Can you introduce yourself to my readers a little?
I’m the writer of four YA paranormal romances and a spooky YA prelude to Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Also I’m a wife and mother—the heart of my home and the reason things run smoothly (or don’t). My two daughters are in their twenties now, but they’re still the center of my world, and I first started writing my books for them when they were teenagers away at boarding school. It was a way for us to bond through the mail. My publishers say my books are YA, but they’re the kind of book I’ve always loved best. I like an exciting page-turner with colorful characters and interesting magic, so that’s what I write.
Can you introduce us to the world that you have created?
Since I have seven books out now, I haven’t created just one world. I’ll tell you a little bit about my three favorite worlds.
The Hollow Kingdom, my first book, featured a Jane Austin-style heroine and a magical goblin King. (It won the Mythopoeic Award in 2004 for best children’s fantasy book.) My daughters clamored for more, so I wrote two more books in the goblin kingdom, completing The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy. That world features a beautiful, luxurious underground kingdom that’s home to some very ugly but sophisticated goblins. It’s based on British folktales of bride capture. Of all my worlds, I think I enjoy my goblin kingdom the most because the characters are so varied and interesting and their magic is so advanced. It’s fun to force people to walk around on ceilings! And that kingdom has a rich history. You can learn more about it on my website because I’ve posted several Hollow Kingdom short stories there. One of them is here: http://www.claredunkle.com/Design/cklim.htm
Then I got interested in werewolves and wrote By These Ten Bones, a YA werewolf romance set in the medieval Highlands of Scotland. My poor werewolf, Paul, has given up on normal life because if the Highlanders learn what he is, they’ll burn him to death. So he travels from town to town, silent, befriending no one, making his living by woodcarving. But an outgoing girl named Maddie takes pity on the mute carver. She’s determined to learn his secrets and settle him down.
I researched extensively to create the By These Ten Bones world. I visited living history museums across the Highlands and enlisted the aid of a world-renowned scholar to make the book as accurate as I could. You can see the photographs we took on that research trip here: http://www.claredunkle.com/Design/tbphotoindex.htm
The world of the medieval Highlanders was primitive and harsh, but my characters don’t know that. It’s their home, so they love it and celebrate life there, and Maddie and Paul are very sweet together. That book was released in 2006, but a brand new paperback edition has just come out.
The House of Dead Maids, my Wuthering Heights prelude, is a very dark ghost story that explains the mystery of Heathcliff’s early life. In it, a girl named Tabby is brought to a dusty old mansion to look after a savage little boy. But she soon finds that the previous maid hasn’t left, even though she’s dead. The little gray-faced ghost girl refuses to leave Tabby alone, and Tabby begins to wonder what the ghost is trying to tell her. It’s a bridge book: its goal is to inspire teen readers who haven’t tackled Wuthering Heights to give the classic a try.
I had a wonderful time researching that world. You can see some of my research photos here: http://www.claredunkle.com/Design/maidsphotoindex.htm . It’s a world of spooky shadows and frightening topiary shapes in the garden. It’s full of antique furniture and things that go bump in the night. Wuthering Heights scared me when I first read it, so I wanted readers to feel uneasy as they read The House of Dead Maids too.
Will this be your first RT or are you a veteran? Any advice for those who are going for the first time?
This is my first RT. I’m excited to be going because an author friend has told me how wonderful it is. If your readers have any advice for me, I’d love to hear it.
Are you speaking on any panels during RT? Are there any you are looking forward to?
Yes, I’m speaking on two YA panels on Thursday: Pretty in Pink, from 10 to 11, and Not Another Teen Panel, from 11:15 to 12:15. I hope they’re in nearby rooms! I don’t know what panels I’ll be attending yet. I’ll have to pull out the program and do some planning.
If someone were wanting to meet up with you at RT, who should they look for?
You can find my photo in this feature, as well as on my website and at my profile on the RT Booklovers Convention website. I won’t have time to chat between panels, but I’d be happy to do so afterwards. Just look for the short-haired lady who looks slightly lost. And I’ll be signing at the Book Fair on Saturday too.