Here's a little bit about the book from Amazon:
When Picky's Mum forces her to look after Gran, who has dementia, Picky is accidentally transported back to the year 1685, where a man in a wig insists she is someone called Amelia and tries to kill her. Managing to get the dress off just in time, Picky returns to the present with the dress covered in blood. Who is Amelia? Is she dead? Will wearing the other dresses in the chest take Picky back in time too? And does she dare put herself in danger again?
The Bookette: I found The Dresskeeper to be full of humour. Did you always intend for Picky to have a comical narrative?
Mary: Yes, I have a teenage daughter myself and she and her friends inspired Picky with their jokey natures and quirky comments – as well as their laziness too! A million inventive excuses for inaction.
The Bookette: I really liked the quote from Samuel Johnson at the start of the book. Have you always been interested in the history of London? What made you decide upon the 17th century as Picky's time travel destination?
Mary: No matter how long one lives in London, there is always something new to discover. I adore London and become quite defensive of those who don’t share my love, hence the Samuel Johnson quote at the front of the book. The quote also ties in nicely with the time travel, and with Picky’s hesitation at remaining in the future.
I chose the 1600s because it is actually a time period people don’t explore a lot in fiction, and it is pre-Jane Austen and Dickens, so young YA readers have the opportunity to explore an historical time period that is new to them. It is also interesting in terms of the relative freedom teenagers had during that time (scoundrels aside, of course). I was also interested in 1685 because it was a time of relative political and religious inactivity, whilst encompassing many famous identities (Wren and Newton for example).
The Bookette: Picky's description of the shocking living conditions for the poor in the 17th century were simultaneously tragic and amusing. How did you go about achieving this balance?
Mary: Mostly by putting myself in the situation and imaging how my own daughters would react to the living conditions and issues such as slavery. It would be quite confronting to any of us to deal with those issues having grown up in a relatively liberal democracy, but it is important to remember that in terms of time travel, the people we meet are just living their lives, and in most lives there is some element of humour.
The Bookette: Tell me about the day you found out your first novel was going to be published. Where were you and how did you feel?
Mary: It was a long process and lots of disappointments but it’s great to finally see all that work being appreciated by people.
The Bookette: And since then, how has your life changed?
Mary: To be honest, I am still writing everyday as before, only this time working on The Plaguemaker.
The Bookette: So you are already working on your second novel, The Plaguemaker. In what ways will this book be similar to The Dresskeeper?
Mary: Although the main protagonist is slightly older, it is still historical in the sense that Blessie makes discoveries about the past, although she herself does not time travel like Picky. Blessie is also in a single-parent family, although in her case her mother has died and her father cannot (understandably) get over it. It is different in that it has a ghostly element and the history dates back a bit further.
The Bookette: Many of my fellow bloggers are aspiring writers. What three pieces of advice can you share with them to help them achieve their dream?
Mary: I suppose to just go for it, write one whole book, and then continue to edit until you are happy with it. From what I can gather from fellow writers, many people don’t realise that you have to edit your own book many times before it is perfect.
Mary, thank you so much for participating in this interview. We wish you every success with the release of The Dresskeeper and I can't wait for your next novel. It sounds fascinating.
Wonderful followers, any advice on how I can improve my interview questions? Please leave me a comment with any points for improvement.
And for those of you who just cannot wait until November 27th, here are the first three chapters of The Dresskeeper for you to enjoy. Thanks to Prospera Publishing for sharing them with me and a big thanks also to Sammee at I want to read that because I stole the embed code from her amazing blog.
Dress Keeper by Mary Naylus Chapters