5 minutes with Eimear McBride

Winner of Baileys Prize 2014

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Eimear McBride is the name on the entire literary world’s tongue – due to scooping the Bailey’s Prize last night (as well as the casual £30,000 award money).

Undoubtedly the underdog in this year’s shortlisted novels, gained widespread acclaim for its controversially experimental writing style.

We grabbed five minutes with the award-winning author to chat about last night’s success…

ELLE: Congratulations! How does it feel to have won?

EM: Fantastic – it was a big surprise. No one expected me to win and I certainly didn’t expect to win.

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ELLE: After 9 years of trying to get the novel published, this must feel like a longtime coming…

EM: Yes, a very long time coming – I’m still very surprised it’s here!

ELLE: When creating the novel was the writing style non-negotiable, and did you ever want to forfeit this aspect (especially with the struggle to get the novel published)?

EM: No, to me the style and story was so intrinsic that I couldn’t imagine one working without the other. So in a way, this was more frustrating and difficult - because while publishers admired it, they wouldn’t take a chance on it, and there wasn’t much I could do about it without going against the whole point of the exercise.

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ELLE: In your acceptance speech you commented how being a woman is ‘to be fearless too’. Would you be able to talk a little more about this?

EM: Unfortunately, I think being a woman requires a huge amount of fearlessness. There is a huge pressure that must be contended with, and there’s a huge hatred of women.

ELLE: Would you say this ties in with the novel?

EM: In the novel, those pressures come from the Catholic Church. While the role of the church has been diminished hugely in Ireland nowadays, in some ways, I think a lot of the media has decided that legally while they’re not allowed to discriminate against women, they’re going to make women’s lives extremely difficult. There’s constant criticism of their appearance, of their work, of their interests. And also there's this culture of trying to shame women out of being angry about the way they are treated.

ELLE: What’s next for you? Is there another novel in the works?

EM: Well there’s been another novel in the works for about 5 years and I had really planned to be finished this year, but everything that’s happened with Girl has taken over - so it’s slightly postponed until next year. It’s going to be called The Lesser Bohemians.

ELLE: Will it be in the same sort of writing style?

EM: Yeah I think it’s not entirely divorced - it’s like an evolution of that style.

Read an extract of A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing here

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