Exclusive Interview with
Wendy J Dunn
When did you start writing?
Since childhood....I knew I wanted to write by eight. At ten, I won my first poetry competition. I was also ten when a friend gave me a child’s book of English history. I read the story of Elizabeth I, another unwanted and seemingly unloved daughter. Watching my bearded, scowling father behead another one of our chooks for the Sunday roast, it seemed I watched Henry VIII, a man also good at putting an axe to a bloody use. I thought, Elizabeth triumphed over her dark times, why can’t I? That book changed my life and began my lifelong desire to learn and then write about the Tudors.
What makes writing your passion?
Life, that glass darkly, becomes less darker because I write. I mirror myself to others through text and grow, learning to recognise a deeper sense of self, identity. By writing I construct a deconstruction of how I see my world – for “human beings require the mediation of consciousness, or the mirror of language, in order to know themselves and the world” (Derrida online).
How long have you been writing?
Feels like forever...
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Amazing, terrifying, but the publication of Dear Heart, How Like You This? gave me the impetus and encouragement I needed to keep writing...
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I am drawn to give voice to people who deserved not to be forgotten by history. I am particularly passionate about telling the stories of historical women. I know about the oppression of women because I lived it and witnessed it growing up in my working class family – where I, as a daughter, had less value than a son. All my stories compost in a feminist standpoint, and are written from a feminist standpoint.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Making time to market my work. I far rather spend the time writing...
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
One word at a time.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
To be a “practicing writer” means to be willing to put our work “out there,” in the public realm. Subjectivity will always make its judgement; for a beginner writer, that judgement may mean work is returned, rejected. What a writer does then sorts out the stayers from the wannabes. A true writer does not give on their craft. Work rejected? All right – that means revisiting it, looking it over with critical eyes once again, maybe even doing a total rewrite. A writer’s skills as a craftsperson is honed and developed through engagement with text – through interrogating their own writing and through interrogating the writing of others.
Want to be a writer? Don’t give up.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Keep believing in yourself. You hold your destiny in your own hands; it’s up to you. Just keep working hard at making your dreams come true.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I read the good ones - and no longer read the bad ones. Life is too short for that.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I treasure every word!
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Of course. But writing historical fiction enables me to create it anew in the context of another time - and the construction of a fictional character.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
All my characters have bits and pieces of me. As Naipaul once wrote, "... fiction never lies: it reveals the writer totally."
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Book covers are important, but not as important as the story.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Who is your favorite author? Why?
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?