Monday, June 18, 2018

Demetra Brodsky Author Interview

Photo Content from Demetra Brodsky

Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned writer. She has a B.F.A. from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs where she is always trying to make more time for the beach. Dive Smack is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you'll understand why.


Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (June 19, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765396955
ISBN-13: 978-0765396952

Praise for DIVE SMACK

"A tense psychological drama with a voice that pulls you in and a twist you won't see coming, Dive Smack is an instant Hitchcockian classic!" —Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten

"A twisty, witty thriller readers will love puzzling through to the very end. A visceral, delightful debut." —Carrie Mesrobian, author of William C. Morris award finalist Sex & Violence

"This riveting debut will plunge readers into an accelerating coil of twists and turns as if in free fall, plummeting them from a precipice as they cling to the dwindling hope of safe entry into the mysterious darkness below." —S.A. Bodeen, author of The Compound

"Brodsky’s debut combines an engaging school story, filled with best friend shenanigans, first love, and a fascinating look at competitive diving, with a tense psychological mystery." —Booklist

"In an impressive debut, Brodsky injects her teen drama with ambiguity, and a subtle hint of paranormal phenomena, leaving readers to guess at what’s really going on. Strong characters and a compelling mystery make this a real page-turner." —Publishers Weekly

"A taut thriller with a twist ending that will blow your mind." —Kim Liggett, Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author of The Last Harvest

"Complex, thrilling, and with a pitch-perfect narrative voice, Dive Smack will leave you on the edge of your seat and unable to put this one down." —C. Desir, author of Bleed Like Me

"Heartbreaking, human and heroic, Dive Smack is a Perfect 10!" —Karen LaFace, 1992 USA Olympic Springboard Diver

“A taut roller coaster of a thriller chock full of dark family secrets, twisty lies, and finally, the redeeming power of truth.” —Michelle Zink, author of This Wicked Game

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I lost my job in 2009 during the recession, like so many other people who were negatively affected, and decided to turn what some might see as a negative setback into an opportunity to follow a life long dream. My youngest daughter was devouring the Percy Jackson novels at the time. Being a first generation Greek American, I thought about how much I’ve always wanted to be an author, even though I was pushed by family as a teenager to do something they deemed more practical. I took the chance I had, for better or worse, to freelance and dive (pun acknowledge, not intended) into writing. I knew virtually nothing about writing a book. I had written poetry for years, though, so I set off for my local library and read as many books on the craft as I could carry, dedicated to changing my career and learning everything I could. The rest is a long string of workshops, rejections, and shelved manuscripts until I found myself here, debuting my first novel.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us? 

Stories have been around since the beginning of man as a way to communicate concepts. The same holds true today. Stories give us hope and remind us we’re not alone in our feelings and struggles. They’re a powerful tool for developing imagination and allowing us to escape our lives in good times and bad. In stories, we can see ourselves as a fierce warrior, the queen, crusader, or the outspoken advocate for justice. We can imagine the stomach flutters of a delicious romance. One of the things I love most about books is that you can describe all five senses. I love films and television stories, too. Don’t get me wrong. But the description of how something tastes or smells; you just can’t get that same depth in film.

What do you hope for people to be thinking after they read your novel? 

I hope readers will wonder how I tricked them in the final twist. What did they miss?

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? Such a hard question because I have so many favorites, so I’m going to go with the book that made me realize I wanted to be a writer and that’s The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I still love it to this day. I remember sitting in the backseat with my library book on a road trip to The Cape with my parents, reading the scene about the fire at the church (Hey! Look at that! Ha! A fire scene; what do you know?). I felt so immersed in the story and the struggle of the brothers growing up without parents, the love they had for their friends and vice versa, that I put the book down and began to daydream about writing. Ponyboy Curtis was my first fictional crush. To be honest, we have a dog named Ponyboy, a sweet, sensitive boy that currently rivals his namesake in my heart.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author? 

When I first started writing and querying and was getting encouraging rejections, Tera Lynn Childs, author of Oh. My. Gods., said to me, “Perseverance is the name of the game.” And she was 100% right. Never give up.

In your book; DIVE SMACK, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it? 

Dive Smack is about Theo Mackey, a springboard diver who gets assigned a family history project at school that forces him to dig into his mother’s past where he uncovers things that he shouldn’t. It’s as much about his mother’s story as his own, but telling you more would ruin all the fun twists and surprises I have in store for readers. Just know that the springboard diving is used as a metaphor for Theo’s life spiraling out of control.

For those who are unfamiliar with Theo, how would you introduce him? 

“Hi, this is Theo. He’s an orphan looking to find out about his mom’s past, and a pretty stand up guy. I think you two should be friends.”

What part of Iris did you enjoy writing the most? 

Oh, everything! She was so much fun and to write, but her family history was favorite to research and write because like Iris, I’m also the daughter of immigrants.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
At the moment, my projects are slightly under wraps, but I can say I have a YA thriller about alien abduction out on submission at the moment, and I’m also working with my editor at Tor Teen on another thriller proposal about siblings, and maybe the end of the world as we know it. I’d tell you more, but . . . I’m a thriller writer and you know how that saying goes. But please, stay tuned for things to come

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 

I would want to introduce Iris to Hermione so she could convince her that divination is not so bad, after all.

At a movie theater, which arm rest is yours? 

