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Heather ONeill
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Heather O'Neill is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and essayist. Born and raised in Montreal, she lives there today.
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This is a gallery of work specially created for #ThinAir2022. Spend time with writers you love, and discover some new favourites! Ceci est une galerie de travaux spécialement créée pour #ThinAir2022. Passez du temps avec des écrivains que vous aimez et découvrez de nouveaux favoris!

Heather O'Neill is a novelist, short story writer and essayist. Her novels include Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Lonely Hearts Hotel, and When We Lost Our Heads. She has won numerous prizes for her books, including Canada Reads, the Danuta Gleed Award and the Hugh Maclennan Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General Award, the Orange Prize, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She has also been awarded the Gold Prize for essay writing at the National Magazine Awards, and she has contributed to numerous publications including The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, and The Globe and Mail. Born and raised in Montreal, she lives there today.

Interview / Entrevue

When I was a child, I went to visit my parent who was living in Provincetown. I found some their books that were erotic and queer and experimental. I was reading them secretly and got caught me. My parent said I could read them all I liked. It was a wonderful moment. I did not ever need to be ashamed of my choices in literature. And there were books that transgressed conventional morality and opened me up to freer ways of thinking. Oh great, I thought, my perversion and intelligence can go hand in hand.

I was at the Berlin Wall this year and there was a placard that read “Escape is the mother of invention” which I loved.

I write in bed. My bed ends up looking like a very messy desk with notebooks and novels and pages and electronics all around me. You know how when you are little and you sometimes pretend you are lost at sea on your bed. I feel that way when I am surrounded by all my work tools and books on my bed. Off I go, out to sea every day, looking up to the ceiling for birds who will signal that land is near.

Oh, I revise all the times I did something embarrassing or inappropriate or hurtful. No matter how minor. I used to think these events would disappear with time. But although you forget and forgive slights from others, the crappy things you do will haunt you to the grave. Curious.

I think it would be fun to have a talk show. That I can invite interesting thinkers on to discuss ideas. I would get myself some excellent suits to wear and a Late Night O’Neill Band.

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