Writer Emma Donoghue’s travel highlights

Emma Donoghue is a Canadian-Irish novelist, playwright and screenwriter best known for her book and film Room, which received four Oscar nominations in 2016. She currently lives in Paris with her French partner and children, but travels extensively to research her novels (her fifteenth is out next summer) and to promote her books and films. Her upcoming film adaptation of her 2017 novel The wonderwill star Florence Pugh and will be released on Netflix on November 16th.

I traveled last from our current home in Paris to London.

The best thing about being there was the gala premiere of my new film The wonder at the BFI London Film Festival, with our star Florence Pugh wearing an extraordinary pink plumage.

European premiere of
Florence Pugh at the London premiere of Emma’s film

I am planning to travel next my hometown of Dublin for the Irish premiere of The wonder. Of course, while I’m there, I need to meet up with my many siblings and family, stroll along the seafront, and eat a scone with dark chocolate chips and raspberry jam at my favorite Dublin cafe, The Queen of Tarts.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I enjoy the planning aspect of travel so much Sometimes I outline detailed itineraries for trips that fail. And my love would accuse me of over-scheduling because if there’s a spare hour I’ll cram a museum in. I don’t understand the concept of downtime.

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TOP LEFT: France’s Mediterranean coast off the Spanish border, BOTTOM LEFT: Emma in the Luxembourg Gardens, RIGHT: Emma in County Kerry looking towards the Skellig Islands © Emma Donoghue

Trains excite me because they are fast but so much less polluting than planes or cars, and you can move around and have expansive views from the windows.

Regarding downloads on the go, I always keep a few books on my phone – I prefer paper, but e-books give me the peace of mind of having dozens of hours of reading with me (and a lighted screen). I never got into the podcast habit, but I usually downloaded a good TV series; I save fat dramas to watch with my mistress, so alone it’s going to be weird (Girl5Eva, Schott’s Creek, The detectorists) or the soapy water Grey’s anatomy It’s a habit I can’t break.

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The Queen of Tarts Cafe Dublin, home of the dark chocolate chip cookie with raspberry jam © Tyler W Stipp / Shutterstock

I probably sound about a hundred years old saying this, but a travel hack I swear by soft, fluffy bed socks. Oh, plus cemeteries are fascinating places to visit – we’re living in Montparnasse, Paris this year, and the Cimetière Montparnasse is full of fascinating tombstones like this one, which is clearly that of a pianist.

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I love Nice in southern France very much because we spent two separate years of our children’s childhoods there, that long curve of the Promenade des Anglais is always haunted for me by the image of our son and daughter speeding along on their scooters, weaving in and out of the tourists in the sunshine.

My earliest holiday memory, I remember our family borrowed someone’s house in the Irish countryside and when I woke up the floor was covered in the most gigantic fresh cow dung. For a city kid, that was like an alien invasion!

A postcard from Nice: My trip to southern France in 12 pictures

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TOP LEFT: Cimetière Montparnasse, TOP RIGHT: Castles of the Loire Valley, BOTTOM LEFT: Art Deco of Brussels, BOTTOM RIGHT: Nice Promenade des Anglais © Getty / Shutterstock

I don’t remember my first time on a plane so it must have been early – traveling was my family’s luxury. I vividly remember most of the trips I made before I was 18 – to France to see the Loire Valley castles and a weekend in London where we saw Roger Rees hamlet.

I was an au pair in Brussels and I think more people should visit it – this beautiful art deco city has much more to offer than just Euro bureaucracy. The last stretch of France’s Mediterranean coast before the Spanish border – Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-Mer – is also gorgeous, with fantastic snorkelling.

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Unesco site, Skellig Michael County Kerry, where Emma’s latest novel was published

If I could be anywhere right now, it would be Skellig Michael. My latest novel oasis is set there, a uniquely prickly island off the Irish coast of Kerry, in the year 600 – but the trip I booked to land on the island was canceled due to Covid and I haven’t been able to fit that trip into my schedule since install . So yes, that’s where I’d like to be magically transported, please.

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