Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hallie Ephron's YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR launches today!

JENNN MCKINLAY: Hallie, I loved You'll Never Know, Dear!!! The suspense was top-notch, an absolute page turner, but what resonated with me beyond the excellent edge of the seat must know what happens next writing was the complexity of the mother-daughter relationships you drew so well throughout the book.

How did your own life influence the creation of these characters and their relationships?


HALLIE EPHRON: My mother was a complete enigma to me. I hope to my daughters I'm an open book. And yet... I wanted to explore how family "history" often papers over secrets, and kinship is earned, not inherited.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I second the triple exclamation marks!  Readers can tell a Hallie book instantly--they're suspenseful, textured, and a little bit (or more) creepy--in the sense of "what's really going on here?" And we can't wait to find out. Still, this book is somewhat of a departure for you. New suspense territory. Do you feel that way?  If so, why'd you tackle it?

HALLIE: I suppose it IS new in a lot of ways. Setting it in the South felt like stepping off a cliff, but my doll makers who sit out on their porch and sip sweet tea belonged in the South. Library Journal's review called it "A satisfyingly creepy read for fans of Southern Gothic fiction."  Yay!

Another leap: it's about dolls. Learning about dolls and doll making was a fun challenge. And then of course, making it pay off in the plot.


INGRID THOFT: Hallie, this book was so creepy and atmospheric and had such a strong sense of place.  It left me wondering, how did you choose the setting? 

Did you discover the setting first, and then put the story there or was it the other way around?  Did you go to South Carolina to do research?  The dialogue also captured the place with turns of phrase and a cadence that was perfect.  How did you pull that off, being a Bostonian of many years?


HALLIE: Oh, Ingrid! Thank you so much. I really worked at that. Once I realized the story belonged in the South, I picked Beaufort (BUE-fert), South Carolina. I’d been there twice. I wrote half the book, coasting on memory. Then I booked a plane ticket and a room for four nights at an inn (pictured) in the center of the historic district where I imagined my characters lived. I used that house as the neighbor's house in the book.

Beaufort was just as gorgeous as I remembered. Live oaks dripping with Spanish moss line the main streets. It has a spectacular
river-front park and esplanade. Shrimping boats like the one Officer Dan jumped off in Forrest Gump (filmed in Beaufort) chug up and down the river. (That picture is me and shrimper Steve Kerchner, practically a relative.) Anyone walking in the marsh’s thick gooey mud risks having their boots sucked right off their feet. The tide rises and falls 9 feet, so if you get stuck in that mud, you're a goner.

It's the perfect setting for a suspense novel--just the right balance of unique local color and menace.

On the dialogue, I confess I found a series of YouTube videos: Sh%t Southern Women Say. Four Southern babes and they're completely divine. Over the top. I took notes and dialed it back. Thank you, Ladies! I'm a FAN!



DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie, I loved this book. I think it's your best yet, and that's saying a lot! So, tell us about the dolls. I don't even like dolls and I was fascinated. I had no idea doll collecting was such a big and complicated thing. And the portrait dolls! Is there really such a thing? How interesting and slightly creepy. Was it the dolls that gave you the idea for the plot, or did mother-daughter-missing sister idea come first? Either way, it's a brilliant combination.

HALLIE: The story was inspired by a chance conversation with an old friend, Mary Alice Gallagher. She told me about having just returned from helping her elderly mother downsize and move out of their family’s North Carolina home. Her mother was a doll maker, and the house had been full of dolls and molds and glazes and paints for making porcelain portrait dolls (there really is such a thing).

Under every bed, Mary Alice found boxes and boxes of doll parts. Legs. Arms. Torsos. Wigs. Eyeballs. And eyeball-less heads.

When I got home, I couldn’t shake that image. From the start, I knew that the story would be about a little girl who disappeared with a unique porcelain portrait doll made for her by her mother. I knew the book would open forty years later when the doll comes back.

It took me a long time to figure out what happened to the little girl, but from day-one I knew that doll parts would provide the key to unlocking the mystery.

LUCY BURDETTE: I've said this before and I'll say it again--one of your very best, Hallie! You've already had lots of great questions asked about this book, so I'm wondering...how do you move from these characters and this complete story to a new book?

