Interview with Susanne Dunlap + Giveaway for Listen to the Wind

Hello dear readers! Today on the blog I am super excited to be hosting Susanne Dunlap's Listen to the Wind blog tour! Susanne graciously answered some questions for me and we have a chance for you to win a copy of the book!

Enjoy the interview!

Hello Susanna and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Listen to the Wind!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Hi Amy! I’m so pleased to be here. I write historical fiction that explores women’s role in history, either as famous people or as ordinary people trying to navigate difficult historical times. I write in lots of different periods, from medieval (like Listen to the Wind) to twentieth century (Anastasia’s Secret).

What inspired you to write Listen to the Wind?

In graduate school for music history I learned about the extraordinary history of the women troubadours, or trobairitz, in Languedoc in the 12th and 13th centuries and they fascinated me. From there, I discovered the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusades and I was hooked.

What research did you undertake when writing Listen to the Wind?

So much! I read what books I could find on the subject—the trobairitz aren’t written about very much, but the Cathars have spawned a whole industry of historical and speculative books. Perhaps most importantly, I traveled to southern France and climbed up to the ruins of the famous Cathar castles. It was eerie and sad and inspiring all at the same time.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Listen to the Wind?

I hope readers will develop an interest in these fascinating times and explore the history on their own—and I hope they’ll want to read the next book in the trilogy!

What was your favorite scene to write?

I think the scene where Azalais has to defend the castle was my favorite.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Hmmm. I’m not sure. Perhaps the scene at Montpezat’s death bed.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to write a Nancy Drew style mystery when I was about 8. Then piano took over my creative instincts for a while. A high school English/drama teacher I adored told me before I graduated that I had great ideas but I didn’t know how to write, so when I went to Smith I took an expository writing course and that was sorted out, LOL! In my twenties living in London I was besotted with the Bloomsbury set and the redolence of literary history everywhere, and tried to write then. Terrible, pointless stream-of-consciousness stuff. Then I was writing advertising copy for about 10 years, after which I went to graduate school and wrote academic stuff and got lured into history’s snares. This is a long answer to a simple question, but I don’t think I really knew I was a writer until I wrote my first novel that was published when I was 50. I had a lot of life and career changes, triumphs and disappointments, and learning—always learning—before I settled into realizing that writing was what I had been working toward all that time.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I get up at 5am, and after I’ve done the morning things—dressing, taking my dog Betty out, making a cup of tea—I sit down at my laptop, usually by 6am. That’s my best time to work, for about 2 hours until I have to go to work for a normal 8.5-hour day. We have half an hour for lunch, so I usually sneak 20 minutes of some kind of writing in then. Forget evenings! Even if I didn’t have a significant other I wanted to spend a bit of time with, my brain is mush and I’m in bed by about 9pm. On weekends, I write all sorts of times. Early in the morning, then around chores and social occasions. I’ll be unemployed by the end of June (company I work for is ceasing operations). I’m looking for another job, but secretly hoping I don’t get one for at least a month so I can do tons of writing.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

My greatest challenge as a writer is not rushing, not being impatient. I want to get the story down, figure it out. Learning how to edit, the deep craft stuff that’s so important, is an ongoing process. I’ve now transitioned to a process where the initial draft is more or less torture (perhaps why I’m so eager to get it over with), and I love the revising and editing.

And of course, having self-confidence is always a challenge. Feeling worthy. Believing that people will want to read what I’ve written in the end. I think I’m always still surprised when they do!

Who are your writing inspirations?

I think my writing inspirations are, honestly, my hard-working novelist friends and acquaintances who keep going through their own disappointments and triumphs.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I honestly can’t remember!

What is the last historical novel you read?

The last one I finished was Pam Jenoff’s THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS. I’m currently reading Kris Waldherr’s THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS. Both wonderful!

What are three things people may not know about you?

1. I own well over a hundred pairs of earrings.
2. I used to accompany ballet classes to put my dancer daughters through ballet school.
3. I have ten—soon to be eleven—grandchildren and step-grandchildren scattered around the world from Austin, Texas to Hong Kong.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

The opportunity to learn and to bring a historical time/place to life in a way that immerses readers in it. Just losing myself in a period and inhabiting the characters.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I don’t gravitate to any particular period. I’m more interested in whatever story fascinates me, and good writing. Has to be good writing!

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Go on long bicycle rides (25 miles is the average), read, work in the garden in the summer, text with my daughters and granddaughters.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m about to start editing the next book in the trilogy, but I also have a nearly completed novel about three real-life women artists in 18th-century Paris, before and during the Revolution.

Thank you so much for having me here! It’s been fun answering your questions.

Thank you, Susanne! It was a joy to have you here and I can't wait to read Listen to the Wind!

Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Bellastoria Press
eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages

Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval

Sent away from their families for their own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azalaïs become separated when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie's Voice and Liszt's Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician's Daughter, Anastasia's Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that's a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 13
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Tuesday, May 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, May 15
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 16
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, May 17
Review at Bookish Sarah
Review at Comet Readings
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 20
Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 21
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, May 22
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 23
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, May 24
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 27
Review at Macsbooks
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, May 28
Review at Coffee and Ink
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Review & Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals


During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Listen to the Wind

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