Author Interview: Jennifer DonnellyTuesday, March 08, 2011
- What influenced you to write this novel, Revolution?
I knew, as I’m sure you all do, that during the French Revolution Louis and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and eventually guillotined by the revolutionaries – who were at that point led by Robespierre. What I didn’t know, though, was that after the king and queen were executed, their children – fourteen-year-old Marie-Therese and eight-year-old Louis Charles, the dauphin, were kept in prison. Marie-Therese would survive her imprisonment and would be released in 1795. Louis-Charles was not so lucky.
As heir to the throne, he was seen as a threat by the revolutionaries. It was rumored that powerful people were plotting to free the child and rule in his name. To prevent this, Robespierre and his crew essentially had Louis Charles walled up alive. He was kept in a small dark cold cell. Alone. Without books and toys. Without enough food or a fire. He became sick. And he went mad. And eventually he died. At the age of ten.
Needless to say, that article really upset me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Couldn’t stop wondering how the idealism of the revolution devolved into such cruelty. I went to bed thinking about it. Woke up thinking about it. I recognized the feeling – it’s how I feel when a book is starting inside me. But I couldn’t act on that feeling because I had other books due at the time. Nonetheless, the story stayed with me. Time moved on. I finished the other books. And I had a child. Which changed my life in many wonderful ways.
As a new mother, I knew what a child was in a way that I had not before. I knew how fragile and innocent children are. And that someone could hurt them, that they could starve in a famine, or be injured by a bomb….well, I could not understand that and I couldn’t bear it and I wondered, as I never had before, what kind of world is this that allows it? How do we manage to live in it? How do we raise children in it?
These questions were haunting me and I had to find answers. So I set about trying to do that the only way I know how, by writing a story.
- Andi's life, in Revolution, revolves around her music. Besides writing, what else does your life revolve around?
- What are you working on now?
I hope you enjoyed this lovely interview with Jennifer Donnelly. Want more of her greatness? You could visit her on her website, check her out on Goodreads, and stalk her on Twitter. But don't forget to read my review of Revolution.