It's not like a series, where the writer can say, oh yes, here's where I'm headed next time: This character can become embroiled in an investigation for this reason, and in Hayley's life, this will be going on... How do you make the shift to an entirely new book?? Do you feel finished with these people by the time the plot is wrapped up?

HALLIE: I hate starting over because it's so much easier for me to edit than to write first draft. But i don't feel remotely tempted to pick up my characters where I left off. I'm finished with Lis and Vanessa and Miss Sorrel and they're finished with me.

RHYS BOWEN: Hallie did you grow up loving this edge-of-seat suspense? Which writers influenced you?

HALLIE: I did love Alfred Hitchcock movies. He had a talent for imbuing the everyday with menace. He didn't have dolls in his movies, but here's an odd fact: He gave his star from The Birds Tippi Hedren's 6-year-old daughter (actress Melanie Griffith) the gift of a painfully accurate wax doll figure of her mother in a miniature coffin. That's beyond creepy.

Not nearly as creepy: here's a doll my friend Mary Alice Gallagher's mother made for Mary Alice's daughter, Cate. It's going on book tour with me! So please, come to one of my events and I'll take a picture of us three and post it on Facebook. My events.


68 comments:

  1. Happy Book Birthday, Hallie!

    I loved this absolutely unputdownable book . . . .

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  2. Congratulations, Hallie! I can't wait to read it. I didn't play with dolls as a kid, other than sending my Barbies out on adventures that had a lot to do with horses and very little to do with changing clothes. But I did some mild exploration into doll making when I was in college. Even then I preferred the soft rag dolls to the porcelain princesses. My youngest granddaughter got into the American Girl thing for a while, which is a whole subculture of its own. I suspect, for those who do get deeply into dolls, there's a lot going on with alter egos, imaginary friends, and alternate lives. Great fodder for a suspense novel, for sure. This one is on top of my TBR pile. All best wishes for its success!

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    1. Thanks, Gigi -- Yes indeed, adolescent girls and horses. My granddaughter is seriously into dolls. Mermaid dolls. Princess dolls. Mermaid princess dolls. And of course Barbies. She hasn't yet discovered American Girls. Shhhh.

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    2. Gigi, my two younger daughters had five of the American Girl dolls. Which I made them pay for themselves (past the first one), they were so expensive then. I imagine they still are. But I made a wardrobe for Samantha, the first one, for Christmas one year, and we had beds for all of them, using their boxes as the base. The best part was that each doll got a set of books about them, set in their own period of history. They still have them, at age 32 and 29.

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  3. Congrats Hallie! I get a little chuckle hearing that the doll is going on tour. She'll be a little harder to pack then your pretty string of Pink pearls for the last book!

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    1. No kidding! And she weighs... a ton.

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  4. Congratulations, Hallie!! The creepy doll and the Beaufort SC setting sounds great! I was never into playing with dolls as a girl and did not have any siblings or female cousins nearby either so missed out on the doll obsession. Looking forward to reading YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR!

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    1. Me, too - I had a baby doll and a Betsy McCall doll but once I'd dressed and undressed them I lost interest... That was before Barbie and American Girl.

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  5. Happy book birthday, Hallie! I must get The Girl to drive me down to Mystery Lovers this weekend...

    Mary/Liz

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    1. and say HI for me! I haven't been in there in far too long.

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    2. I will! You must come and visit; you'd love the new owers. And it would be so good to see you.

      Mary/Liz

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  6. Yay, Hallie! I just downloaded it but look forward to getting a signed copy when I see you. Creepy dolls terrify me, but I love the story above how you developed the characters, setting, and dialogue!

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  7. Love this so much--congratulations! Tell us how you choose names-they're so Southern and authentic.
    And see you tonight at Brookline Booksmith--7 pm, and all are invited!

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    1. SEE YOU TONIGHT! The names took awhile to get. Some of the more southern-sounding ones: Miss Sorrel. Vanessa Strenger. Cap'n Jack. Wayne "Woody" Woodham. Buck Dumont. Google is my friend.

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    2. Wish I could be there to see you both! Have a wonderful event!

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  8. Congratulations on your book launch today. This was a great read. You are a master at telling a story that stays with you.

    Dru

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  9. Hallie, congratulations! The cover and title creep me out! I'm going to wait for a slew of bright sunny days before I sit down to read this one.... ;-)

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    1. It certainly makes an impression! I love it. But book's not nearly as creepy as its cover. Sez me.

