First Draft Episode #195: Jennifer Donnelly
Jennifer Donnelly, New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light, Revolution, These Shallow Graves, and The Tea Rose series (incl. The Tea Rose; The Winter Rose; The Wild Rose) and Waterfire Saga series (incl. Deep Blue; Rogue Wave; Dark Tide; Sea Spell), Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, , among others, who is back with the New York Times bestselling Stepsister. Jennifer talks about being raised on bedtime stories about life under the Hitler regime; how to deep-dive into writing a historical novel; and the joy of being obsessed.
Links and Topics Mentioned In This Episode
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When Jennifer visited Portobello Road in East London, she felt like she was stepping back into the London of Charles Dickens (author of Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities), artist William Hogarth, Jack the Ripper (learn more with The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Phillip Sugden), The Labour Movement, the London Dock Worker Strike
Simon Lipskar of Writer’s House was interested in Jennifer’s first crack at writing a novel, which was 1,100 words(!)
Sally Kim, VP and Editor in Chief at Putnam, was then at St. Martin’s, when she purchased Jennifer’s first book
Steven Malk at Writer’s House became Jennifer’s agent to sell A Northern Light and subsequent books
Jennifer’s mom bought her a copy of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, and that sparked the obsession that led to A Northern Light. (Non-fiction accounts of the murder of Grace Brown include Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906, written by Joseph W. Brownell and Patricia Enos; and Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited, by Craig Brandon.)
The murder case of Laci Peterson, documented in true crime novel A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation by Catherine Crier
Jennifer was stopped short by a New York Times article about the heart of Louis Charles, Dauphin of France, the imprisoned son of the king of France who was toppled by the French Revolution. The story was likely either “Genetics Offers Denouement To Mystery of Prince's Death,” by Suzanne Daley, or “MEANWHILE : Learning from a heart stilled by revolution,” by Catherine Field. UPDATE: Jennifer confirmed that the article she saw was, “Geneticists’ Latest Probe: The Heart of the Dauphin” by Suzanne Daley
Jennifer was inspired by “Savage Beauty,” the Met’s retrospective of fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s work
Jennifer’s short story in Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All led her to explore the themes of beauty and how we reinforce those standards on young women in Stepsister
I blow up Maurene Goo’s spot (author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, The Way You Make Me Feel, and her newest, Somewhere Only We Know) getting obsessed with the Supernatural TV show (listen to Maurene’s First Draft episodes here, here, and here)
I’m obsessed with The Dyatlov Pass Incident, which was covered in Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
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