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emergency 'room' Best-selling author Emma O'Donoghue on her new 'Irish flu' novel and faith in Covid-19 vaccine

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Emma O'Donoghue released her new novel about '1918s Irish flu pandemic' before Covid-19 lockdown

Emma O'Donoghue released her new novel about '1918s Irish flu pandemic' before Covid-19 lockdown

Emma O'Donoghue released her new novel about '1918s Irish flu pandemic' before Covid-19 lockdown

THE Irish author of the book that inspired Oscar-winning Hollywood movie Room has spoken of her faith in scientists and the vaccine to save the world from Covid-19.

Canada-based writer and mum-of-two, Emma Donoghue’s new book, the Pull of the Stars is a novel about the 1918 flu pandemic in Ireland – with the manuscript arriving at the publisher just THREE weeks before the March 2020 lockdown.

“The publishers rang me and said we better put this book out now, because it is so relevant and I was kind of spooked and while other authors were having their books cancelled because of Covid, mine was rushed forward.

“I found myself interested in the Spanish flu or the ‘the grippe’ when it was the centenary of the anniversary of the 1918 pandemics and the idea of a modern busy world where everything just shutdown because of pandemic struck me as kind of spooky. Little did I know what was ahead, it is eerie.

“This was in the middle of a world word war with people getting busy going to work and getting buses and it was almost post-apocalyptic.

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Emma's book 'Room' was made into a Hollywood blockbuster

Emma's book 'Room' was made into a Hollywood blockbuster

Emma's book 'Room' was made into a Hollywood blockbuster

“So, I went through a few books and I discovered that pregnant women in late pregnancy were the most vulnerable to this flu and I though well that is interesting because I could have two medical stories going on at once, so I based it in a maternity hospital in Dublin.

“I used manuals written by Irish doctors for nurses which was really funny because the tone of thebooks, it was so useful, because you’ve Irish docs writing books saying don't use any of this information to make decisions, this is just a diagram, you are just a nurse.

“It was funny too because everyone was so chipper about living in weeks of hell.

”The Pull of the Stars tells the story of Nurse Julia Power who works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mums with the flu are quarantined together. Based on just three days on award there is death and new life.

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Emma's new book 'The Pull of the Stars' is out now

Emma's new book 'The Pull of the Stars' is out now

Emma's new book 'The Pull of the Stars' is out now

“This time around we have amazing scientists all over the world, I mean back then they knew so little,they were literally giving patients sugared whiskey.

“The attitude of the government is not that different though, the attitude of blame.

”Notices at the time read; ‘Early to sleep and keep windows wide, while taking care to avoid draughts. Ventilation and Sanitation will be our Nations Salvation.

Just a few pages into the novel Emma writes:

‘On a fence, specifics of a variety concert with 'CANCELLED' stamped diagonally across them; an advertisement for the All-Ireland Hurling Finals, 'POSTPONED FOR THE DURATION' pasted on it.

‘So many shops shuttered now due to staff being laid low by the grippe, and offices with blinds drawn down or regretful notices nailed up.

'Many of the firms that were still open looked deserted to me, on the verge of failing for lack of custom. Dublin was a great mouth with missing teeth.’

The Pull of the Stars is in shops now.

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