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  10. Thank you, Hallie, for another TGR.

    I played with dolls until -- well -- let's say I'd still be doing it if I weren't afraid of being put in Shady Oaks to stay. Dolls take on a life of their own for some of us. So my advice is to be aware of doll instigated adversities while on tour.

    It was my pleasure to read this earlier in the spring, but I am once again sleeping well, head out of the covers and all that.

    Bringing the essence of Beaufort into YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR took me back to Pat Conroy's THE WATER IS WIDE, recently reread. You are fortunate to have visited that little town that appeals to so many artists and writers. And Forrest Gump.

    Now I'm off to soothe spooked scholars I mean review the book on Amazon.

    Kudos darlin'

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    1. LOVE Beaufort! For a little town it packs a wallop.

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  11. I agree with Deb, I think this might be your best book, Hallie - and as you know, I have loved them all. Can't wait to share my review with the world later this week.

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    1. Can't wait to see it! Thanks, Kristopher & BOLOBOOKS!

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  12. Sounds wonderful, can't wait to read it. Frankly, dolls have always frightened me. Never played with them myself.

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    1. It's amazing how many people say the same thing...

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  13. Oh happy day! Hallie's new book is out. Can't wait to read it.

    I'm so impressed by the YouTube video tactic to be able to write authentic dialogue - what a terrific idea! Big congratulations to you today!

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  14. Congratulations, Hallie! I can't wait to read your new book. The setting and the doll theme sound so intriguing. I had a doll that I on a chair in my room through high school, at least. That doll must have been well-loved, because she was missing an arm and one eye was kind of rolled in. Everyone thought she was quite creepy-looking, but I was reluctant to part with her.

    I'm hoping to make it to one of your events and meet you and find out more about the dolls and the book!

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    1. Mary, hope to see you out and about! What happened to the doll??

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    2. I didn't have a doll like that, but I did have a large, well-loved teddy bear that stayed with my mom when I moved out. She put it in the room where my niece slept when she came to visit. After Mom died, the bear came back to me, and the first time my niece stayed over she said, "Oh my god! You kept the scary bear!" Clearly her memories were not as fond as mine.

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  15. Hallie, so excited for today! Happy, happy book launch day. Can't wait to read this one.

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    1. Hugs, Karen! Hope Ohio is warmer than Boston... there were actual snowflakes here this morning.

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    2. What the heck? That's crazy. It was in the 80's here for the last few days; 93 over the weekend!

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  16. Mom made clothes for the doll "Santa" brought the year Mom declared my last for dolls, growing up and all. I made clothes for my sister's Tammy doll -- no Barbies in our house -- and my niece played with them and would have passed them to her daughters if not for a theft of everything in their storage locker. I never really understood the song about brothers breaking a dolly until I saw some with ceramic heads. My brothers kidnapped my dolls, but returned them in one piece.

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  17. I do still have some dolls -- kid heaven here ;-) and I have your book on order.

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    1. Us, too - dolls for my granddaughter who is major into dolls.

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  18. Congrats on the new book! What a wonderfully creepy topic and such an arresting cover.

    I never played with dolls, so whenever well-meaning family friends and relatives sent me Barbies as presents, my parents would ship them to our relatives in the Philippines who'd actually appreciate them. I never really got the point of Barbies or dolls of any kind.

    Plus, I've always found dolls sooo creepy, especially the porcelain dolls. They're right up there with ventriloquist dummies, marionettes, and clowns as nightmare fodder.

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    1. I know. I completely agree. It's because those porcelain dolls look TOO real.

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  19. Hallie, I just want to add that the William Morrow team did a great job on the cover of You'll Never Know, Dear. How much input did you have? And how hard was it to come up with the title?

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    1. Hi, Debs! I love the cover. They asked me what should go on the cover and I said the obvious: a doll. And they took it from there. The image is so perfect, and it's the first thing they sent me. All I had to say was YES! The title? For a long time it was Losing Janey. But I'm tired of gerund/proper noun combo titles. And I didn't want any girls or trains in the title. So I returned to where I've found my other titles, children's stories and songs. You'll Never Know, Dear... and I want the reader to complete the song: How much I love you, please don't take my Sunshine away.

