“Usually writing the next book keeps me occupied, but I have to say the publicity around this one has gotten so intense that it’s distracting me. I do find the mockery of my friends is keeping me grounded though. It’s the most helpful thing,” she says.
“The night the Booker shortlist came out I had friends over for a curry and they were making fun of me for being included in the list. It was just deeply relaxing that they were celebrating it and simultaneously taking the piss.”
For now though, there’s no escaping the glare of the nomination and all the madness that follows it. Donoghue knows this and is determined to enjoy the ride.
“I’m going to try to fully enjoy this year, and then I’ll get right back to writing the books I write and not worry about who’s going to read them. What I don’t want is to be all bitter and twisted when the next book doesn’t sell like this one does,” she says.
“I realize that yes, people like my writing but it’s mostly just the concept of the book. It’s just that most people are disproportionately fascinated by the concept of a kidnapped or enclosed life. They’re also responding terribly strongly to the mother and child bond.
“People bring all sorts of aspects of themselves to the reading of a book. In a way I feel only partly responsible for this one. Room has become a bit of a phenomenon and I’m trying not to take it too personally, you know?”
Asked if the experience of writing Room made her examine her own parenting skills, she laughs.
“I’m a much more salty and bad tempered mother than the one in the book. But I’m not known to be a bad tempered person otherwise. I’m usually considered to be equable and calm yet I shout at my children every day,” Donoghue shares.
“I mean I don’t shout at them all day, I try to be great company in between times, so they’ll have something nice to remember. But they drive me to distraction.”
Room has made Donoghue horribly self-conscious about her parenting, she confesses.
“I tried to make the Ma character as realistic. I didn’t want her to be this heroic figure. And you know, they do say if you’re a gloriously saintly mother that can mess up your children. My children will be in no danger of that.”
Asked how she keeps her level headedness amid the press frenzy, she has a pithy answer.
“This is my seventh book of fiction. I’ve lived through the exciting times when publishers call up saying we’re reprinting more, and comparing that with other books of mine when publication day came and went with nothing at all happening.
“It would mess with your head if you thought badly of your book just because nobody liked it. So I really try to give each book my best, and let them go out into the world where some will be luckier than others.”
Room is published by Little Brown.