O’Neill hints at a screen version of her murder mystery novel

September 30th, 2020 5:45 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Louise talks to Siobhán Cronin about her new book, her long-distance relationship and recovery from anorexia.

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THE new book by Clonakilty author Louise O’Neill, set on a West Cork fictional island, may make it to the screen.

The writer recently hinted at the possibility of a TV series or film of the book, After the Silence, which has been receiving rave reviews since it was published just two weeks ago.

O’Neill’s award-winning writing includes Asking for It, a novel which explored rape culture amongst Irish teens, which got a second life as a hugely successful stage show of the same name, starring Paul Mescal of Normal People fame.

In a recent long-ranging interview on the Southern Star Coronavirus Podcast, Ms O’Neill admitted that the idea for her latest book was triggered by the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case.

She said she was only 11 at the time of the murder and it left a lasting impression on her then, and indeed ever since.

‘When you grow up in areas like this  … we never locked our doors. My sister and I were given enormous freedom. It [Sophie’s murder] felt as if the darkness from the outside world was encroaching upon ours. I could not stop thinking about it,’ she said, referring to the idea of the suspect being a ‘Sasanach’ (British) coming into a close-knit community that had no history of violent crime. Louise has definitely drawn some other details from the ‘Sophie’ case as her novel tells the story of the violent death of Nessa Crowley – a beautiful young West Cork woman who is bludgeoned to death with a rock.

In Louise’s story, the main suspect is also English, years later there has still been no conviction, two documentary makers arrive to tell the ‘backstory’, and there is even a suspicious bonfire mentioned.

The story is set on the Irish-speaking island of ‘Inishrún’ off West Cork when the murder takes place during a winter storm, so no boats or ferries can access the island.

As a result, the murder must have been carried out by someone who was on the island that night. It turns out that a wealthy family hosted a glitzy birthday party that very night and the body was found outside their house.

While Louise denies the island is Cape Clear, she admits it is ‘similar’ and the ferry even leaves from Baltimore, but her creation is an amalgam of various Irish islands.

She also admits that as a result of researching Irish words and language she has a new-found love of the language and has signed up for Irish lessons!

In her interview, now available on the Southern Star website and various platforms, Louise also talks about the difficulty of a long-distance relationship during Covid, as her partner is the Dublin-based Virgin Media news journalist Richard Chambers.

Louise is in recovery from anorexia for the past three years, and speaks at length about her struggle with the debilitating disease and how she has managed to overcome it in recent years.

She also speaks about her close relationship with her late granny, who she has dedicated the book to, and who passed away just under two years ago.

To watch or listen to the interview, CLICK HERE

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