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This blog was featured on 09/24/2019
An Exclusive Interview with Emma Donoghue
Written by
She Writes
September 2019
Written by
She Writes
September 2019

This month we have been thrilled to have bestselling author Emma Donoghue as our guest editor. We've gotten a look at her latest novel, Akin, and now we're thrilled to see inside her process. Check out this interview on how her kids have influenced her writing, how she chooses her projects and what she learned adapting Room for film. 

Describe your writing routine.

-Get the kids out of the house and then write about them. Joke! But only sort of. Having a son and daughter (now 15 and 12) has limited my writing time a bit, but given me so much more to write about; kids have cropped up in just about everything I’ve written in the past decade and a half, from the nail-biting (Room, The Wonder) to the comic (The Lotterys) and now the rueful odd-couple story Akin. My writing routine is pretty routine: open MacBook Air, swat at boring tasks first (life or career ones) so I can get to the fun ones (actual writing) faster. I work on one or two projects at a time but more like eight over the course of a year, and I spend a few hours a day walking/typing on a treadmill desk in the hopes of staying alive longer.

What was the first/worst job you ever had?

I not only hated being a chambermaid in Wildwood, New Jersey in the summer of 1987 but I was humiliatingly sacked for ‘poor hygiene standards’.

Share your biggest writing hurdle.

Fear of getting bored or boring my reader by repeating myself. This drives me to try new times and places for my settings, new audiences (e.g. middle grade), new genres (e.g. film).

Did you feel any pressure writing Akin after the massive success of Room?

Nope. The pressures are internal, and the same as the day I began writing at the age of seven: how can I pick the right words?

Were there surprises in the movie adaptation process?

It’s a whole new world for me - a rather closed industry with mysterious jargon for everything. I so enjoyed writing the screenplay for Room with guidance from our wonderful director Lenny Abrahamson, and my biggest surprise was that a scene can sometimes end up even more powerful if you leave the dialogue out.

As a multi-genre author, how do you go about choosing your next project? 

I shouldn’t complain, but really, I have too many ideas. They line up like urgent spectres shouting ‘me, me!’ until I give in and beckon one to the head of the queue.

What are the best ways women writers can support each other?

Don’t let the biases of the book industry make you take men’s books more seriously than women’s, when it comes to reviewing/prizes etc. Check you’re including women whenever you’re asked for a list of book/film/play recommendations. Don’t ask a writer who happens to be a mother, ‘But who’s looking after your kids while you’re on tour?’ Try to avoid asking a writer who’s a woman any question that starts ‘As a woman...'

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