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Clare B. Dunkle (1964-) Biography

Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1964, in Fort Worth, TX; Education: Trinity University (San Antonio, TX), B.A. (Russian), 1985; Indiana University, M.L.S., 1989. Politics: Independent. Religion: Catholic.

Clare B. Dunkle


Writer, educator, and librarian. Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, associate professor and librarian, 1990-99; freelance author, 2001—.


Ramstein Officers Spouses Club.

Honors Awards

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 2004, for The Hollow Kingdom.


By These Ten Bones, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.


The Hollow Kingdom, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.

Close Kin, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

In the Coils of the Snake, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.


The Hollow Kingdom was adapted as an audiobook, read by Jenny Sterlin, Recorded Books, 2003. Close Kin was adapted as an audiobook, read by Jenny Sterlin, Recorded Books, 2004.

Work in Progress

The fantasy novel The Way of Water and the science-fiction novel Slices of Heaven.


An American-born author who now makes her home in Germany, Clare B. Dunkle is the author of the "Hollow Kingdom" fantasy trilogy, as well as a dark fantasy/horror novel titled By These Ten Bones. Consisting of the novels The Hollow Kingdom, Close Kin, and In the Coils of the Snake, the "Hollow Kingdom" trilogy follows two orphaned sisters as they are drawn from their homes in Regency England into a fantasy world where goblins threaten to imprison them. As Dunkle told a Publishers Weekly interviewer, penning the fantasy series allowed her to "focus on what happens when an ugly old man has a relationship with a beautiful young woman….Wefindit unacceptable, because we think love depends on chemistry. But it's worth telling our teens that love depends on respect, generosity, self-sacrifice and allowing the other person room for growth."

With their parents both dead, Kate and Emily are sent to a remote English estate called Hallow Hill, where they will live with their great aunts and an unpleasant cousin. When she believes that Emily has been kidnapped by goblins who live in the region's underground, Kate agrees to marry the goblin king Marak, who must take a human wife. Like Persephone, Kate will be forced to live underground forever, but she makes the sacrifice in order to save her sister. Despite his age and ghastly appearance, Marak soon proves to be an oddly attractive companion, and when the goblin kingdom is threatened by a powerful sorcerer, Kate discovers the depth of her true feelings for the king. With the help of the giant cat Seylin and her snake-like attendant Charm, she goes in search of the sorcerer and the goblins he has enslaved.

Praising The Hollow Kingdom as "a luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better," a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that Dunkle remains true to the inspiration of Victorian novels as well as to "archetypal themes about love and death" while also providing a captivating romance, evil villains, and surprising plot twists. "Kate is surely a heroine to be reckoned with," added School Library Journal reviewer Bruce Anne Shook, "and girls will relate to her predicament." The second volume of the trilogy belongs to Kate's sister, Emily, as well as to the tragic elf woman Sable, whose culture is in ruins, partly because of goblin aggression. The third volume, In the Coils of the Snake, brings the remnants of the elven population into contact with the goblins again, thus threatening another war.

Dunkle told Something about the Author: "Although I have been telling myself stories all my life, I never actually wanted to write books at all; in fact, the last thing I wrote before The Hollow Kingdom was a short story in seventh-grade creative writing class. For decades, my daydreams belonged exclusively to me, and I felt no desire to share them. But in June of 2001, my husband asked me to write him a story, and that got me hooked. Now I can't seem to stop writing."

Dunkle began The Hollow Kingdom in 2001, shortly after her husband's job relocated her family to Germany and her daughters decided to opt for life in a German boarding school as a way to immerse themselves in their new culture. "For the first time in my adult life, I had no full-time work to do," the former librarian explained to Smart Writers Journal interviewer Roxyanne Young, "and my brain promptly took a holiday. At the end of a week, I complained to my husband Joe that I was wasting all my time daydreaming. 'Write it down for me,' Joe said, so I did, sending each chapter off to the girls in a letter…. Nothing else got done that summer, let me tell you!" By the fall The Hollow Kingdom was sent off to a publisher, and Dunkle's second career as a fiction writer had begun.

Dunkle's second book in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy follows Emily and Seylin as they explore the worlds of dwarfs, elves and humans.

"Because I have had to bring my stories out of this intensely private daydream life into the light of day, I am very aware of books as communication," the author explained to SATA. "My books belong to readers just as much as they do to me. I try to find something in each story that I myself want to explore, some experience that will make me grow as a person, and I hope that readers, then will be able to grow through the stories as well. In the 'Hollow Kingdom' trilogy I have been exploring ideas of prejudice and race or cultural identity that became particularly important to me once we moved to Germany and I saw my own daughters adapting themselves successfully to a culture that was quite foreign to me.

"My early ideas of fantasy were strongly influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander, but they were influenced as well by myth and folklore from all over the world. Now that I write fiction, I have abandoned reading fiction altogether. I find so much richness in nonfiction to bring to my writing, from folklore and history to essays and memoirs. The truth really is stranger than anything we can dream up."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 608; October 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Close Kin, p. 322.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2004, Janice Del Negro, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 227; December, 2004, Timnah Card, review of Close Kin, p. 165.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 1223.

Locus, January, 2004, Carolyn Cushman, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 29; November, 2004, Carolyn Cushman, review of Close Kin, p. 31.

Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 66; December 22, 2003, "Flying Starts," p. 30.

School Library Journal, December, 2003, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 149; May, 2004, Sarah Flowers, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 92; October, 2004, Farida S. Dowler, review of Close Kin, p. 161.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2004, Stacy Dillon, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 58; December, 2004, Stacy Dillon, review of Close Kin, p. 402.


Clare B. Dunkle Web site, http://www.claredunkle.com/ (October 21, 2004).

Mythopoeic Society Web site, http://www.mythsoc.org/ (December, 2004), "Clare B. Dunkle: Award Acceptance Remarks."

Smart Writers Journal Online, http://www.SmartWriters.com/index.2ts?page=swjoctober2003/ (October, 2003), Roxyanne Young, interview with Dunkle.

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