Welcome to the Spotlight: Daphne Bendis-Grab and The Girl In The Wall!

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I’m so thrilled to put the spotlight on Daphne Bendis-Grab and her new novel, The Girl in the Wall! Stayed tuned below to find out how you can win a free signed copy of this book!

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The Girl In The Wall by Daphne Bendis-Grab (Merit Press, 2012)

Sera isn’t happy about having to go to her ex-best friend’s 17th birthday party, but her father insisted. After being shunned by Ariel and the popular crowd for something she did, Sera knows the weekend long extravaganza at Ariel’s family estate will not be fun, but she is looking forward to the private concert by superstar Hudson Winters. Just as the party is getting started, armed mercenaries crash the party and hold the party hostage. As the body count rises, the gunmen demand to know to where Ariel has disappeared. Only Sera knows that the house has secret tunnels behind the walls. Will Sera and Ariel work together or against each other as they and their classmates fight for their lives?

What was the initial spark behind THE GIRL IN THE WALL and what was the journey to publication like?

My book ideas tend to start as what-ifs, like in the case of GIRL, what would happen if a posh birthday party, complete with private rock concert and best friend feud, was taken hostage.  I’ll be walking to yoga or waiting for the subway and a what-if will pop into my mind.  Sometimes it’s triggered by something I see, an outfit, a news headline, or a conversation snippet I overhear.  Other times it’s just the direction my thoughts go.  I’m always excited about a what-if but I have learned they aren’t always good story ideas; sometimes they are a fun premise that can’t really go anywhere interesting.  But in the case of GIRL, the more I thought it through, the more places I could see it going.  And that’s how it started!

When I was about halfway through the first draft my agent emailed and said she’d had a publisher request for a thriller and could I send her what I had written so far (she always knows what I am working on).  I did, we polished it up, I wrote up a synopsis of where it was going and we sent it off.  It got a few rejections (always so hard!) but there was positive response too and in the end we chose to go with Merit Press.  It’s been a great ride- I feel very lucky to be with my editor and the whole team at Merit!

Whew! This was a definite heart-stopping page-turner! Hostage situation, danger and death, mystery and intrigue! What was it like writing a thriller compared to the  your first novel, a YA contemporary? Any surprises while writing THE GIRL IN THE WALL?

ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK was a more personal story.  It was inspired by my dad’s battle with ALS and it drew from my own places of grief.  GIRL was very different- an idea that drew me in, that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  The emotions are real- fear, anger, helplessness, a crush in an inappropriate moment- but the circumstances aren’t anything I’ve ever actually experienced. It was an awfully fun book to write!

I think what surprised me was how hard it was to revise.  I wrote the first draft with joyful abandon but then had this manuscript of things that didn’t quite fit together as tightly as they needed to.  Lucky for me I have some awesome reader friends who helped get it in shape for my editor, who then helped turn it into a fully cohesive story.

Sera and Ariel had a long shared history before their falling out – the hidden walls being part of it. When you were a child, did you have a special secret hide-out? What was it and what made it special?

My first choice hideout was books- as a kid I spent half my time buried in a story.  But then in junior high my friend Lani and came up with an unusual secret hideout where we would go to read books together- my mother’s car.  It was parked at the end of our driveway, hidden from both street and the house by trees and bushes so it felt like our own little world.  We’d go in with snacks and books, turn it on so we could hear the radio and have the heat, crack the window so we weren’t poisoned and read for hours.  It wasn’t until the day we drained the car battery that my mom discovered what we were doing and out a quick stop to it.  We had to settle for my bedroom after that.

Debbi, thank you so much for having me on your fabulous blog!

Thank YOU, Daphne for stopping by!

Daphne Benedis-Grab earned an MFA from The New School in creative writing and her thesis became her first book for teens, Alive and Well in Prague, New York.  She has worked a number of jobs including buildings houses for Habitat for Humanity and teaching adult literacy classes.  She lives in New York City with her husband, two kids and a very spoiled cat.

For more about Daphne and her books, check out her web site and her Facebook page.

Win a signed copy of THE GIRL IN THE WALL!

Please follow the directions below (most of you know the drill)!

1. Comment on this post, and for fun, tell me where your childhood “secret” hide-out was. Mine was in my next door neighbor’s garage (she knew this). It was filled with old furniture and her childhood toys and clothes. I could spend hours in there, playing.

2. Leave your comment (and email address) by midnight EST Saturday, December 15th. The lucky winner will be announced on this blog and will be contacted by email on Tuesday, December 18th. Late entries will not be included in the drawing (sorry).

3. Entrants must have a U.S. or Canada mailing address.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

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7 responses »

  1. This sounds like a great book. My favorite place was my girlfriend’s bedroom, overlooking the entrance to a factory. We’d peek out at the people coming and going and then invent things about their lives and what was in their lunch boxes!

  2. I love an exciting read, and look forward to reading this. When I was very little my favorite hiding place was my grandmother’s empty blanket chest (empty because we were all visiting and used all the extra blankets). It is a small handmade wooden chest that now belongs to me. I can’t believe I once fit in it.

  3. I had a few but one of them was an old shed at the back of our backyard. It was locked tight but I figured out a way in through a window. I spent some time alone with my special stuff. It was a good place to go to get away from all my siblings. Thanks for the giveaway. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

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