Eason Exclusive: Louise O'Neill introduces her new novel, Idol

Riveting, compulsive and bold, IDOL interrogates our relationship with our heroes and explores the world of online influencers, asking how well we can ever really know those whose carefully curated profiles we follow online. And it asks us to consider how two memories of the same event can differ, and how effortlessly we choose which stories to believe.

When people hear that I’ve written a novel about a character like Samantha Miller – a yoga-toned vegan with a lifestyle brand, a woman who travels all over the world giving motivational speeches to her devoted fans – they assume I must be sceptical of the wellness industry. That in writing Idol, I was secretly rolling my eyes at the Instagram gurus promising health, wealth, and happiness but only if you buy their latest book/online course/gemstone encrusted candle. But the truth is, I love all things woo-woo and I have done for years. I read Louise L Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, when I was fifteen, and it was my first introduction to the world of New Age spirituality. For a teenage girl who felt increasingly alienated from the Catholic Church, it gave me great comfort. I have remained a devotee – meditation, crystals, and Tarot cards are as automatic a part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth –and in many ways, that’s why I believe I was perfectly placed to write Idol. But during the pandemic, I was intrigued to see the growing intersection between New Age thinkers and conspiracy theorists, a phenomenon which became known as ‘conspirituality’. As I watched many leaders in this space reveal their true selves, I knew I wanted to write about a self-help guru and her inevitable fall from grace. Samantha Miller might be beautiful, rich, and powerful, but how will she react when a friend from her past returns, threatening to destroy the empire Samantha has built for herself? When her life begins to unravel, what lengths will Samantha go to save herself?

Idol is my sixth novel and it’s been both challenging and rewarding to write. I’m so excited to see what readers will think of Samantha Miller and the world of Idol.