Thursday, February 28, 2008

Interview with debut author DAPHNE GRAB:

How long have you been writing?

I wrote a lot in high school but then didn't write anything creative for over ten years. I had this idea that I wanted to be a writer but I could never come up with a story that I felt passionate about. Then, about five years ago, I happened upon some information on the MFA in creative writing at the New School here in NYC. On a whim I sent off for their catalogue and when I saw that they had a writing for children concentration I had one of those 'a-ha moments' where you know you've just encountered something that will change your life. Once I was in the program I started writing every day and have pretty much kept that up.

Why young adult?

I think all those years that I wanted to write but couldn't I was stuck because I was trying to think of adult stories. For whatever reason the stories I have are teen and middle grade. Somehow those years of my life are alive inside me and speak to me more clearly than any other period in my life.

ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK is your first novel, what sparked the idea?

Six years ago my dad was diagnosed with ALS and he died about six months later. Living with a sick parent was a profoundly difficult and life changing. After he was gone I had all kinds of feelings about it and a few years later, when I was at the New School, I wanted to channel those feelings into a character. Not just the hard stuff but also the parts that were beautiful and real about living with illness but still having the gift of that person in your life. And so Matisse was born.

Can you tell us how it went from idea to a published book?

I began ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK in my third semester at the New School. My writing teacher, Sarah Weeks, had us submit five pages of our manuscripts, plus a cover letter, to her editor at Harper, Jill Santopolo. It was a class exercise, not an official submission, so that we could get a feel for how our work might be received by an editor. Jill liked my pages so after I graduated I officially submitted to her. She liked the manuscript and ended up buying it.

Matisse is an interesting character. Can you describe her in three words?
Tough question! I'd say confident, strong and vulnerable.

Favorite thing about Matisse?

Her confidence. I was very insecure in high school and it was a lot of fun to write a character who believed so strongly in herself.

Interview by Lisa

January 2008

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