We hope you are enjoying The King of Mulberry Street. If you can tear your eyes away from the adventures of Dom, Gaetano, and Tin Pan Alley, take a few minutes to read our interview with author Donna Jo Napoli. We hope learning more about her makes you even more excited to meet her and ask her questions on December 2nd.
DCHM: What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?
DJN: I was a tomboy—playing outside a lot and getting my clothes very dirty. But in there I got my first glasses—and I had been seeing very poorly for a long time, so the glasses changed my behavior. I took to climbing a lot lower in trees (now that I could see how high up I was) and squirreling away on the lower branches with a book.
DCHM: What is your favorite time period in American history? Why?
DJN: Pioneer times intrigue me. I love the idea of being independent—growing your own food, making your home and clothes and tools. It was a very harsh time, I know, but for me it seems a time of great satisfactions. What could feel better than cuddling down under a blanket you had woven?
DCHM: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at the New-York Historical Society?
DJN: I haven’t been to New-York Historical, but I’ve visited the website and I’m planning on visiting the museum when I come for this event. The museum is what draws me the most. I love artifacts. There are so many museums in NYC that I have not visited, but among those I have, the Tenement Museum is my favorite. And I get the sense from New-York Historical’s website that many of the artifacts in the Museum will be just as fascinating.
DCHM: What is your favorite place in New York City? Why?
DJN: My son lived in Greenpoint for five years, so I love that area.
DCHM: What made you want to write The King of Mulberry Street?
DJN: My grandfather was a stowaway, and he came to NYC and lived with other homeless children. He made his living through selling sandwiches, very much like Dom does in the novel. So I wanted to write his story. But my grandfather was not a nice man in many ways, and I wanted my main character to be a nice person, so I made Dom be the person I wanted him to be—nothing like my grandfather except in his ingenuity.
DCHM: What 3 words best describe The King of Mulberry Street?
DJN: My words to describe it might not match a reader’s words to describe it. I see it as: factually-based, as much character-driven as situation-driven, and hopeful (despite how harsh the times were).