Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Inside Look #17 (Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart)

An Inside Look - With Donna Gephart
Author of Lily and Dunkin

*Another Monday, means another "inside look" with an author.

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" with them about their novel, the characters, and their thoughts about the story.

*I have had such fun connecting with authors and "picking" their brains.

*Here are the links to the first SIXTEEN interviews…

*I was lucky enough to have Donna send me an ARC of Lily and Dunkin last spring.  I had heard such wonderful things about the story and was thrilled to be able to read it before it hit shelves.

*All of Donna's novels are wonderful.  Each one of them has brought such joy and insight to my life.

*After starting these "Inside Look" blog posts, I was choosing novels that I was currently reading.  When thinking about other books that I would like to look at more closely, this one definitely came to mind.

*Donna was gracious enough to agree to the interview questions.  I appreciate her time, her thoughts, and giving us an intimate look at two extraordinary characters.

*Here are the interview questions and answers...

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Released May 3, 2016)

How did you come to know Lily and Dunkin?
Lily’s character is a composite of the many, many narratives I read/listened to/watched of transgender people who bravely shared their experiences in essays/memoirs/podcasts/documentaries.  Dunkin is inspired by our son, who has bipolar disorder, but his character is also based on mountains of research.  Once I began writing, the characters took on lives of their own, of course.

What do you think is Lily and Dunkin's most admirable quality?
Lily is so big-hearted.  One reviewer said that her favorite relationship in the book was between Lily and her beloved banyan tree, Bob.  I liked that because it showed how Lily cares deeply about others.  Dunkin cares so much about his little family, even as he struggles mightily with his illness and situation.  And I like how he finds ways to show Lily that he cares about her, and those gestures matter so much to Lily.

Is there anything you wish Lily and Dunkin would have changed or done differently in their story?
Oh, I wish they didn’t make all the mistakes they made, especially Dunkin, but that wouldn’t be realistic.  We all learn from those mistakes and they’re necessary for growth.  They make us better, more compassionate humans.

What do you think Lily and Dunkin can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what they went through?
Lily and Dunkin have the power to let a lot of young people know they are not alone, that there are others with the same feelings and struggles.  That’s powerful to find a friend in literature when you feel alone in the world.  And to those young readers who aren’t in similar situations, Lily and Dunkin can open hearts and minds to understanding, appreciating and embracing differences.  

What was the hardest scene to write about these two young people?Some of the scenes in this book tore at my heart so much that I’d avoid writing them — oh, look, time to reorganize my bookshelf by author . . . no, wait by title . . . no, by color.  Hmm, let’s see what’s in fridge now.  Until finally I gathered the emotional courage to write the difficult scenes that were inevitable, yet  painful.  

Who do you think was Lily and Dunkin's biggest supporter and why?
Lily found support from her yoga-mat-toting mom and knitting-crazy older sister and of course her good, tough friend, Dare.  And Dunkin’s mom and exercise-obsessed grandmother provided his safety net.  Why were they so supportive?  Love.  

Why do you think some people have such a hard time accepting other people that are different from them?
Fear.  Ignorance.  Once we know a person, it’s really hard to dislike them and to be cruel to them.  And one of the ways we can “know” a person is through literature.

What do you think Lily and Dunkin are doing as the present time?  Hmm.  Maybe they’re sipping a cuppa at Dunkin Donuts and laughing about one of Dunkin’s magic tricks.  At least I hope so.

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