Shootin’ the Breeze with Daphne Benedis-Grab

Food For Thought, Interviews

A few years back, when I was just starting Grad school, and started dipping my toes into the world of teen books a book titled Alive and Well in Prague, New York was one of the first teen books I read.

Picking it up blindly from my local library’s shelf, I read Alive and Well in Prague, New York within a few short days. Besides really loving the coming of age/finding yourself storyline, what I remember really loving about the book was the writing.

From the moment I closed the back cover of Daphne Benedis-Grab’s debut, I knew she was an author that I would definitely want to read more from. So I waited, and I waited patiently.

Waiting paid off, for both me, and for you readers.

I had the chance to read this great book, and now readers you get the chance to get to know author Daphne Benedis-Grab a little bit better.

Daphne was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to anser a few questions for The BookBandit Blog and for all it’s readers!

BookBandit Blog (BB): Can you tell me about yourself, and your journey as a writer?

Daphne Benedis-Grab (DBG): I always knew I wanted to be a writer but somehow I could never think of exactly the story I wanted to tell.  Meanwhile, while still in my twenties and then into my thirties, I couldn’t seem to stop reading YA books. I would hide them in my lap on the subway, hoping no one would wonder while the lady well past her teen years was still indulging in teen books.  But then one day I was glancing through the acknowledgments of a book I had just finished and enjoyed, and I saw that the author had gotten an MFA at The New School.  I decided an MFA was just what I needed to find my story and when I got their catalog I saw that in addition to a concentration in adult fiction, they also had one in writing for children and teens.  Bells went off and I realized the stories I had to tell were teen stories- and once I figured that out, I couldn’t stop coming up with story ideas!  I will also tell you that I still read YA on the subway, now held up proudly for anyone to see!

BB: What was the inspiration behind The Girl in the Wall?

DBG: I am generally inspired by my overly active imagination.  I am always wondering “what if.”  That is not so good when I am alone at home and scare myself, but it can be a great way to come up with a story idea.  In the case of The Girl in the Wall I started thinking about what would happen if a party was taken hostage, and once the idea was born I couldn’t stop playing it through, thinking about what would happen next.

BB: The Girl in the Wall is told from two different perspectives – Ariel and Sera’s perspectives. Which of the two was the easiest perspective to write from? Which was the hardest? Why?

DBG: I think they were each challenging and easy in different ways.  Sera is more like me so her voice came easily and I never had to think about her reactions to things.  Ariel was more of a reach but she is sassy and badass which is super fun to write!

BB: If The Girl in the Wall were to be made into a movie, who would you want to see cast as Ariel? As Sera? As Hudson? As Nico?

DBG: I adore Pretty Little Liars so I’d love to see Ashley Benson as Ariel and Lucy Hale as Sera.  For Hudson Logan Lerman- I thought he was awesome in Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And Diego Boneta for Nico- amongst other things he guest starred on PLL.

BB: Do you have any project you’re working on that you can share?

DBG: Right now I am writing a book that is the complete opposite of The Girl in the Wall.  It’s a middle grade mystery centering around a Christmas tradition in a small town- it will be out in fall 2014.

BB: What are you currently reading?

DBG: I am about to start Boy 21 by Matthew Quick.  I know I am going to love it because his book Sorta Like a Rockstar is one of my all time favorites.

BB: Any advice you can give to aspiring writers?

DBG: Write what you know and what you love.  Don’t be afraid of criticism it will make your writing stronger.  Revision is a part of the process- a first draft is never perfect so don’t try to make it so- just get your story out.  And last but most important- enjoy it as you go!

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