Today we have an interview with Mary Naylus, author of historical YA novel The Dresskeeper, published by Prospera Publishing. Thank you, Mary, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions.
The premise of The Dresskeeper is just genius! Where did you get the idea for The Dresskeeper?
Being a history buff I love thinking about ‘what if’ scenarios. So as I was reading about 16th century London I wondered what it would be like for today’s teenager to suddenly be transported back into the past and have to conform socially to a more rigid and inflexible society. Clothing and architecture were the most obvious way to do this, as they are existing links to the past.
What is it about this time period that interests you?
Loads of things. Science was becoming accepted; well known institutions such as the stock exchange were just beginning to take shape in coffee houses; and people had a really perverse obsession with fashion, including men.
Did you come across anything surprising when doing your research?
Yes, the fact that marriage was expensive and that poorer women had to work to save up a portion or dowry so that they could marry. Also that there wasn’t any police force to speak of, which meant that if a man kidnapped a wealthy girl and married her, nothing much could be done.
I was surprised by some of the things Picky didn’t know about the past. Did you find this was typical for young teenagers?
Yes, mostly because teenagers have to be really interested in a subject to take in information. Of course, there are many young people who have a great knowledge of history, but Picky unfortunately wasn’t one of them.
How was your publishing process?
Pretty typical. The toughest part was definitely getting the book finished in time, particularly as I had to come up with the plot for The Plaguemaker and write the first chapter as well.
Did you always want to be an author?
Of course. I was trying to write books when I was in high school, but never really found the perfect genre for my writing style. Then I began reading historical fiction and it dawned on me to write for teenagers, using a quirky, first person style.
If you could go back in time, when would you go to, and what would you do?
Well, I love London so it would be wonderful to be able to drop in and out of the great city over a number of centuries, a bit like Rutherford’s London does, but in reality. Also, Egypt fascinates me – I love spending time at the British Museum with those mummies!
Can you tell us a little bit about your next book, The Plaguemaker?
Sure. It’s set in modern day London and intertwines 15-year-old Blessie’s ghostly dreams of young children with historical aspects of bubonic plague during the 1650s.
Many thanks for your interest, Mary.
Thank you, Mary, for such a great interview! For those who haven't read it, here's my review of The Dresskeeper.