Interview: Anne-Marie O'Connor, author, 'Everyone's Got a Bono Story'* - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-07-2004, 07:38 AM   #1
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Interview: Anne-Marie O'Connor, author, 'Everyone's Got a Bono Story'*

By Rabab Ahmed

The author of "Everyone’s Got A Bono Story" (Tivoli), Anne-Marie O’Connor, is lucky enough to have a real Bono story of her own--she has actually met the man, if one considers pouring his gravy for him to be a meeting. Then again, that would be a situation I personally would be thrilled to find myself in. In any event, this encounter with the star helped her develop the idea for her fun and light-hearted book.

From interviewing her, it became apparent that O’Connor drew upon her life, and those around her, to create the characters in her book, and painted their lives in a similar fashion, with bright colors. Her quirky sense of humor and determination to portray her characters in the most realistic manner possible combined to create such an entertaining aura for the book.

O’Connor, a graduate of Manchester University, was born in Bradford of Yorkshire, England, and has travelled from all over the world. She lived in Dublin in 2000 and began writing "Everyone’s Got A Bono Story" upon her return to Manchester, where she now resides and is working on her second novel.

Where did the idea of the book come from?

I was working and living in Dublin at the time that I came up with the idea. Whilst there, I worked, one evening, as a waitress at a function at Dublin castle. When I went to the table I was serving Bono was sitting at it. I was completely over excited and ran into the kitchen, delivering a verbal onslaught to the chefs along the lines of, "Oh my God! There’s Bono out there! In the flesh!" to which a couple of eyebrows were raised and shoulders shrugged. They weren’t very impressed to say the least (or at least pretended not to be). This, however, didn’t stop them regaling me with tales of how they had all come across him at one time or another before now. So the idea for the title at least, came from a group of chefs at Dublin castle.

Has there been a reaction to the book from Bono himself? If not, what do you think his reaction might be?

I’m not sure if he’s read it, but it’s a light comedy so I don’t know if it’s necessarily his thing, even though he is the star attraction. I met Paul McGuinness though, he was very nice and asked how the book was doing. I ran off star struck before thinking to ask if he’d read it.

In putting together this book, I know that you have come across a number of Bono stories yourself. What are some of the most interesting Bono stories you've heard?

One girl, a big Bono fan, went to see U2 in Manchester, queued all day outside the MEN arena and when Bono finally stepped out a car to say hi to the people waiting, the crowd surged forward and she found herself pinned up against a railing. When she looked down she realised that her boob had popped out. But because of the way she was standing she couldn’t get to it to protect her modesty so she had to leave it there. How embarrassing!

I also heard a story from a lady who rang into a radio show I was interviewed on in Ireland, which really made me laugh. She had been in her local pub in a small town outside of Dublin and had seen Bono in the corner with none other than Robert De Niro. She went over to talk to the two and while Bono was very polite to her, she found Robert De Niro to be monosyllabic and slightly standoffish; she was pretty indignant about it. She then went on to say that she then called her son and told him to bring down his U2 CDs and De Niro DVDs to be signed. It wasn’t so much her story as the fact that she wasn’t at all surprised that they were there in her little local in the first place, and that Robert De Niro upon trying to enjoy a quiet pint was less that enthused at be being badgered by her.

What has been the most surprising thing, story or otherwise that you have heard or learned about Bono while putting this book together?

To be honest, when I started writing this Bono was just the lead singer of U2 to me. Even though the book is not directly about Bono, but a light-hearted quest to meet him, I began to become more and more interested in Bono and his work outside of the band. I became more aware of what an energetic and vocal individual he is. He uses his status as the lead singer of the world’s biggest band to get behind the doors of power and once he’s there he is unafraid to ask questions that have led to visible change. He appears to be a true statesmen; unmotivated by political success, but by an innate sense of what is right.

In your opinion, what would you say about Bono in particular draws people to him, and what do you think is unique about his relationship with his fans?

Since writing this book I’ve heard a lot of Bono stories and I can honestly say that, time and time again, the stories are of a friendly man who has the time of day for his fans. He seems to have a genuine warmth and approachability that most superstars don’t have and seems to embrace being a public persona and realises that you can’t pick and choose the days that you’re famous.

Do you have a real Bono story of your own? If not, do you hope to meet him, or do you not have much of an affinity towards him or U2, like your protagonist Aoife Collins?

As I said earlier, I served him his dinner at Dublin castle, (well, poured his gravy I couldn’t be trusted to silver serve, Bono might have finished up with peas entangled into his hair). And (honest to God, this is going to sound like a typical Bono Story) I swear I saw him as I went for a run on Killiney Beach the other week. There was a man sitting against the wall writing on a note pad who was the spit of Bono, but I was too scared to go and say anything to him. What would I say? “Hi I wrote that book, 'Everyone’s Got a Bono Story.'" I couldn’t face the chance that he’d say, “Who?” or worse still, “Go away, I’m writing”. I didn’t want to run the risk of being the only person with a negative Bono story--the embarrassment would be too much!

What would your ideal Bono story be?

I haven’t got one really. I just like the silly ones where people have become a little bit star-struck and end up trying to say something to him but tripping up and falling over or saying the wrong thing.

What is the most common place you hear people talking about Bono at?

Since this books come out, anywhere. I get people coming up to me to tell me their stories, they’re usually embarrassed and say things like “I bet you’re sick of hearing Bono stories, but…” But I’m not, I think they’re great, the sillier the better. Prior to the book coming out the most common place to hear a Bono story for me was Killiney or Dalkey, just because he lives around there.

When people tell you Bono stories, are they usually always positive? What is one of the worst ones you've heard so far?

Nearly always positive. The ones that aren’t positive usually say more about the person telling the story, than Bono. One person posted a rant on the website about meeting Bono at a function and using the encounter, from what I can gather, to be rude to him. I’d rather not say the full story though, I thought it was pitiful really. Other than that, there was the story of a friend of a family friend who had a pint of beer poured on her by Bono as she asked for his autograph for about the tenth time that month. He helped her mop it up though. Serves her right for acting like a stalker!

Is it true that Bono has been known to randomly walk in to cafes/bars in Temple Bar and sit by himself, perusing a newspaper or the like?

I don’t know about Temple Bar but he certainly acts like an ordinary person in his hometown. He certainly doesn’t have an entourage or get “his people” to cordon off the upstairs of pub so that he can have a quiet pint.

Which one of the characters you write about is your favorite and why?

Bridie, Aoife’s mother. She has looked after other people all her life and now, for the first time is thinking about herself.

Throughout the book, I kept wondering, why the crazy parents? All the parents you mentioned, whether mother or father, were a bit loopy, to say the least. Why did you choose to make them as such?

I just wanted to look at how the generation gap between people in their 20s in Ireland and their parents is probably more marked than another other previous generation. Anyway, I think loopy parents are interesting, there’s nothing to struggle against and less to grow up and become independent for if your parents are serious and staid. (Mum, I don’t think you’re loopy if you’re reading this. Then again if you’re reading a U2 Web site, you’re definitely harbouring some secrets!)

About the trip to Dublin that's mentioned at the end of the book, is that contest still on? If so, can anyone compete for it? Where did that idea come from?

The competition at the end of the book to win a weekend in Dublin is open to anyone that’s not related to me, I think! It’s for the best Bono story and the closing date is at the end of August. To enter submit your Bono story on

Our thanks to Anne-Marie O’Connor for taking time out for this interview.

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Old 05-09-2004, 12:09 AM   #2
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*wonders if he can enter a fictious story*

Very good interview
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