Roman à clef at Play: An Interview With Author, Donna M. Zadunajsky

As an undergrad, I listened to my professors gush about “The Rape of the Lock” and Dharma bums–famous roman à clef titles of the serious literary wold. From the minute I learned what roman à clef  was, I was intrigued with the idea of writers disguising their real lives within the folds of their work and so, it’s refreshing to note that Donna M. Zadunajsky, a contemporary author, continues to write in this tradition.

Read on for the interview but definitely check out her latest novel, Hidden Secrets (Secrets and Second Chances) (Volume 2), for a phenomenal adventure that explores the complexity of the relationships we all share with others.

 And expect a review of this novel soon!

Q: What inspired you write this book? I started out writing a book about three best friends, but after writing 50,000 words, there was no way I could finish the book the way I was writing it. Each character had their own story to tell, so I decided to break them up into a series of books related only by the character being written in the book before it.

Alexis in Family Secrets, is my best friend Jill in real life. She chose the character’s name and career. Carla in Hidden Secrets is me with my life as a school teacher, and some real life events intertwined in the story. In book 3–that I’m writing now–is my best friend Angie, known as Ashley.

I would say that the question would be, what inspired me to write this series, lol.

Q: What challenges did you have while writing it? Making sure everything fit together in the end. I had to make sure that Carla’s husband and the timelines matched with the story. I had to draw a graph and write down dates about what happened so that further in the book the reader wouldn’t question my dates.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)? That’s a good question.  I would have to say I want my readers to feel satisfied and that the story is complete with the ending filling in all the gaps. I do like to add a little twist at the end of my books to surprise the reader. I don’t want my readers feeling like they’ve already read a book similar to mine.

Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in? My all time favorite movie and book is Anne of Green Gables. The location and people would be to me, an amazing place to be. It looks so beautiful and calming there and I just love the characters.

Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do? Three days a week I go to pilates before writing in the morning. I read, clean the house, do my daily chores like taking care of the pets; we have two dogs and two cats. I have a fifteen year old daughter who consumes my time after she gets home from school. I also work at a veterinary three days a week in the evening, so I can write in the morning. I also clean other people’s homes in the afternoon on various days in the month. So, I guess you can say that my writing comes first and then everything else comes after I have written some words. I love to keep myself busy.

Q: What else have you written? What else do you write? I started out writing seven children’s books, which are about my daughter and her life journeys. I accomplished and published my first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012, and then went into writing my second novel Not Forgotten, which was published late Spring for 2013 and is now owned by Custom Book Publishing.

With my daughter entering Junior High, I went into writing about some true events in my first novella, Help Me!, which is a subject about suicide, cutting, and bullying.

My third novel Family Secrets: Secrets and Second Chances, is first in a series I’m writing, and have recently published book 2, Hidden Secrets.

I have written 7 children’s books, 4 novels, and 2 novellas.

Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?

I write in the office that my husband and I share. When he’s at work and my daughter’s at school the house is quiet and it’s just me and my imaginary friends. Absolute quietness is what I love and need in order to write.

Q: Of all the character’s you have written, do you have a favorite? That’s another good question. To be honest it is actually the character I’m working on now. Her name is Lily, she’s 5 years old. She’s a smart little girl for her age, and I can actually see her in her very own book in the near future. In all of her scenes, my heart wraps around her and feels everything she feels and goes through. I absolutely loved creating her.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally? When I was 13-14 years old. I couldn’t stop reading Stephen King books. I could always come up with bizarre stories, but just never pursued the writing craft until I was 33 years old. My daughter inspired me and I started writing about her adventures that she and I would go on. My passion was always to write mystery novels, but I also like writing young adults books as well. That is something I started getting into last year when I wrote about teen suicide and bullying. I have written a second book in the Help Me! series titled Talk to Me,  which has been selected as a Finalist in an unpublished contest. The winner will be revealed on September 15th in Denver, Colorado, which I’ll be.

I have been writing for at least 8 years.

Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now? I do believe that printed books will still be around because it has become more popular lately. A couple of years ago I would have told you that it wouldn’t exist because I read nothing book ebooks, but as of this year, I’d say I like printed books a lot more now.

I hope you enjoyed this interview! Again, catch her novel here. Follow her on Twitter @72Zadunajsky and find out what she’s currently working on by visiting her blog at


    1. E says:

      Freddy, when are you going to let me interview you? Lol 🙂


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