Home burning books Burning Books…on Paper—Aislinn O’Loughlin

Burning Books…on Paper—Aislinn O’Loughlin

Aislinn O’Loughlin, author of Big Bad Me (Little Island), talks all things bookish for Burning Books…on Paper, the companion series to our popular podcast.

Turn down the pages, or bookmark?

Book mark! By which I mean literally anything that slides in between two pages to mark my place: the wrapper off a straw, a pen, another book …I’ve caught my nine-year-old using the headboard to her bed as a bookmark. She didn’t get that from nowhere!

Writing in the margins, or sacred pages?

Sacred pages. Much as I love the idea of finding a book someone else has written in, and getting an insight into their brain, I’d never do it myself. Reminds me too much of studying.

Do you lend a book without expecting it to be returned?

Not unless I have a duplicate! But my friends are all good at returning books, I’ve never had to chase anyone down – yet, anyway. 

Do you keep all your books, or do you have a regular cull?

My last cull was before moving back from Canada, five years ago, and it broke my heart. I’m a bit more ruthless with the books on my kid’s shelves – but even that’s hard. I’d keep everything if I could.

Digital or physical copy?

prefer physical books but unfortunately my aversion to culling means I need to buy at least some digital so we’re not just sleeping on piles of books. 

Do you finish every book you start? 

I try! That said, I’m a total mood reader – so if I start a book and realise I’m not in the right headspace I’ll leave it aside and come back later. There are always some waiting for me. 

Are you one book at a time, or a polyamorous reader?

One at a time, for sure! I can’t even switch to a new book if I misplace my current one, I’ll still be too emotionally invested in the old one. The new book winds up feeling like a ‘rebound read’ instead of something I’m enjoying on its own merit. 

A book that makes you laugh

Either Caroline O’Donoghue’s All Our Hidden Gifts series, or anything by Ciara Smyth! Both writers have such a gift for balancing comedy with serious issues, and their characters jump off the page. I could re-read their books forever.   

A book you associate with a particular life event      

Mort, by Terry Pratchett. My husband and I spent our entire first date talking about our shared love of the Discworld books, especially the Death books! I wound up directing the play of Mort in our university drama society and he played the voice of Death. So, Mort is my “falling in love” book.  

One of your own books that you’d save

Big Bad Me. No contest. It’s the book of my heart! I feel like those characters have seen me through a lot over the years, I’d have to be pretty callous to leave them behind. 

A book you are reading now

I’m rereading The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch – it’s so good! An amazing feminist time-loop story dealing with toxic masculinity, grief, bullying and consent which somehow managed not to be too heavy or preachy for teens to enjoy. I love it. 

You can save one non-book item: what is it? 

My laptop! Not just for all the unfinished manuscripts, I have so many family photos and videos backed up on it too.