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New City of Books Podcast featuring Louise O’Neill


“The number 63 has come up for me time and time again in very strange ways,” says writer Louise O’Neill, who won the crime fiction trophy at the 2020 Irish Book Awards.

“I have put it in each of my books. In Only Ever Yours, the first book, Frieda is number 630 and in Almost Love Sarah, the character that is having an affair with a much older man – they always meet in a hotel room and it’s number 63.”

And its connection with her latest novel, After the Silence? She tells the City of Books podcast how she stumbled across a collection of Emily Bronte’s poetry, marked 63 in a series, and the pages fell open at a poem with the line: “I dream of moor, and misty hill.” Keen to incorporate it into her novel, she named the artists’ retreat in her book Misty Hill.

One of her favourite reads is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which Louise read in St John o’ Gods while suffering from anorexia: “It was such an important book for me in terms of understanding my behaviour, in particular the addictive element.

“It’s both a brilliant novel and personally very important novel to me in terms of my recovery.” The kind and decent male lead, Luke Costello, became her “ideal man”.

“For years I was so drawn to men who didn’t treat me well and who were actually quite cruel to me in lots of ways,” says Louise. But she realised that kindness mattered most of all. Now she’s happy with her partner, Virgin Media reporter Richard Chambers.

“He’s my number one champion, he’s endlessly encouraging and just believes in me. He just really wants me to succeed and be my best self,” says Louise.

:: After the Silence by Louise O’Neill is published by Riverrun, a Quercus imprint. More information here:

Listen to Louise O’Neill interviewed by Martina Devlin for City of Books


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