Episode 7

Creating a music icon and oral history narratives with Dawnie Walton

Dawnie Walton was born and raised in Florida, but now lives in Brooklyn New York with her husband. She earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2018 and has a journalism degree. She was formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly. Her debut novel, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev has been described as a “firecracker” and an “utterly fresh take on finding one’s voice, on systemic racism and sexism, on freedom of expression”. 

Our interview starts at 16 minutes. 

Michelle recommends:

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams

Caitlin recommends:

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Both are heartwarming and uplifting romances by two of our favourite contemporary writers. 

We both received PR copies from Harper Collins for review. 

In this interview, we talk about:

  • The oral history-style of narrative of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev and how this helps bring every character to life
  • How a music documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, sparked the idea for the novel
  • How Dawnie tapped into her love of music and the emotions of her favourite pieces to write music-related parts of the book
  • The real-life musical inspirations for the characters of Opal and Nev
  • The intersection of music, the music industry and racism
  • Dawnie’s career in journalism and how this influenced her writing style
  • The path to publication and Dawnie’s overwhelm at the incredibly good feedback ahead of her debut book’s publication
  • Hearing the story come to life through a full-cast audiobook (this comes after we officially end the interview, so listen right until the end)

Books and other things mentioned:

  • The Circle (UK)
  • 20 Feet from Stardom (documentary)

Follow Dawnie on Instagram @dawniewalton

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is available in paperback now in Australia, and hardback in June. 

In the UK, the eBook is available now and the hardback will be published on April 20.

The audiobook is available now. 

We both received copies of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev for review from Quercus UK. 

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.