Mourning Dove: An Interview with the Author

At the start of 2018, I vowed to expand my reading horizons and try books I wouldn’t have previously considered. As if by fate, I spotted a sign up form for a Book Tour for Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton, which couldn’t be further from my usual reading material. But as soon as I read the blurb, I knew I had to try it. I was also eager to talk to Claire and find out what inspired such an intense, unusual coming-of-age story.

Read on to see what Claire had to say!

Hi Claire! What inspired you to write this book?

I am fascinated with family dynamics. I am intrigued by the idea of cause and effect within a family structure, and how it can come to be that siblings who share a history can turn out so differently. And I have a lifelong appreciation for the ways and means of the American South. I’ve heard it said that the South is the last romantic place in America, and I believe this is true. The customs, traditions and social mores of the South set parameters that can be stifling, so I wanted to tell a story about two siblings who come to the South as outsiders, which gave me the freedom of objectivity in writing about Southern nuances in Mourning Dove.

When people think of the Deep South of the US in the 1970s, often they have negative connotations. However, Mourning Dove shows the other side of that coin, where there’s elegance and intellect. Was it important to you to avoid the cookie-cutter image of the South, and show that there are two sides to every story?

Yes, and the particular side of the coin in Mourning Dove is well intentioned, for it aims for civility. Manners and form set the guidelines for civility, and there is much to be said for this keeping everyone in check. My question in Mourning Dove concerned the price of this civility. What is suppressed, when everyone employs denial in the interest of keeping things on an even keel? What are the long-range repercussions, when one adheres to short-range duty and appearances?

What made you decide to have your main characters as outsiders struggling to fit into your environment as opposed to having main characters from the South trying to fit in elsewhere?

I grew up in Memphis, so I felt that I could write about what made it unique. That Millie and Finley Crossan are outsiders gives them laser-sharp objectivity into the specifics of Memphis. I think the South as a culture is very specific in that it is perceived as a culture, first and foremost.  Much is built on charm and social customs comprised of etiquette and social niceties, and there is a pride in tribal mentality that I find beautiful.  People know who they are in Memphis. They have a strong sense of belonging. It’s nice to feel certain of one’s place in the world. Because I think the South is misunderstood by outsiders, I wanted to write about what was good about the region. People mean very well in the South, as a general community.

If you could describe the book in four words, what would you choose and why?

Cause and effect dynamic. Four words, precisely! I wrote Mourning Dove as a case in point, which was to say that it is our foundation in life that sets the stage and therefore explains a lot regarding the choices we make along life’s riddled path.

If you were asked to sort Millie, Finley and their mother into their Hogwarts houses, what would they each be in and why?

All would be in Gryffindor! They are slightly conservative, by the book people, who adhere to a code of honor for its own sake.

Thanks for talking to me, Claire!

Thank you! I loved these questions!

You can find out more about Claire and Mourning Dove here, and follow her on Twitter here!

Which book opened your eyes to something new, whether it’s new communities, new lifestyles or new sorts of people? Let me know in the comments!

Are you an author who would like to be featured? Get in touch! 🙂




  1. Roxie
    July 12, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    I love how thoughtful your questions are. This sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

    Roxie |

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 12, 2018 / 8:47 pm

      Aww, thanks so much Roxie! 😘

  2. eviebraithwaite
    July 12, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    One of my goals for the year is also to read a diversity of genres! This book sounds so interesting, I’d love to learn more about the South! Great interview – thanks for sharing!

    Evie x |

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 12, 2018 / 9:04 pm

      That’s what I’m aiming for this year too, Evie!
      Yeah, give it a shot, definitely! Have you read anything interesting this year so far?
      Thanks so much, lovely! 😘

      • eviebraithwaite
        July 13, 2018 / 6:41 am

        One of my favourite books of the year has to be Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, the world-building and characters were amazing! Definitely a new fantasy favourite of mine! 💖

        • rhiannacampbell
          July 13, 2018 / 8:58 pm

          Oh, I’ve been meaning to read that! I’ve heard so many good things! And the cover is stunning too! I’ll definitely have to pick it up! 😘

  3. July 12, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    Had to visit your blog and omg it’s so visual and lovely content too! Keep it up! <3

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 12, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      Aww, thank you so much! You’ve made my day! 😘

  4. July 12, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Ooh I’ve not heard of this book but I’m definitely intrigued, I’m all for anyone who would be in Gryffindor, what a great question!
    Sophie – x

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 12, 2018 / 9:09 pm

      Haha, yes, it’s a sign of good character, right?! 😂 Thanks for commenting, Sophie! X

  5. July 13, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    I love these questions! I think I might put this book on my to buy list – I want to try and read things outside of my comfort zone, because the times when I’ve done this, I’ve found that I really enjoy myself. Great interview!

    Beka |

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 13, 2018 / 9:02 pm

      Thanks Beka! Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do this year! I think I might try The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley too!
      Thanks a lot Beka 😘

  6. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins
    July 20, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    I’m really loving how many (for lack of a better word) “alternative” stories of the American South are coming out lately. I feel like, traditionally, the South is represented as super-romantic (say, Gone With The Wind), or gothic and exotic (like As I Lay Dying), or as kind of backwards/stupid – so seeing more and more stories come out that really examine the complexities of this part of the world. Mourning Dove sounds like it’s really contributing to that movement!

    • rhiannacampbell
      July 26, 2018 / 4:07 pm

      Yes, that’s very true actually! Yeah, it’s always kind of romanticised or the complete opposite end of the spectrum! This is definitely not. It feels real, and not kind of fethishised like it sometimes can be!

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