Ep. #122: Heather O’Neill

Heather O’Neill is a talented and provocative novelist based in Montreal. Her first book was the celebrated Lullabies for Little Criminals, which won Canada Reads in 2007 and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel is The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, which was published by HarperCollins Canada this past April and tells the compelling story of a pair of directionless fraternal twins in Montreal, Noushcka and Nicolas Tremblay, who live in the shadow of their has-been folk-singer of a neglectful father and bare certain emotional scars as a result. Young Quebecois coming of age in 1995, they are separatists on one hand, but unwitting sovereignists on the other. Their creator is bringing their story with her as a participating author at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, where she’ll read on Sunday September 14. Here, Heather and I discuss how to pronounce Nicolas, why it’s difficult to describe what The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is about, the magic in the mundane, having an amicable break-up with a book you wrote, separatism, separating, and needing people you need to get away from, establishing boundaries to become your own person, why we’re reading this world from Noushcka’s perspective, what this book might say about the separatism/sovereignty debate, class divides, promiscuous has-been folk-singer daddy issues, embittered former child stars, Raphael the sexy bad boy, fame might be a drag, people who think authors are their characters, how Heather relates to her characters, how Quebec today relates to Quebec of the mid-1990s, how a teacher’s encouragement drew Heather to write a story about shrinking machines and a cockroach, needing to write, delving into creative non-fiction and how it intertwines with a novel like The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, the political folk music of Montreal that’s conjured in this book via Etienne Tremblay, Heather’s thoughts on film treatments of her works, Wes Anderson and The Royal Tenenbaums, her forthcoming book of short stories Dear Piglet out this spring, writing more than one story at a time, what Heather will be doing at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, @lethal_heroine, weird turns, and the end.

Related links: harpercollins.ca twitter.com/lethal_heroine vishkhanna.com

heatheroneill

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