This month, Bookworm had the extreme honor of interviewing the lovely Fiona Dunbar, author of the Lulu Baker series and Toonhead! We hope you enjoy the interview (below)!
Bookworm: What inspired you to write the Lulu Baker trilogy?
Fiona: Well, I am very interested in food! Initially, I just had the 'magic recipe book' idea, then the other stuff stemmed from that. It seemed logical that Lulu's nemesis should be someone who's obsessed with dieting. I hate the pressure that girls of today are under to be skinny and glam; I wanted to tell them "There's more to life than that!"
Bookworm: What was your childhood like?
Fiona: Happy but dysfunctional. My father left when I was 7 years old; my stepfather was an alcoholic jazz musician; pretty soon my mother became an alcoholic too. There were always financial problems; we lived in a snobby suburb of London because my mother had upwardly-mobile aspirations, but she couldn't afford it and couldn't fit in; she was always an Essex girl at heart, I reckon.
Bookworm: Are any of the characters based on real-life people?
Fiona: Not literally, but there are some composites/wild exaggerations. Lulu's a bit of me and a bit of my daughter. Varaminta LeBone bears some resemblance to a friend of my mum's, and Torquil to the brother of a friend. LJ Sylva resembles someone else, but I'm not saying who.
Bookworm: Which was your favorite book to write?
Fiona: So far I think it has to be Toonhead, because it was after I'd gone through the learning curve of writing The Truth Cookie, but before I'd got published, so I was purely entertaining myself. (I wrote Lulu Baker books 2 and 3 after Toonhead)
Bookworm: What is your favorite children's book today, and which were your favorites as a kid?
Fiona: As a child: Greek myths, The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton, and The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Today: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Peter Pan and Wendy by JM Barrie, Holes by Louis Sachar, Skellig by David Almond, and The Story of Tracey Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson.
Bookworm: What is your new series, The Silk Sisters about?
Fiona: After doing a trilogy with a food theme, I decided on fashion next. Again, that was the starting point from which everything else evolved. I got interested in clothing and identity, and in Smart clothing (see the 'My Wardrobe' page on my site for more details). At 12 or 13, many girls become very preoccupied with image; they are trying to discover who they are. I thought it would be interesting to take that idea to an extreme level: what if you could try 'being' other people? But I didn't feel that concept alone was enough to carry a whole trilogy, so I explored the identity theme further. When we speak of "identity theft", we mean electronic data relating to bank account, etc...but imagine a world in which people's identities were really being stolen! This is a rather sci-fi concept, which is one reason why I set it in the future; the other is that I am satirising the world we live in now, imagining a world in which multi-billionaire corporations have control over everything we do.
Bookworm: Are there any new/upcoming books of your that are coming out?
Fiona: Blue Gene Baby [the sequel to Pink Chameleon], the second book in the Silk Sisters series, is coming out next month.
Bookworm Readers would like to give a hearty thanks to Fiona Dunbar for this awesome interview! We can't wait to read what's coming next from you! (: