Friday, March 23, 2018

Hallie's paperback launch: You'll Never Know, Dear


HALLIE EPHRON: There are few moments in a writer's life that are more unalloyed pleasure than opening a box of brand spanking new, hot off the presses copies of your book. Here's the box of the paperback edition of You'll Never Know, Dear which appeared on my doorstep in the middle of the blizzard before last, and will officially ship next week.

The cover is my favorite of all my books. It's sweet and creepy, though I wish the doll's eye could blink. And go click.

This was the first book I've ever written that's based on someone else's idea. It was a friend and neighbor, Mary Alice Gallagher, who told me about helping her mother move out of their family longtime family home in Fayetteville. Her mother, Blanche, was a doll maker. All over the house, and especially from under beds, Mary Alice pulled out boxes and boxes of doll parts.  

Put that in one of your books, she said.

I couldn't shake the image of those doll parts. So I wrote about them, and ended up with this story:

Forty years after the disappearance of a little girl and the doll her mother made for her, the doll comes back. The novel is about finding the girl.

The book has been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. It was named one of the top ten mystery/crime novels of 2017 by Audiofile Magazine and received an Earphones Award.

My favorite part of writing a novel is research. I had to go to Beaufort, SC—I set the story there, though I call it Bonsecours. And of course I had to learn about how to make and repair dolls.

One of my first research trips was to a woman whose home is a doll hospital. Every room was chockablock with dolls. On every shelf. Rag dolls hanging like ripe hams from rafters. Doll parts were neatly catalogued in boxes.

I quickly lost my squeamishness about doll parts. Even the eyeballs. They're sweet.
Here are some of the arcane bits of knowledge I acquired while researching the book. Because hey, you never know when you'll need to uncloud a doll's eyeball.

- How to uncloud a doll's glass eyeballs: Clean with Q-tip and vinegar, and if the cloudiness has spread inside, hold blow dryer to eyes, 10 minutes at a time.
- How can you tell if doll's hair is human: Burn it. Human catches fire right away, flashes, then balls up into dark ash that you can crush into a dark powder with a distinctive, unpleasant odor. Synthetic hair melts and curls up into a hard ball and has a plasticky, chemical smell
- How can you tell if a hair is from a dog or a human? Look at it under a microscope.


More than you needed to know, right?

- How to cock a break-action shotgun: Close it; when closed it’s cocked and ready to go; it kicks like a mule when fired and you can easily bruise your shoulder
- What DNA do you need to tell if 2 women are sisters: theirs and (half the time) their mother's
- How could a woman kill someone on a shrimp boat and make it look like an accident? You'll have to read the book.

If you haven't read it, the paperback is available now for pre-order, shipping March 27. And, did I mention that the audio book is an award winner?
Amazon

And if you're looking for me, here's where I'll be speaking in the coming months: 

38 comments:

  1. It’s rather creepy to think of a house filled with boxes of doll parts, but it does make for a wonderful story [one of my all-time favorites]. Congratulations, Hallie, on the paperback release of your book . . .

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  2. Congratulations, Hallie! The book is terrific, and I hope the paperback version sells like gangbusters for you. But you know how insatiable fans can be. What are you working on next?

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    1. ah, that... I am in the final throes of a book called Careful What You Wish For. Figuring out the ending as I go. Sadly.

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    2. Hallie, don't worry--you've got a 'river of before' to take you to the end, wherever that may be in this new book! Congratulations--great cover!! And enjoy your events--looks like some wonderful ones lined up!

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    3. OMG, Flora - that would be a great title fora memoir: River of Before. (Me: NOT writing a memoir.)

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  3. You're coming to Pennwriters!?! That's wonderful. It's a fun conference. I hope to see you there, Hallie. I'll be there with at least one other Seascape veteran.

    Congrats on the new book!

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    1. See you in Lancaster, Ramona! I just booked a train(!) ticket. Who knew you could take a train from Boston to Lancaster? Pennwriters is one of my all time favorite writing conferences.

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  4. I loved this book, Hallie, and it's origin story. You are a master (mistress?) of suspense. See you in Milton!

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  5. So happy to see the paperback coming out! I loved this book - though the doll cover is a bit 'creepy', it fits the story completely. Sorry I won't be able to attend any of your events. Don't you want to come to Texas? LOL

    Oh, and can't wait for your next one! Book that is.

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    1. I DO want to come to Texas! Dallas, Austin, Houston... helloooooo!

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    2. Yes, definitely come to Texas!

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  6. Congrats on the new paperback. Hmmm... our new place is less than an hour from Lancaster.

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    1. COME TO PENNWRITERS! Seriously, Jim. For me it's a 10 hour trip.

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  7. A great aunt who lived in CA had a doll hospital. When my sisters and I visited her as children (aged 6, 8, and 10) we thought it was the coolest place ever. Our aunt was smart and funny and sweet. But I now can see how you could make it all seem creepy and with such talent, you have!

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    1. Was the doll hospital in her house and did you guys sleep there? Because that's hard, with those dolls watching...

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  8. Hallie, if the eyes blinked and clicked I’d keel over dead! Congratulations on the award and the release of the pbk version of this fabulous book - I loved it!

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  9. I was - am - a huge fan of this novel. I am so excited about the Mary Higgins Clark nomination. And I agree with Jenn, if that eye moved I would never pick this book up. NEVER.

    See you soon!

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    1. So maybe it's a good thing you can't put an animated gif on a hard cover.

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    2. Animated gifs belong in hell. Just saying...

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  10. Kudos on the paperback edition of your best book so far! When I was a child, doll hospitals weren’t uncommon. Broken toys got repaired back in the day instead of ending up oin the landfill. I treasure my copy of this book and look forward to the next. We will be in Lancaster about a week before you are. Wish I’d known and we would have put off our vacation another week. Xox

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    1. Ann, Thanks! Yes, it's a shame that so many plastic dolls/toys/etc end up not only in landfills but in the ocean's floating trash heap.

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  11. I loved this book, Hallie.

    Too bad I can't make Pennwriters this year (The Girl is graduating the Wedensday following the conference; I figured it was a bad idea to leave town for 4 days right in the middle of last-minute planning).

    Mary/Liz

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  12. Yay, Hallie! I love the cover and love the book! This makes me think of the Storybook Dolls that my grandmother had stashed away. We got to take them home with us, and I remember the anticipation of taking the cover off the polka dot box. Now I've just started down a rabbit hole of images of Fisher-Price dolls from the '70s.

    Did you have a favorite doll growing up, Hallie?

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    1. I wasn't into dolls. I was into balls. Anything I could catch and throw. And I loved to play 'teacher' with my poor sister as my victim.

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  13. Congratulations of the paperback release, Hallie, and on all the awards! You know how much I love this book! But I agree I don't want the doll's eye to blink, lol. I did not know that You'll Never Know, Dear had won an Earphone award--I think I may have to treat myself to the Audible version.

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    1. The narrator, Amy McFadden, is superb!

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  14. Congratulations, Hallie! I think creepy dolls are probably a genre all their own. I seem to recall seeing a doll hospital here in Houston when I was a kid. The toy store where I got my Ginny doll and others had "parts" to buy to do your own repairs. I think Mom bought a wig to replace the original on my poor doll. I don't remember if someone at the store glued it on or if she did the job herself.

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    1. That's so sweet! I think I might have had a Ginny doll. They were pre-Barbies, right?

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  15. Hallie, this was definitely one of my favorite books last year, and I'm so excited for its Mary Higgins Clark nomination. And congratulations, too, on the Audiofile and Earphones awards. With the delicious creepy factor of the dolls, it will continue to be in my favorite reads. The cover is wonderful, and I would actually delight in a blinking eye, and a clicking sound, perfection. I'm so glad that your neighbor told you about her mother's doll making and dealing with the house full of dolls and doll parts. And, isn't her mother's name just the quintessential Southern name, Blanche.

    I do wish that I could share the picture of myself as a kid with my Littlest Angel and the wonky eye. I've used it as a profile pic on FB before, and I get lots of comments about the creepy doll, because of her wonky eye. She's actually a sweet, adorable little doll.

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    1. I know: Blanche! So perfect.
      And she had a best friend who was also into dolls. Used to call her up: "Blanche, honey, let's play dolls." And they'd get together and make dolls and their accoutrements on their front porch and sip sweet tea.
      Going to look on Facebook to see if I can find Littlest Angel. They say nothing disappears.

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    2. Here's an ebay link, Hallie. https://www.ebay.com/i/401424775108?chn=ps&dispItem=1

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  16. Congratulations Hallie . I loved your book. Nominations and awards are well deserved. I wish you lots of sales for the paperback.
    As I already have difficulty with the cover, it is a good thing that the eye can't move.

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