If you’re a mega YA fan like us, you’ve heard the deafening buzz around Julie Murphy‘s Dumplin’, out next week. And we are here to tell you the hype is well worth it for this RT Top Pick! Willowdean is a protagonist for the ages, and we just know you’re going to love her. So we pestered Julie with questions, because we wanted to know more, more, more! We talked beauty pageants, drag queens and the almighty Dolly Parton. We also have an awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post, be sure to check it out!
Dumplin’ has been getting so much well-deserved buzz (and a movie deal)! How does it feel now that the book is finally being released into the world?
Julie: I’m so excited to see this book release. Writing it was such a cathartic experience, and my greatest hope is that it fosters discussions about bodies and self-acceptance. Of course I would love for readers to fall in love with the characters and the setting and everything that makes this Dumplin’ a book, but most of all I want it to spark a conversation, because it’s one we should have started having a long time ago.
Dumplin’ centers around, in part, a small-town pageant. What kind of research did you do to get the event just right?
Julie: I’m not originally from Texas, but I did grow up here and pageants are very much a norm. I know there are pageants everywhere, but I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know someone who was in a pageant, so finding people to interview was never a problem. Also, if I’m being honest, YouTube was a major help. I watched lots of pageant tutorials and interviews with contestants. Disclaimer: I can’t say that this is a fact about all pageants and contestants, but I spoke with one former beauty queen who confessed to practicing her “Crown Cry” (the moment when a queen is crowned and she can’t hold back the tears) just as much as her actual talent. “If you’re gonna cry, you gotta cry pretty,” she told me.
Are you a Dolly Parton fan like Willowdean?
Julie: I have always been a huge Dolly Parton fan, but in the past it was more due to her films than her music. My love affair with Dolly began with Steel Magnolias. I wanted more than anything to sit in that salon as she spouted her wisdom. But over the last few years, I’d started to add more Dolly to my playlist and then Dumplin’ turned my fandom into an obsession. I think my favorite thing about Dolly is her business savvy. She blazed a trail for female artists today who aren’t afraid to demand more of the business and that’s incredible. Girls are so often taught that money is a dirty word, but Dolly knows her brand and that it’s worth something. I also love how unabashed she is with her body and her wardrobe, of course.
What’s your favorite Dolly Parton song?
Julie: “Jolene” is always classic, but my absolute favorite would have to be “Little Sparrow.” It always has me in tears.
Dumplin’ also has drag queens! What drew your interest to them?
Julie: I think my obsession with drag queens was cemented before I even knew what one was. I remember being a little girl and seeing The Little Mermaid. Ariel was great, but Ursula won my heart. When I was older and found out she was inspired by Divine, one of the greatest drag queens of all time, I fell down the rabbit hole. Divine will always be my first role, but some of my current favorites from RuPaul’s Drag Race would have to be Adore Delano, Bianca DelRio, Ginger Minj, Sharon Needles and Jinx Monsoon.
What’s your favorite line from Dumplin’?
This is a hard one, but I’d have to go with one of these two: “I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.” Or: “There’s something about swimsuits that make you think you’ve got to earn the right to wear them. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.”
The Dumplin’ cover is wonderful. How did it come about?
Julie: Isn’t it so great? Harper always does such amazing covers, but I was still nervous about what they might come up with. When they presented the initial concept to me, we played around with different dress colors and quickly decided that red was the way to go. I think there were a few other concepts, but honestly, everyone was so head over heels in love with this one that nothing else stood a chance. I pretty much cried with relief when I saw the first comp. I immediately fell in love with her rolls, curvy hips, and triumphant pose. We tweaked a few things, but it was without a doubt something that felt iconic.
And now, for the giveaway!
This awesome giveaway pack includes: a signed advanced copy of Dumplin’, a tiara, heart-shaped sunglasses, red lollipops, bookmarks and stickers, a magic eight ball pen and a Dumplin’ lapel pin. U.S. residents only, please. Contest closes September 15, aka Dumplin’ Day!
Dumplin’ hits stores September 15, and you can get your copy on Amazon, Barnes Noble, Kobo or iBooks, or buy a copy from your neighborhood bookstore on IndieBound. For more most exellent YA, visit our Everything Young Adult page!