.

Ms O'Neill also talked about her new book, 'Almost Love', her work on Repeal the Eighth, her thoughts on the Dublin/country divide and why she chooses to live in Cork.

The Irish Examiner contributor, who is the cover star of the April issue of Irish Country Magazine, lives in her hometown of Clonakilty.

She said deciding not to move to the capital was a conscious decision of hers.

She said: “First of all, it's a very deliberate decision on my behalf to live here and away from the ‘Dublin media elite’, because I find it's a ... how do I put this? Everyone is so nice in Dublin.

"That's the thing is that everyone is so nice on an individual level, but I know when I'm at those events, it is slightly like you're benchmarking, and you know, you're wondering whose doing this, and how are these people doing?

"And I'm just not someone who enjoys that level of competition or comparison and, for me, it's just easier to go have lovely conversations with people and then get out of it because it's not real.”

During her time living in Dublin and attending Trinity, Louise said she did feel the Dublin divide with the rest of the country.

She said: “When I moved up to Dublin, first of all, when I went to university in Trinity, I think it really became very apparent there that there was this sort of divide that Dublin people sort of thought of Ireland as Dublin, and then everywhere is like, ‘Oh, down the country. You're from down the country’.

"And there was this slight dismissal of me. There was surprise if I mentioned that my parents were into the theatre or just this whole, ‘do they have a theatre down in the country?

"So I always found that really interesting, and this kind of idea of that all of the intelligent, bright, ambitious, cultured people.

"Either they're born in Dublin or they gravitate towards Dublin, and then everyone else is just down in the country digging their potatoes, and it can be really frustrating.”

The Irish Examiner columnist also thinks there will be a surprise in the way people vote in the abortion referendum.

Louise said: “Of course, there will be people in rural Ireland who are going to be difficult, I think, when it comes to persuading or when it ... Persuading is the wrong word.

"I think when it comes to the referendum, or when it comes to repeal, of course, there are going to be people in rural Ireland who are going to be very anti-choice, and who are going vote that way. But there are also going to be people who live in Dublin who are going to be voting that way.”

“I think we're going to be very surprised. I'm going to a canvassing workshop for repeal in Cork, and I think it's a slightly scary prospect going to people's doors and having these conversations, but I actually think that most people are really respectful.”

With her new book, Almost Love, in shops in a matter of weeks, Louise went on to discuss women and flaws.

She said: “I think with Sarah, obviously the main character in Almost Love, is that she can sort of view between being monstrously selfish and then just devastatingly vulnerable, and I think that is very human.

"And I also think what I find really interesting is that I actually think the criticism around characters of being unlikeable says a lot more about the people who are criticizing than the characters themselves, because I think there's real gendered expectations around how women are supposed to behave. And I think I'm constantly trying to challenge that.

"I think it can be a little bit frustrating then when you've written a book, and you've tried to make a character as real and compelling as possible if people are like, ‘Oh, she's a bit of a bitch, though, isn't she?’ And I don't know.

"I think there's a lack of nuance maybe the way people are just perceiving that, as well. And you know the male anti-hero is very well established. People are used to a flawed male character, I think that men are allowed that complexity in their makeup, and women aren't, and that's not just in fiction or in movies or in T.V. I think that's just in life, as well.”

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