YEM Author Interview: Pintip Dunn and Love Dunn chat about writing their book The Lotus Flower Champion together

Pintip and Love Dunn are the authors of The Lotus Flower Champion. The Lotus Flower Champion follows what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Thailand. The novel explores the strange and sometimes wondrous abilities found in Thai folktales. YEM was able to speak with Pintip and Love about what it was like to work together, best memory they had while writing, and any advice they have. 

Young Entertainment Mag: Where did the idea for the two of you to write a book together come from?

Pintip Dunn and Love Dunn: Several things! First, Love is a very prolific writer. She has written 14 manuscripts to date, and she writes very fast and has a natural, compulsively readable voice. Second, we are close to P.C. and Kristin Cast, and they are the model and inspiration for what a mother-daughter writing duo should be! The exact moment we decided to write together came, however, when Love was gushing to Pintip about Tracy Wolff’s Crave. She had *so* many imaginative ideas about paranormal creatures that Pintip knew she could never have in a million years — and then it struck Pintip like a lightning bolt that this could be a very strong and rewarding partnership. 

YEM: What was the process of working together like?

Pintip and Love: Love wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and then Pintip revised that draft. We loved working together! It was so fun and enriching and an experience that we both will never forget. However, there were definitely times when Pintip had to deliberately pull back from being the “parent” in the partnership and allow Love’s voice and ideas to flourish as an equal co-author. 

YEM: What was the best part of working together?

Pintip and Love: We are very close — and always have been. Our mother-daughter bond is extremely strong, and we are best friends, as well as parent and child. Working together just added another dimension to our relationship. It was such a gift to be able to create this beautiful story together — and a tangible testament to the love we have for each other. 

YEM: Where did the inspiration for The Lotus Flower Champion come from?

Pintip and Love: The inspiration for this story came nine years ago, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014. The Lotus Flower Champion is our answer to what happened to all those people. The story idea became more complicated by our interest in Thai folktales – and more layered still when we decided to tell the story with a heroine who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, which mirrors Love’s own struggles with this mental health condition.

YEM: As mother and daughter were there times when you had to consciously decide to not speak about writing when you were hanging out with each other?

Pintip and Love: Yes, absolutely! Love was so excited that she wanted to talk about the story all the time — and many times, Pintip would say, “I’m exhausted. Can we talk about this some other time?” Pintip usually tries to separate her work and family time, and here, there was definitely a blurring of the lines. 

YEM: What is your best memory you have together from writing the book?

Pintip and Love: They were all so great! We had many memorable moments, such as walking on the beach and talking, going on 8-hour road trips and brainstorming, doing our copy edits at Tatte Bakery and Cafe! Our favorite memory, however, is during the summer when Love and Pintip would compete in writing sprints every day. Whoever wrote the most words that day would win a rubber duckie from our collection of adorably costumed rubber duckies (from princesses to unicorns to doctors). To Pintip’s pride and dismay, Love would win 99 percent of the time. 

YEM: What do you hope readers can take away from reading The Lotus Flower Champion?

Pintip and Love: It was very meaningful for Love to write about a heroine with OCD for the first time. Love’s struggle with this disorder has been long and oftentimes lonely, as she did not always know others who suffered from the same condition. We hope that this story will make others who also struggle with OCD feel less alone. It is so vastly important for young people to see themselves reflected in stories, and we hope that anyone who has felt a little bit different, for whatever reason, can find a bit of themselves in Alaia. 

YEM: Do you have any advice for those who want to become writers?

Pintip and Love: Persevere! Publishing is a long, hard road that does not get any easier just because you’ve published a book. But if writing is something that you love, something that you know in your heart that you can never be happy without, then keep at it! Pintip was rejected 150 times before she published her first novel. If she had given up after any one of those times, she wouldn’t be where she is today. 

YEM: What is the best part of writing for a young adult audience?

Pintip and Love: We both adore young adult books. In particular, we love how these stories challenge the characters to be the best version of themselves. In writing these books, we likewise motivate ourselves to be the best versions of us. 

YEM: Is there a quote or scene that is both of your favorites?

Pintip and Love: There is a scene at the very end of the book that makes us both cry. It is very clear which one it is once you read the book! We feel like this scene embodies the love that a mother and daughter have for one another. 

YEM: Who are some of each of your writing inspirations?

Pintip and Love: We each have books that inspired us to be the kind of writer we hope to be. For Pintip, it is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, which she incidentally re-read just this past weekend. This was the book that made her realize that she was meant to write young adult fiction. For Love, it is I Will Always Write Back, by Martin Ganda, Caitlin Alifirenka, and Liz Welch.

YEM: Do you have any plans to continue writing together in the future?

Pintip and Love: Yes! We are working on our next co-authored project together, which we hope we will be able to tell you about very soon! 

Pintip’s next novel will be Seasick, a YA thriller that she co-authored with the incomparable Kristin Cast. Seasick will be released in June 2024.