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Ontario-based Room writer Emma Donoghue tackling new film projects

Emma Donoghue, acclaimed writer of Room, has already drafted a screenplay from her 2014 novel Frog Music.


The film world hasn't seen the last of Room writer Emma Donoghue – not by a long shot.

The Ontario-based author, who got an Oscar nomination and a slew of other honours for adapting her hit novel Room for the big screen, has already drafted a screenplay from her 2014 novel Frog Music and is working with producer Alison Owen (Elizabeth, Shaun of the Dead) on it.

It's based on the true story of French burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon and the murder of her cross-dressing female friend Jenny Bonnet in late 1800s San Francisco.

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Donoghue is also working on a BBC adaptation of someone else's book, but she can't reveal details about it yet.

"I've got a few film projects coming up. I'm hoping film will continue to be a really interesting sideline for me," Donoghue said this week after receiving the 2015 Golden Box Office Award from Telefilm Canada.

"I think fiction will always be my main home. I love the fact that it's so autonomous, I can write whatever comes into my head.

"But I would say film is one of my new directions."

The annual Golden Box Office Award recognizes "the Canadian or majority Canadian co-production English-language feature film that performed exceptionally well at the box office in the previous calendar year, earning at least $1-million."

The award typically comes with a cash prize of $40,000, to be shared by the director(s) and screenwriter(s). Because Room director Lenny Abrahamson is not Canadian, only Donoghue got her portion of the prize – $20,000.

However, she decided to donate the money to the ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, which features aboriginal projects.

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The Dublin native, who lives in London, Ont., said she wanted to give back to the industry and do her bit to make it better.

"I think everyone can agree that this particular year there's no doubt that how to make the film industry better is to make it more diverse," Donoghue said.

"And as a woman entering into screenwriting, where we are probably a minority compared with men, I'm so aware that you need help to get into an industry that can seem like it has closed walls."

Donoghue's latest honour came a day after Room won nine Canadian Screen Awards. She took home the best adapted screenplay trophy while stars Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson, who play a mother and son held captive in a shed, also won.

Donoghue's other upcoming projects include her first children's novel, The Lotterys Plus One.

Due out in spring 2017, the story is set in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood and sees a family of four parents and seven kids take in a grandfather with dementia, a condition Donoghue's mother has.

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"What I'm really trying to do is deal with quite serious issues but in a very light way, flippancy being the keynote, and I'm so enjoying that," Donoghue said.

She said it will be the first of four children's novels she releases.

Her two children, eight and 12, are her "perfect focus group."

"I think that's a whole new challenge as well and again, quite scary, because I always imagine child readers just literally dropping the book and walking away. You know, they're not polite as readers," she said with a laugh.

"So I think it's crucial that you learn new skills, because otherwise you would start to coast or repeat yourself."

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