Author Interview with Anne Dublin, author of The Baby Experiment

Author Interview with Anne Dublin, author of The Baby Experiment

Posted on May 16 by admin
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This Wendesday for our Ask an Author series, we caught up with Anne Dublin, whose book The Baby Experiment just realeased this week.

CS: Tell us about your book.

AD: The Baby Experiment: Johanna is a 14-year-old Jewish girl who lives in Hamburg, Germany in the early 18th century. She feels stifled by the daily drudgery of her life and dreams of seeing what lies outside the confines of the Jewish quarter. Johanna lies about her identity and gets a job as a caregiver at an orphanage. She discovers a secret experiment is taking place that results in the deaths of babies.

Deciding to kidnap one of the orphans, Johanna sets off for Amsterdam. She faces many dangers on her journey, including plague, bandits, storms, and not least of all, anti-Semitism. Johanna has a lot of courage and determination, but will it be enough to save the baby and reach her destination? Will she finally find a place where she can be free?

CS: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

AD: I read a newspaper article about a scientist who sought to determine if babies would speak if they had not been exposed to language. I’ve always been interested in the acquisition of language, and I thought this might be an interesting premise for a book.

CS: Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it.

AD: How does a person overcome obstacles in life? How can a person make a difference? I want my readers to be inspired by the characters’ actions and to feel that they, too, can make a difference in the world.

CS: How did you research your book?

AD: There were three main areas of research:

  • The acquisition of language, and especially about “wild children”—those children who, for one reason or another, weren’t exposed to language during their formative years.
  • Life in the early eighteenth century—food, clothing, transportation, politics, and religious attitudes.
  • Because the main character, Johanna, is Jewish, I also researched the cultural and religious life of Jewish people at that time in Europe.

CS: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

AD: My challenge was to create speech patterns for people from different levels of society. For example, Daniel the wagon driver’s speech was rougher than Johanna’s or the doctor’s.

CS: What is your new project?

I’m working on a novel about the Toronto dressmakers’ strike of 1931—44 Hours or Strike! I’m halfway through and my characters are leading the way. The process is nerve wracking, but exciting, too.

Anne Dublin is an award-winning author of historical fiction and biographies for young people. Her books include Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything, winner of the IODE Violet Downey Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award, and The Orphan Rescue, finalist for the U.S. National Jewish Book Award. She lives in Toronto.