Friday, March 31, 2023

Q&A with Eileen Joyce Donovan




Eileen Joyce Donovan is the author of the new historical novel The Campbell Sisters. Her other books include A Lady Newspaperman's Dilemma. She lives in Manhattan.


Q: What inspired you to write The Campbell Sisters, and how did you create your characters Helen, Carolyn, and Peggy?


A: I was originally inspired by a story my grandmother told me about her eloping with my grandfather, since her parents emigrated from England and his from Ireland. They knew their parents would never approve of the marriage so they eloped.


I also didn’t want this book to just be about Helen, not my grandmother’s name, so I invented a family for her with three sisters who could play a role in her story and have their own stories as well.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic among the three sisters?


A: I think they are very close, but as three independent women with very different personalities, they often clash. Although they always come back together at some point.

Q: Did you need to do much research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I did have to do some research to learn about women in medicine in the 1950s and, of course, names of restaurants, nightclubs, Stillman’s Gym, the history of The Players Club, and Gramercy Park/Edwin Booth. Growing up in New York City I already had a feel for places in the city and knew something about almost all of them, so that made things easier for me.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I guess I’d like readers to admire and respect the struggles women faced, even in the 1950s, in the country’s largest most cosmopolitan city. Not all women lived a Father Knows Best life. And if they didn’t want that, they had to be very strong to pursue their dream.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Something very different for me. I’m writing/editing (my first draft is finished) a contemporary romance. It started out as a short story, to keep up my writing routine, while I continued research for my next historical novel. But I was having fun writing it and before I knew it, it had morphed into a novel.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: In February, my essay, “A Cat Named Cat,” was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul, Lessons Learned from My Cat edition. And my short story, “A Stranger in My Own City,” was included in Silent Spark Press’s Exemplary Short Stories, Volume 13, recently released.


I’m continuing to write and once my current manuscript is ready to submit, and hopefully find an agent, I’ll have to decide which of the many stories buzzing around in my head will finally make it to paper.


And anyone who would like a free copy of my novella, The Crossing, can sign up for my newsletter at


Thanks for the interview, Deborah. A pleasure as always.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Eileen Joyce Donovan.

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