Emma Donoghue on gossiping with the Bard and ridiculously productive procrastination

Fresh off her Oscar nomination for the screenplay of Room, Emma Donoghue returns to her literary roots with a new novel. The Wonder is a wonderfully gothic story about a girl who eats nothing. It's a finalist for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Below, Donoghue takes CBC Books' Magic 8 Q&A, revealing the legendary playwright she'd love to have dinner with. 

Donoghue will be speaking at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 28 and 29.


1. Timothy Taylor asks, "Does the novel still have a job in contemporary culture?"
Of course. And no one should specify what that job should be: it doesn't have to be limited to commenting on contemporary culture, for instance.

2. Alan Bradley asks, "Does the act of writing ever have a physical effect on you? If so, describe it."
Occasionally a hammering heart.

3. Tomson Highway asks, "If you were a musician, which instrument would you play? That is to say, which instrument would you choose to tell your story with?"
Piano, for the wide range.

4. Jordan Tannahill asks, "What is the most ridiculous thing you found yourself doing out of distraction/procrastination instead of writing?"
Duolingo. Not that it's ridiculous to try to improve my French, but it's ridiculous how addictive those little highs are when you get through a round without a mistake...

5. Jalal Barzanji asks, "How many times do you revise your manuscript before you submit it for publishing?"
At least twice - and at least one more time before it gets published.

6. Andrew Pyper asks, "Have you ever been surprised - deeply and honestly shocked - by the violence of a reader's reaction to your work, whether positive or negative?"
Oh yes - shaken by the strength of their identification with my characters and their insistence on the characters' reality.

7. Lori Lansens asks, "If you could have dinner with one of your literary heroes, living or dead, who would it be? Where would you eat? What, besides books, would you talk about?"
Shakespeare, in a barge on the Thames, and we'd talk about his complicated love life.

8. Jane Urquhart asks, "If you were forced at gunpoint to give up either reading or writing, which would it be?"
Oh Jane, what a brutal question! Reading. But there'd be moments when I'd hate the writing for having made me choose it over the reading.

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