Once you’ve done a panel presentation with someone while wearing a tiara, well, let’s just say it’s a bonding experience. That’s Erin Dionne, Deva Fagan, and me at the Bar Harbor Book Festival last fall. Today I’m catching up with Erin, author of Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies and The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. I asked her about some influences from the worlds of art and music.

First, here’s a little bit about Total Tragedy: Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the sixteenth century, that’s not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet’s genius sevenyear- old sister will attend middle school with her– and even worse when the Shakespeare project is announced and her sister is named the new math tutor. By the time an in-class recitation reveals that our heroine is an extraordinary Shakespearean actress, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she–like her family–is anything but average.

So, given that context, Erin, what’s Hamlet’s theme song?

I think “Stuck in the Middle With You”, a song from the 1972 band Stealers Wheel. It captures how Hamlet feels about being part of her family–trapped, but there’s no way she can get away from them.

Oh I love that song! Now I need to go listen to it.

Question two: Who/what is your favorite visual artist or favorite piece of art?

I’m a big Salvador Dali fan. His Surrealist images just blow me away, especially “The Persistence of Memory”.

I love the mood that permeates his pieces, so much so that I used them in TOTAL TRAGEDY. The kids have an art project that revolves around Surrealist paintings, and I asked one of my students to come up with lesson plans for that same project!

Thank you, Erin!

Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet is available now, and you should pick it up from your local independent bookseller. Erin (and I!) recommends the Book Rack in Arlington, MA. You can also look for it in your local library. If they don’t have it, request it!

Erin Dionne’s Admirations & Influences
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