(Daphne Grab was one of our “Longstocking” presenters at last July’s conference. This interview is provided courtesy of Sarah Maury Swan.)
Daphne Grab was born in Rhinebeck, NY and is the author of “Alive and Well in Prague, NY”. When she is not on the road doing author visits, she’s at home with her husband, two kids, and her two cats. She was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions via email.
Q: What sparks an idea for a story? Someone you see on the street or something that happens to you, or something you read in the newspaper?
A: Any of the above! Sometimes it’s something I see or read or hear or just start wondering as I’m walking down the street. Inspiration can hit at any time, which is a pretty exciting thing.
Q: What do you do when you get a new idea? Write down a plotline or envision your MC or figure out where the story takes place?
A: I first start jotting down thoughts as they come to me, quick things about the character and story, scraps of scenes and dialogue. When I have a few pages of bits down, I start to put it together into an outline which is always my first step towards writing a book.
Q: How much time do you spend on story research and how specific do you get on details?
A: It depends but I think you need to do a fair amount of research and learn more than may show up in your book. Just knowing things informs the story and the way that you frame things, which can be one of the best ways to se up a story. Straight up details are important too but I think with something researched you have to be careful not to go overboard and say too much, just because you’ve learned it and may be excited about it. Any detail in there should be moving the story along, not just there because it’s interesting.
Q: Do you work on more than one story at a time?
A: Ideally no but sometimes yes.
Q: On average how many rewrites so you do?
A: Oh, lots! I tend to pump out a quick first draft and then spend forever revisiting it. I easily do 5-10 rewrites on any given book.
Q: Do you decide ahead of time whether you’re going to write in 3rd person or 1st?
A: Yes, but it can change if the story feels wrong in the perspective I’ve chosen. But generally a story comes to me with that as a part of it.
Q: Do you ever change from 1st to 3rd or vice versa?
A: I never have but who knows what could happen in the future!
Q: Do you consider what publisher you’re sending to before you write the story?
A: No, I think it’s my job to write and my agent’s job to figure out where a story may be best suited. She is very good at her job so it makes it easy to put that in her hands!
Q: Of course, if you’ve been working with one editor for a while, you’ll send it to her first. But what if you don’t think the story is right for her house?
A: More and more writers are at multiple houses and I can see benefits to that. I think in the end it depends on the author, how much she/he writes, how different the books are, etc. In some cases one house may meet all needs, in another case it may be best to be at more than one house.
EDITOR’S Q. What’s your new book about and when is it due out?
A: My next book is very different from my first; a fun summer romance called The Star Shack that is under my spiffy new pen name, Lila Castle. It’s a he said/she said about the would-be perfect couple who open an astrology booth on the boardwalk that helps everyone but them get together. It’s out in June with Sourcebooks and I worked on it with the wonderful Dan Ehrenhaft.
EDITOR’S Q. Why did you use a pen name for The Star Shack? And why that particular name?
A. This book is so different from my first that I wanted to be able to brand it differently, thus the pen name. I hope to be able to keep writing both kinds of books, the more literary, like Alive and Well, and the lighter romance, like The Star Shack.
I came up with the name Lila Castle from two of my favorite romances growing up, one a series of books, the other a movie. I am a child of the eighties so see if you can guess the books and movie the names come from!
EDITOR’S COMMENT. Since I am a child of the fifties, and my children were mostly grown in the eighties, I haven’t a clue what books and movie Daphne is talking about. Could someone please fill me in? Thanks, Sarah.