Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Author Interview: Susanne Dunlap

First I'd like to thank Susanne for taking the time to answer my questions. I read and reviewed Susanne's first YA novel The Musician's Daughter, back when I was blogging over at My Favorite Author.

I was thrilled to get a copy of ANASTASIA'S SECRET which I wanted to read ever since she first mentioned she was working on a book about the Grand Duchess in our last interview! I hope that this little Q&A will get you even more excited about reading this book, for I truly did enjoy it!

My Pile Of Books: You obviously put a lot of research into your work. Which do you prefer more, the research or writing fiction?

Susanne Dunlap: Definitely the writing, but the research inspires me. When I'm researching, I'm itching to start putting the story together, to bring the characters to life.

MPB: ANASTASIA'S SECRET is more than just a fantasy version of what might have been. What do you hope your teenage readers take from a more true to life story of what happened to the Romanovs?

SD: I know some people will wish that I had done it differently, but what inspired me about her story is that she wasn't a little girl while all those awful things were happening to her family, she was a teenager. I wanted to explore what it must have been like to come of age in the midst of all that, through the contrast between unimaginable luxury and the horrifying prospect of a terrible end.

MPB: Why were you drawn to Anastasia as a narrator?

SD: She's a shadowy character in history, described as the "clown" of the family, and as the youngest (and unwanted) fourth daughter of an imperial couple who yearned for a son. I felt she must have had some pain in her life, some feeling for her second-class status, and that the conflicts in her heart—between being a loving sister and perhaps envying the position her two older sisters and younger brother had in her parents' affections—deserved to have a voice. I also wanted to give her more of an independent life than she is portrayed as having in history.

MPB: Besides Anastasia who in this novel was your favorite character to research and write about?

SD: Hmmm. I think possibly there isn't an individual one, but discovering the roles of the members of the household and the servants, and what they sacrificed to stay with the family, was quite a revelation.

MPB: Can you tell us about what you are working on now?

SD: My next novel is about a young parlor maid from the East End of London who stows away to go with Florence Nightingale's nurses to the Crimea.

MPB: What have you read in the last few months that has blown you away?

SD: I've read an unpublished manuscript by a dear friend that has really blown me away, and the soon-to-be published novel Claude and Camille, by Stephanie Cowell. It's the story of Claude Monet and his lover Camille, set in that incredible time for the art world in Paris. It's a very tender love story, and an evocative setting. As for teen books, the novel I Am Rembrandt's Daughter by Lynn Cullen was fabulous.

*Thank you again Susanne for being part of our blog!


Ratliffs said...

Fun! Can't wait to get my hands on this!!

Randi said...


Sara said...

Great interview. I think I will have to read this book!