Thursday, 3 July 2014

Only Ever Yours Blog Tour: A Q&A with Louise O'Neill

Firstly, Happy Book Birthday Louise O'Neill, Only Ever Yours is released today and I can honestly say it is one of my favourites of 2014 so far. It's one of those books everyone should read, it's brutally honest and will have you thinking for a while, as it did with me. You can find my review of it here. Thanks to Quercus I also got a chance to do a Q&A with Louise herself, so on with the  show!

     Only Ever Yours
      Publication Date: July 3rd 2014        
      Publisher: Quercus  
   In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…
1)    Did religion have an effect on the way women are perceived in Only Ever Yours?

      That’s interesting, that’s the second time someone has asked me this question this week. I didn’t consciously decide that religion would be a factor in the way women are perceived in Only Ever Yours, I felt that the world in which the novel is set was much more likely to have been created because our patriarchal society posits that men are far more inherently valuable than women. However, I was raised a Catholic, and attended a convent primary and secondary school. I was extremely devout when I was a child, and I guess it was only with hindsight that I began to think there was something rather strange about being indoctrinated in a religion that presents the ‘ideal woman’ as a mother who has never had sex.

2)    While the world in Only Ever Yours is fictional, pieces and facts from both idealism and science fiction wise are relevant to today's culture, do you think that that world could someday be our reality?

      I hope not! I tried to exaggerate certain aspects of our current culture that I found problematic, if only to highlight how strange they are. Women have become almost immune to casual sexism because it’s something that we’ve experience time and time again, and I wanted to try and point out that actually, no, it’s not OK to be objectified because of how you look, or to be judged in a certain way because of your gender.
3)    If Only Ever Yours was optioned (it should be) for film, who would you cast?

      This is such an easy one! I had this idea that all the girls in the book had been designed to look like a prototype and the prototypes were all models and actresses from ‘before.’ So freida is Freida Pinto, isabel is Isabel Lucas, megan is Megan Fox etc. I had Adrian Grenier in mind for Darwin. I’d like to point out that none of the characters are based on real people, just their physical appearance! 
4)    What was the first scene you imagined/inspired Only Ever Yours?

     The very first scene that came to me was the scene in chapter six, where christy is forced to stand in front of the class in Comparison Studies while chastity-ruth circles her ‘problem areas’ with a red pen. That scene came to me like a vision, I could almost smell the marker and hear the girls chanting ‘fat, fat, fat, fat.’ I was reading a lot of terrible tabloid magazines at the time, which were full of photos of celebrities with the red circle of shame highlighting any cellulite and weight gain, so I’m pretty certain that’s where the inspiration came from.
5)    And finally, name one thing you want your readers to come away with after reading Only Ever Yours.

     There are so many things – but I’ll just choose one. Women don’t need to compete with each other. Stop comparing yourself to other people, it will only make you miserable. As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one more alive who is youer than you.”



Thank you Louise, for taking the time to answer my questions. Now you guys, go buy Only Ever Yours, you won't regret it!





About the Author:

Louise O'Neill was born in west Cork in 1985. She studied English at Trinity College Dublin and has worked for the senior Style Director of American Elle magazine. While in New York, she also worked as an assistant stylist on a number of high-profile as a freelance journalist for a variety of Irish national newspapers and magazines, covering feminist issues, fashion and pop culture. Her website is and you can find her on Twitter @oneilllo.

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