Skip to content

Reinvention: An Interview with Susanne Dunlap, author of The Courtesan’s Daughter

Dunlap 1

Susanne Dunlap is the author more than a dozen historical novels for adults and teens. Her work has won and been nominated for many awards, including the Bank Street Books Children’s Book of the Year, the Utah Book Award, and the Missouri Gateway Readers’ Prize. Most recently, her novel The Portraitist won its category in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and The Paris Affair won first place in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for young adult fiction. Susanne earned her PhD in music history from Yale, and her BA and MA in musicology from Smith College. She lives and writes in Biddeford, Maine.

You can buy The Courtesan’s Daughter here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Actually, the title The Courtesan’s Daughter might have come before I even started writing the book! I had an idea about a courtesan in Paris who finds a way to escape—but her past follows her.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I loved my book cover so much from the very first time I first saw it! That’s what makes a book truly real. That, and holding the book in your hands. It never gets old. Never!

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I started writing historical fiction when it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to teach music history at college level—after eleven years in graduate school and a Yale PhD! I’ve always been a writer of sorts, but the impulse to write this kind of fiction came late in life. My first novel was published when I was fifty.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I’ve been an advertising copywriter and a performing arts nonprofit executive, I cofounded a tech startup, had a business buying and selling vintage clothing and textiles, and I was a ballet accompanist—I’ve reinvented myself so many times I’m starting to forget!

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I think working with a good editor is a huge benefit. It’s so important to have dispassionate, knowledgeable eyes on your work to make it the best it can possibly be.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I always hope my readers will learn a slice of history from reading my books—in this case, about the early film industry in New York. My perfect reader is someone who is curious about the past and loves compelling stories.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m currently tackling a dual-timeline novel set in the city I live in! Very early stages…

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Atmosphere Press has been professional, accessible, and I feel as though people at Atmosphere Press really care about my book. I think if you’re going the hybrid route, you really can’t do better than Atmosphere without spending a lot more money!

You can buy The Courtesan’s Daughter here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.