Sally Rooney answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |August 16, 2018

Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin. Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was one of the most popular debuts of 2017. Rooney was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’ and was the winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second novel, Normal People, has been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.



sally rooney1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, in the west of Ireland. I was also schooled there, in the local girls’ secondary school, St. Joseph’s. Then I went to college in Dublin.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I think that I vaguely wanted to be an actress at twelve. At age eighteen, as far as I can remember, my primary ambition was to have a boyfriend who was in a band. I’m not thirty yet but I’ll get back to you.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At that age I thought it was very important to be intelligent and well-read. I don’t think it’s remotely important anymore.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I think JD Salinger’s novella Franny & Zooey had a great effect on me as a writer. Also Van Morrison’s album Astral Weeks and the 1961 Robert Rossen film The Hustler.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I don’t think any other artistic avenues were meaningfully open to me. Writing is the only thing I am even slightly good at.

sally rooney6. Please tell us about your latest novel, Normal People

It’s a novel following the relationship between two characters over several years, beginning in their final year of school and finishing in their final year of college. The subject of the book is not so much the individual characters but the relationships between them.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I find that question very hard to answer. I only really write to amuse myself, so if anyone can take anything whatsoever away from reading my work then it’s very much a bonus.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Well, admiring a person’s work is not the same thing as admiring a person. There are many, many books I admire and relatively few writers. I admire my friend Thomas Morris, the Welsh short story writer, and I admire his stories too.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I think my goal is always the same—I just want to write the next thing and make it good.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Talk less and listen more. And if necessary, write less and read more.

Sally Rooney, thank you for playing.

Normal Peopleby Sally Rooney

Normal People

by Sally Rooney

The feverishly anticipated second novel from the young author of 2017's most acclaimed debut Conversations with Friends.

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us - blazingly - about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney's second novel breathes fiction with new life.

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