Louise Nealon is a writer from Co Kildare. In 2017, she won the Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition and was the recipient of the Francis Ledwidge Creative Writing Award. This month she publishes her first novel, Snowflake, a tale of 'growing up and leaving home, only to find that you've taken it with you'.

We asked Louise for her choice cultural picks...


I'm going to preface everything I say here by making the following admission: I’m afraid that in answering these questions, I will confirm my worst suspicions that I am deeply and irreversibly uncool.

FILM

The last film I watched was Promising Young Woman. I watched it with my Dad, which was enlightening for us both. He thought the storyline was far-fetched, and I thought it was a gorgeously wrought parody of a massive societal issue. It opened up a conversation between us that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. My favourite films of all time include Pocahontas and The Lion King. I am also in the habit of re-watching films. I went to the cinema to see Greta Gerwig’s Little Women so many times that my family had to stage an intervention.

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MUSIC

I have been slow to grow out of my teenage tastes. The most played album on my MP3 player on the school bus was Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks. We Get On is a comedy master class in the form of a song. Nowadays, the most-played songs on my Spotify are from an Irish band called Kyoto Love Hotel. Their song, Machine gets me out of bed in the morning. Also, the soundtrack to Pocahontas is also an absolute banger.

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BOOK

The book that has made the biggest impact on me this year is a psychology book called Choice Theory, by William Glasser. It has provided me with a new vocabulary to navigate and make sense of my inner and outer worlds. Another book I adore is David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish, which explores the link between meditation and creativity. The last book I physically hugged after reading was Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words. Conversations with Malka Marom. It was funny, warm and brilliant company.

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PLAY

The Blue Raincoat Theatre Company’s production of Alice in Wonderland in the Project Arts Centre a few years ago absolutely blew me away. Alice was my favourite childhood bedtime story, in pop-up book form. I never really warmed to the grown-up book or the movie adaptions. But this production captured the Alice of my childhood. The Mock Turtle singing Beautiful Soup was both hilarious and sublime. My hands hurt from clapping.

Blue Raincoat's Alice In Wonderland

TV

I’d like to petition to bring back Quiz Zone on RTE Two. It really had everything – the glamour of the boiler suits, the race to the finish, the smarts to get the team over the line. I also love watching the American reality TV series Survivor on TG4.

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GIG

I would love to see Lisa O’Neill live. A Dylan Moran gig would be great too. In late August, I am hoping to see the ballet Swan Lake performed by candlelight in Smock Alley Theatre. Fingers crossed it goes ahead.

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ART

I watched a film called Finding Vivian Maier a few years ago, and that story always stuck with me. A guy called John Maloof purchased a box of negatives at an auction and when he got a proper look at the photos, it became clear that he had stumbled upon a talent. His documentary film explores the life of the person who took these photos - a nanny who wandered the streets with a Rolleiflex and didn’t show her work to anyone.

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RADIO

I am a longtime Desert Island Discs enthusiast. It has introduced me to the life and work of many great people, like Anthony Storr, Maggie Aderin-Pocock and David Nott. On the other hand, some people that I thought I knew, like Ricky Gervais, David Beckham and Seamus Heaney surprised me. I wouldn’t have suspected that Heaney would bring yellow Doc Martens to the island as his luxury item. There is a reason why it the programme has endured for so long – the structure of it brings out people’s humanity. Listening to different guests and hosts from the archives has had an enormous impact on my life.

TECH

Letters of Note is a website curated by Shaun Ussher. It is a museum of correspondence from well-known people throughout history. There is a gorgeous letter from John Steinbeck writing to his lovesick son. I’ve taken a quote from that letter and use it as writing advice: "Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."

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THE NEXT BIG THING

I am waiting for someone to choreograph a contemporary ballet to the music of Eminem.

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Snowflake by Louise Nealon is out now.