Saturday, December 8, 2012

Guest Post: Daphne Benedis-Grab, The Girl in the Wall + Giveaway

When Your Book is Called a Bloodbath
By Daphne Benedis-Grab,
Author of The Girl in the Wall (Merit Press) 
When the reviews began to come in for my new book, The Girl in the Wall, they all had one thing in common: they called my book violent. Anyone who's read the book would probably just nod at that but somehow it caught me by surprise. I mean, I was raised by peace-loving, hippie leaning parents who had me marching in peace demonstrations when I was a kid. How could I write something that every review across the board deemed violent?
After giving it some thought I've realized that the answer lies in the story and in what I believe about story telling. I set up a premise where hostages were taken and when you have high stakes, you get high drama. That can mean incredible moments of character realization, breakthroughs in relationships, breathless moments of survival and tension that can be sliced with a knife. When you go to that place of high stakes, your drama can't all be the happy kind. If you go there, to the dark place where lives are at risk, you really have to go there. That means that with your highs you get your lows and with certain kinds of stories, that means violence. Not violence for the sake of being sensational or shocking, but violence because it is an inevitable part of the premise you've created.
This might just be me but I do not believe that final battle scenes, the climactic kind that the entire story has lead up to, can realistically take place without some kind of loss. When Harry and friends battled the Death Eaters and Voldemort, we lost people we loved. Which is how it is in a battle for the soul of the world. Or at least how I believe it should be. In The Lord of the Rings there isn't physical death in that final battle scene but a part of Frodo, an important part, does die and alter him forever. So that counts. If you set the stakes high, there is deep, life changing loss; it's the trade off for the drama.
I've read a lot of books that haven't gone there. The author couldn't bear the loss and took it easy on characters. I so understand that -- no one wants to kill off a character she or he's breathed life into. And it's not like I want to see characters I've come to love die. But when you don't sacrifice characters, I think you sacrifice the story. All of a sudden those high stakes feel like a cheat, like an easy way to get the highs of the drama without suffering any of the lows. And to me that just doesn't feel real.
So somehow in trying to serve the story in the best way I knew how, I ended up writing something that's well, violent. I hope when people read my book that the violence doesn't feel overwhelming, that it feels like an organic part of the story, not something gratuitous or unnecessary. I also hope it doesn't upset my peace-loving family! But since my parents are the ones who taught me what a good story is, who read me stories with high stakes and true loss, I think they will be able to see the violence the way it was intended: the inevitable consequence of a high stakes set up and the necessary way to serve the story.
© 2012 Daphne Benedis-Grab, author of The Girl in the Wall
Author Bio
Daphne Benedis-Grab
, author of The Girl in the Wall, earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School, where she began the thesis that became her first book, 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 with her husband and their two children in New York City.
For more information please visit and, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

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  1. Thanks for the post I enjoy the guest post, their fun! And I've had my eye on this book, sounds like a good read.

  2. Followed on GFC …as Paul T / Pauline T(Paul Tran…pls use emscout9 at hotmail dot com instead of gmail to contact me)


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