Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Interview: Mary Naylus

Back cover: Have you ever pretended to be someone else? Picky Robson thought things couldn't get any worse. Her life is a boy-free zone, she's being bullied at school, then mum announces she has to look after gran every weekend for the foreseeable future. One night, unknowingly tempting fate, Picky slips into a flouncy old dress from the depths of an ancient chess and finds herself back in 17th Century London. But she is not alone. A weirdo in a wig is trying to kill her - mistaking her for a girl called Amelia. Who is Amelia? Can Picky change the past by exposing the murderer? And will she make it back alive?

Mary Naylus, the author of The Dresskeeper kindly took the time to answer a few of my questions:

• I loved Picky’s voice (and her humorous observations) – was this easy to develop? Did you base her on anyone you know?

I suppose Picky is an adult’s humorous take on how teenagers see themselves and the world. Having a teenager myself it was quite easy to develop the voice, but also I write in coffee shops in the main, and there is plenty of teenage talk there too, some of which is quite eye-opening!

• I loved the time travel aspect of the book. How much research did you need to do for the 17th century setting and what interested you most about this period?

Quite a lot, and in fact I had my mother read and research all the same material too, so that I didn’t make any silly errors. I wanted to have a relatively factual book in terms of history, but needed to ensure the plot was fast-moving and appealing to teens. Hence the knowledge and research had to be quite ingrained before I began to write.

What interested me most was that 1685 London was already on the cusp of modernity, in terms of architectural development; the coffee houses that doubled as mini-stock exchanges; the acceptance of scientific developments; the many newspapers and so on. Even the political situation was relatively peaceful.

• Do you have a favourite scene in the book?

I think the part where Picky talks about the dome of St Paul’s with Christopher Wren would have to be my favourite. The political situation at the time (not fully played out in the book because I don’t think teenagers would have been as intrigued as adults might) meant that he had to build the cathedral without revealing his dome until it was too late to change the design. The fact that a young girl knew about his secret dome would have been an eye-opener to Sir Christopher.

• If you could travel back in time like Picky when/where would you like to travel to? Is there a Historical figure you’d like to meet?

That’s a difficult question because there are so many time periods I would love to visit. Personally I would avoid any time period that featured excessive military action, but off the top of my head travelling back to Florence in the 1400s-1500s and meeting the Medici’s at the height of their power would be fun. Maybe I could incorporate that period into a novel at some point.

• Did you always intend on becoming a writer? Who are some of your favourite authors?

Yes, I’ve always loved to write, and to be perfectly honest, my taste in authors is wide-ranging, from mainstream to lesser-known talents. I would have to say that Pompeii by Robert Harris is one book that stands out.

• Can you tell us anything about your next book The Plaguemaker?

Sure, it’s set in modern day London, where 15-year-old Blessie is receiving ghostly messages that she discovers relate to a family of plague victims from the start of the great plague of 1665. These people appear to have been buried beneath the land Blessie’s architect father is hoping to build on to keep them out bankruptcy.

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A big thank you to Mary for taking the time to answer my questions for my first author interview! The Dresskeeper is published 30 November. You can read my review here and read the first 3 chapters by clicking here.

4 comments:

Lauren said...

Love the interview! I think the scene with Christopher Wren was my favourite too. I've got a morbid fascination with Plague so I'm looking forward to Mary Naylus's next book too.

Becky said...

Great interview Sammee. I agree with Lauren, Wren was a really interesting character - that was a great scene.

Anonymous said...

your first interview! Way to go!

Chicklish said...

Great interview! We're running one tomorrow too! :)
I love the sound of the next book!

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