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The Schoolchildren of Kilkenny Put Helena Duggan in the Hot Seat

Posted on 16th August 2017 by Martha Greengrass
The author of our Children's Book of the Month for August, Helena Duggan is from Kilkenny, a medieval, haunted city in the south of Ireland, which was the inspiration for her novel, A Place Called Perfect. We asked the school children of Kilkenny to put some questions to Helena with some rather interesting results. Thanks for the great questions Kilkenny!
Where is Perfect?

Perfect is an imaginary place. I haven’t set it in a country or city so that means it can be anywhere. The layout of Perfect is based on a real place though – my hometown of Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. It’s a medieval city full of stone walls, winding lanes and underground tunnels, exactly as I imagine Perfect.

Do the names William and Violet have any significance?

I chose the name William because I thought it sounded noble. His surname, Archer, is stolen from the history of Kilkenny. The Archers were an important family of merchants. Violet is significant. Her full name is Violet Brown as I wanted her to have two sides to her character – an adventurous, imaginative one signified by the colour Violet, and a more analytical side represented by the colour Brown.

Why is Boy named Boy?

He’s an orphan, so I thought nobody in Perfect would care enough about him to give him a name!

Can you tell us what Violet looks like?

In my imagination Violet has brown wavy hair which she rarely brushes. Her skin is neither dark nor pale and is dotted with freckles over her nose and cheeks. She’s average height and skinny. She’s not a girly girl (that’s how she describes it in the book).

Has Violet any similarities to you?

She probably does. I was always a bit of a tomboy and didn’t wear dresses or skirts (apart from my school one which I was forced to wear) until I went to college. And I’ve also been told I have an overactive imagination at times!

Do you know any baddies like the Archer brothers?

No I don’t think so – and if I did I definitely wouldn’t admit that here or they’d come storming after me!

Will there be a sequel?

Yes. Perfect has a much longer story attached to it.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I got the idea when I bought a pair of antique round-rimmed glasses in Australia. I wanted to change the lenses so I could see through them, but the more I carried the glasses around with me the more I thought about them. They were pretty old so I imagined their previous owner must be dead. I began to wonder if all the memories of their owner might be locked inside the lenses. If I changed the lenses would I be getting rid of what was left of that person? The glasses were bifocals and I also used to think that maybe the bottom part of the lenses could see into another world. All of these ideas came together in a melting pot in my mind to form Perfect.

How long did it take you to write Perfect?

It took about 6 months to write the initial draft but the editing took much longer, like a million years!!! 

Is this your first book?

No. I wrote another before Perfect. It's titled A Load of Rubbish and is about a shoe named Seamus who ends up in a rubbish dump which had previously been deeply divided between two factions. Peace was fostered under the Triple R (Rats and Rubbish Reconciliation) Treaty but soon Seamus began to discover a world of dirty secrets and treachery. A Load of Rubbish is still sitting in my desk drawer attracting dust. Someday maybe I will do something with it! 

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