TBP: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
SD: I've had a varied and interesting life. I worked in advertising, I went back to school and got advanced degrees in music history, and always wanted to teach at college level. I think it was my fascination with history that led me suddenly to realize that I could make history come to life by weaving it into stories.
My first two novels were for adults, and then my agent suggested I give young adult a try, since my novels had a lot of those characteristics anyway. I haven’t looked back. I love writing stories with teen protagonists, strong young women with challenges to face. Maybe that’s partly because I have two grown-up daughters and two wonderful little granddaughters, who I can't wait to be able to read my books!
TBP Describe your newest YA novel, In the Shadow of the Lamp, in nine words.
SD: Parlormaid looks for future and romance in the Crimea.
TBP: Briefly tell us about your other two YA novels, Anastasia's Secret and The Musician's Daughter.
SD: The Musician’s Daughter was my first YA, and it drew on my love of music. It takes place in Vienna in the late 18th century, while Haydn was music master for Esterhazy, and is a sort of murder mystery with political overtones.
Anastasia’s Secret is the story of the youngest Romanov grand duchess, who was a teenager during the World War I and the Russian Revolution. I wanted to explore what it must have been like to come of age in that terrible time, and to give her a realistic voice.
TBP: Are you currently working on any future YA novels?
SD: I’m in the process of revising a novel that will come out in April, 2012, called The Académie, about three famous young ladies who all attended the same French boarding school in 1799—when Napoleon was about to become First Consul of France.
TBP: In the Shadow of the Lamp shows the reader a glimpse into the life of Florence Nightingale. What inspired you to research and write about this historically famous woman?
SD: Oddly enough, it was an idea from my editor. We were talking at lunch one day, and she said she’d always been fascinated with Florence Nightingale. I thought about it after that—I love a challenge. A YA novel about Florence Nightingale during the most exciting time of her life, in the Crimea, would be difficult because Florence was 35 at the time. But while I was thinking, this English, East-End voice kept popping into my head, and Molly created herself.
TBP: If you could go back in time to speak to any historical figure and write a true, un-cut, all revealed biography of what their life was really like, who would it be and why?
SD: That’s another tough question. There are so many historical figures I admire. I think it would have to be Francesca Caccini, who was a woman composer at the Medici court in Florence in the early 17th century. She was the first woman ever to compose an opera, and from what I know of her life, I think it must have been very exciting.
TBP: Judging from your Bio, you are very passionate about music and, it seems, quite the pianist. What changed, causing you to rarely play anymore?
SD: Ah, the piano. I thought I would be a concert pianist, once upon a time! But it’s a very tough world, and I had terrible performance anxiety. Then I turned to studying music academically, and between that and raising my children their wasn’t time enough to practice the four to six hours a day necessary. I’ll play again, but I don’t actually have a piano in my Brooklyn apartment.
TBP: Who, would you say, is one of your favorite musicians of both past and present and why?
SD: I adore Handel’s music. I could listen to it forever. And he was a fascinating character too. No one knows for sure whether he was gay or not, and he was a successful businessman/impresario. He basically invented the English oratorio. And I love that period in history, too. The 18th century was great, coming before Victorian morality kind of set women back several centuries.
TBP: Who is another YA author that you think you might like to co-write a book with and why?
SD: I would co-write a book with Laurie Halse Anderson, because I love her writing, and she’s also interested in history. I think her ability to have an edgy teen voice would be an advantage.
TBP: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
SD: Only to thank you for inviting me here, and providing such a wonderful venue for getting the word out about IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAMP! We writers are so grateful to bloggers and their followers.
I hope all of you enjoyed the interview and a big thanks to Susanne for letting me
In the Shadow of the Lamp was an amazing novel and I look forward to reading more of Dunlap's work soon. You can find out more about what I thought:
My Noteworthy Passages
And if you just know you are going to love this book like I did, go ahead and pre-order it or enter my giveaway for a signed ARC.
Thanks, you all, for stopping by.