Episode 6

Violence, isolation and a changing Ireland with Louise O'Neill

Ireland is a land known for its literary exports and our guest this week is certainly adding to the country’s reputation for impeccable fiction. Louise O'Neill is from West Cork and has been described as a feminist powerhouse. Her first two novels, Only Ever Yours and Asking For It, were written for young adults but tackled very tough topics including sexual assault and consent. Her books have won multiple awards and been bestsellers on the Irish fiction charts. Her latest novel and her second adult fiction, After the Silence, was published on September 3 and, at the time of recording just a week later, was number 2 on the Irish bestseller charts. 

Just a warning before listening: This episode deals with discussions of domestic violence, and may be triggering for some listenings. If you need support: 

  • In the UK, contact the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
  • In Australia, contact The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line 1800 737 732
  • In Ireland, reach out to SafeIreland

Interview starts at 16 minutes. 

Mini-book club: The Switch by Beth O'Leary

We loved this delightful and uplifting story about a woman and her grandmother switching lives. 

In this interview, we chat about:

  • What genre After the Silence falls into (and why it’s her favourite novel so far)
  • Portraying emotional abuse, coercive control, and violent relationships in fiction and how Louise explored the shame associated with that
  • The influence of the West Cork podcast on After the Silence
  • The outsider perspective on an tiny Irish community
  • How Louise nailed the Aussie slang in After the Silence
  • Louise’s Granny Murphy, who the book is dedicated to and who passed away in 2019
  • The wildness of Ireland and how that translated to the novel
  • The political and social history of Ireland and how that has changed since Louise was a child
  • Louise’s decision to include Irish in After the Silence and her favourite Irish words (with a Fleabag reference)

Books & other things mentioned:

  • Freaky Friday
  • The Holiday
  • West Cork (Audible podcast)
  • Are You There God? It’s me, Ellen by Ellen Coyne (coming October 30, 2020)

Follow Louise @oneilllou. After the Silence is available now in the UK and Australia. 

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

*Note: Michelle received a PR copy of After the Silence from Riverrun Books.

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.