Heather O’Neill

Cover of Lullabies for little criminalsHeather O’Neill is a Canadian short story writer, poet and journalist whose first novel, Lullabies for little criminals, has attracted a lot of attention. The book won Canada’s Hugh MacLennan Prize for Best Novel 2007 and was shortlisted for a number of other literary prizes in Canada and elsewhere (and that includes the 2008 Orange Prize which she has a good chance of winning).

The novel is about Baby, a twelve year old girl who lives in the red light district of Montreal with her drug addict father. As a child she is still able to take the sordid realities of her world and transform them into something fascinating, even beautiful. However, turning 13 has her future becoming more dangerous as she attracts the attention of the neighbourhood pimp.

The novel isn’t autobiographical but O’Neill says it arose from what she observed at an earlier age I use all the details that I encountered in my writing now. They are like my huge reserves for character and drama.