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    2. So glad you went with You'll Never Know, Dear instead of Losing Janey. It's much more unique and I did find myself finishing the song before I cracked the spine.

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  20. Congrats, Hallie! This was such a fabulous read. I am delighted that it's out in the world for everyone to enjoy!

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  21. So exciting! I love dolls and suspense and mother/daughter and everything you write. What a great package!!!
    I recently found a photo of myself sitting on my bed with my dollies -- maybe five -- it's now framed and on public display.

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    1. Hi, Denise Ann! I'd love to see that picture. Have you got it online?

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  22. My copy just came in today's mail!

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  23. There's nothing like a creepy Southern mystery. Hooray! I watched the video (Southern women) and had a good laugh. My husband's aunts in Louisiana used to refer to whichever aunt wasn't present as "just pitiful" rather than giving a "bless her heart." Louisiana is a wee bit different than the rest of the south. As for dolls, my aunt Butchie gave me a Ginny doll with red hair to match my own. And sewed clothes for her. I graduated to Madam Alexander dolls and then Barbies. Barbies had neater clothes and their shoes stayed on. Regardless of looks and shapes my dolls always morphed into Nancy Drew and her chums.

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    1. Pat, I could have used you as a reviewer! Sounds like you have the inside scoop on Ssouthernisms.

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  24. Hallie, that picture of the doll parts in the box gives me the heeby jeebies! Congrats on the new book! I wish I were on the east coast this week so I could see you and Hank tonight. I'm sure it will be a great conversation!

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    1. Bwa ha ha ha ha... wish you were here, too.

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  25. Congrats, Hallie! A new book from you is always something to look forward to. Next up on my TBR list!

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  26. Hallie, I hope you saw my review I posted on my Reading Room blog and the link on FB yesterday, because if you did, you must know just how much I loved You'll Never Know, Dear. I agree with others that this book might just be your best yet. From the deliciously creepy cover to the startling end, this book was a thrill to read. You nailed the Southern ambiance.

    Old dolls interest me, but I'd never be a collector, as I think all those doll faces staring at me would freak me out. I recently acquired my sister's old porcelain-faced doll with trunk and clothes. For now, it's on a shelf in my bedroom closet, but I keep thinking that it really deserves to be seen, so I may find a place for it. I do have my Tiny Tears doll out, and I believe her face is porcelain.

    Oh, I'm going to go back and listen to the Youtube Southern Girls now. I'm sure it will be entertaining. Have a great book birthday, Hallie1

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    1. Tiny Tears! And Betsy Wetsy! I had both of them. Kath, going to check Reading Room RIGHT NOW!

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  27. Congrats on the new book Hallie! Wish I could be there at the launch party tonight.

    As for the dolls, they definitely can be creepy. I know my mother had more than a few and even the ones that are of what one might call a wholesome image, they do have a slightly creepy vibe to them. I mean, WHY ARE THEY LOOKING AT ME?!?!

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    1. That is the thing, their eyes seem to follow you...

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  28. Congratulations on the book launch. Enjoy the party. I hope come the freezing winter, you can convince the powers that be to have you tour in Florida. It would be splendid to hear your presentation.

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  29. I'm excited! My download arrived this morning, and I'm so ready for another Hallie Ephron suspense ride.

    Love that you mentioned the Betsy dolls. Betsy Wetsy was my favorite until Besty McCall and her so-fun wardrobe arrived. Then Barbie, of course. And my original Raggedy Ann is sitting on my bed. She stares. We talk.

    Can't WAIT to see you this weekend at CCWC!

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    1. She stares. We talk.
      The perfect friend!
      Love you, Rochelle --- see you soon.

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  30. Hallie,
    Happy Belated Book Birthday! When I was a young child, I had a teddy bear, which I still have. I also had a baby doll. I remember Barbie dolls. And I remember little thumb sized dolls with the LEGO sets.

    Just added your book on my long, long list of TBR. Thinking this book would be a perfect read for Halloween.

    Yes, I remember the story about Hitchcock giving that creepy gift to Melanie Griffith. That Hitchcock sounds like a piece of work! I am surprised that no one murdered him!

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    1. Yes, he cameoed in his own films but never as the victim, which he surely deserved to be.

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    2. In novels, he can be the victim. Perhaps eaten by one of the lions. he he he he

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