Kate Robinson Dunne’s first published story was a journal entry about her grandmother that she wrote at the age of seven, and which was featured in her school board’s literary anthology. Many stories read and written later comes Ludlow Lost, Dunne’s first novel, still honouring her grandmother and the grandchild who loved her so dearly. A sequel is slated for spring 2019.
She lives just north of her hometown of Montreal with her husband, two dogs and the fairy she keeps in her pocket.
1. What’s your writing background?
I’ve been writing stories since I was quite young, probably since I was six or seven. In elementary school, my teachers submitted my stories to the school board’s anthology and one of my stories was published when I was seven years old. I also remember my second grade teacher sending me to read a story I had written to the first grade class. Throughout elementary school I wrote stories and plays, and in high school I was known for my writing and public speaking. I went on to study English literature in college and university and had a short story published in my university’s literary journal. I’ve had a day job for many years, but was never able to stop daydreaming stories, so although it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, I finally forced myself to sit (in what little free time I had) and write one of them down.
2. Where did you get the idea for Ludlow Lost?
One day the title and first two paragraphs just came to me. Luckily I was in a position to drop what I was doing and write them down. I didn’t write any more of the story for quite some time. To me, a good story is always a coming together of a few different ideas. One day, daydreaming on a bus, I realized what the point of the story was going to be, and the last sentence of the story came to me. The story has developed over time, but the title, first two paragraphs and last line are exactly as they have been from the very beginning.
3. Is Ludlow based on anyone you know?
Ludlow is mostly me. I read encyclopaedias and the dictionary as a child, my father read fiction to me and my sister at bedtime, I know how to use a compass and I’ve visited quite a few ships over the years. As a child I was usually a bit shy when I first met people, but still friendly, and I’ve always been able to get along with many different types of people. I was also quite close to my grandmother and miss her every day.
4. Which is your favourite character and why?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. I enjoy all of these characters, even Morag. If I had to pick only one, I’d pick Isla. She’s sweet and friendly, naïve but interested in other creatures and the world, and she’s also brave and heroic.
5. Did you have other ideas for a title?
I did consider Kidnapped by Creatures Human Beings Don’t Believe in but Who Exist Just the Same, but that wouldn’t have fit on the cover.
6. Who are some authors you enjoy? Did anyone influence you?
I enjoy the work of many authors from Shakespeare to C.S. Lewis to Douglas Adams. I think the narrative voice of Ludlow Lost was partly inspired by Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I enjoy the work of a number of contemporary authors of middle-grade fiction, but the one who always immediately comes to mind is Kate DiCamillo. The book Flora and Ulysses just fills me with joy.
7. If Ludlow could talk, what is one thing he would say to someone reading his books?
My grandmother used to read me bedtime stories of heroes and heroines and creatures human beings don’t believe in. When I told her how much I wished they could be true, she answered, “Be careful what you wish for, Luddy.”
8. How many Ludlow books will there be?
I haven’t quite decided that yet. There will be at least one more, and most likely two. He definitely has a couple more adventures in his future.
9. What was your favourite grade and subject?
My favourite grade was probably fourth. I loved my teacher, Ms. Gordon. She read to us for the last 20 minutes of class every day and used Mad Libs to help teach us the parts of speech. My favourite subject throughout all of my schooling was English, but I was also fond of art and biology.
10. What do you do when you aren’t writing?
1) I love to read (I think reading is the most important step to becoming a successful writer), 2) I love good food and enjoy trying new recipes and cooking with my husband and 3) I spend time with my family and dogs.
11. What advice would you give anyone wanting to be a writer?
If you want to write fiction, read. Read everything and anything that interests you, but also read a lot of fiction and read the works you really enjoyed twice. Read once for the joy and entertainment value and a second time to appreciate how the author crafted the story. Read about the craft of writing, and then read more fiction. Then write, rewrite and rewrite.