The right side. Always. And I have this quirk where if I’m taking a walk with someone, I like to walk on their left side. It’s weird, I know.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 

I try to give myself a few minutes to think about whatever project I’m working on. I think about the characters and what they might be doing in the next scene. It helps me to get to sleep, perchance to dream (Ha), and in the right mindset for getting to work first thing in the morning.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why? 

Frida Kahlo. She’s a total badass feminist and an incredible introspective artist with resilience and tenacity beyond measure. I have always been fascinated by her and would love, love, love to write a YA based on her life. In fact, I think I will.

What is your favorite restaurant in town and why? 

Lobster West. It’s not so much a restaurant as a walk up counter. I love it because the owner has Maine Lobsters flown in to make their lobster rolls. Every time I eat there, I’m transported back to my home state. Lobster and New England seafood is my favorite.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be? 

I’d prevent the Holocaust from happening.

What were you doing at midnight last night? 

This is embarrassing, but I was watching An Extremely Goofy Movie with my grown daughter, laughing about how much she loved it when she was little. Especially, when the friend Bobby claps after a poetry reading and yells, “Arthur. Arthur Miller,” instead of bravo. That’s our favorite scene.

What are you most passionate about today? 

Literacy. I’m a first generation Greek-American and bilingual. I went to Greek School for six years after regular school, just like in that movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I didn’t grow up in a houseful of books. In fact, my mother can’t read, so libraries and librarians were very important to me in my young life. Without them, I don’t know if I would have such a strong love for reading and writing. When I found out Dive Smack was a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection, I broke down and cried. That designation means so much to me and I’m extremely grateful my debut novel was chosen. I’m currently looking into how to become a reading and literacy tutor in San Diego.

1. Theo used to have this horrible girlfriend named Kendra Cromwell. Everyone hated her but me so she had to go.
2. The town of Ellis Hollow got its name from a section of Ithaca, NY, a place where I once lived and befriended the Olympic springboard diver who helped me with the diving scenes.
3. Green Hill Hospital is modeled after a real place, The Worcester State Hospital in the city where I was born.
5. The Old Stone Church is a real place in Boylston, MA at the Wachusett Reservoir near where I grew up.
6. The Cliff Jumping Scenes were inspired by the many gorges in Ithaca, NY. See #2.
7. I watched at least a hundred videos of Tom Daley, Kristian Ipsen, and Steele Johnson (yes, that’s his real name) to study their dives before writing those scenes and asking my friend Karen LaFace, a 1992 Olympic Springboard Diver to proof those sections.
8. Lois Duncan once gave me editorial notes on Dive Smack, and she really liked and helped me develop my villain.
9. I watched so many clips of Dylan O’Brien to study his mannerisms for Chip that he’s easily my favorite character, both in my book and on Teen Wolf.
10. The town underneath the reservoir is take from the real town buried under the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. The how town of Ellis Hollow is taken from bits and pieces of the towns in and around Massachusetts where I was born and raised and Ithaca, NY, where I lived for seven years.
BONUS: I wrote 13 drafts of Dive Smack between 2011 and 2017 and received over a hundred rejections combined from agents and editors.

Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A's and solid friends, he's only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make him question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.


It takes a unique style of writing to present an uncommon sport as one of the integral ingredient in the fast-paced psychological thriller, Dive Smack, by Demetra Brodsky. Competitive diving may be widely known but it is rarely represented in storytelling. Diving into water is not something many people consider doing as a sport. The thought of diving while performing acrobatic twists right before smacking into the water is quite the rush and also quite scary. To weave it into a complex plot of mystery and death is a taxing task to do but Brodsky easily preserves a writing etiquette that directs the story into a whirlwind ride and keeping the reader buckled at the front seat.

The events leading to the death of Theo’s mother is quite cloudy in his head. He thinks that he might actually be the one that lit the match that started the fire his mother was killed in. His brain has decided to obstruct important details of that tragic event. The story starts off with a lot of information with none of the dots connecting. Once Theo begins to remember minute details, it quickly picks up business and the story’s interest level is at a pinnacle. Not only does his memory reveal unexpected revelations, he also starts to see things before they happen. This surprising paranormal twist is the component that connects those dots and completely pushes the reader off the edge of their seat.

Brodsky’s decision to set the story in Theo’s perspective was quite interesting. Usually in a psychological thriller, outside influences tend to provide more information and the reader is given a wider perspective. Narrowing it to just Theo’s point of view give readers a personal ride-along into his thoughts and are immersed into his own discernment as the story progresses. Theo literally grabs the readers by the wrist and directs them where to go.

Dive Smack provides a story that upholds the readers’ interest with the aid of complex characters. Theo’s relationship with his best friend, Chip, is believable and didn’t feel artificial. Although he has a love interest with her own mysterious secrets, it did not outshine the main plot. Brodsky’s witty approach of involving popular culture into the story is satisfying. The writing is exceptionally well and provides a pace that is fast but never veers off course. It’s on a track that will keep readers at bay and yearning for more. Dive Smack carries all the right attributes for a terrific book. Superb storytelling, intriguing characters, surprising twists and turns, and unexpected paranormal are the perfect ingredients.

You can purchase Dive Smack at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEMETRA BRODSKY AND TOR for making this giveaway possible.
Skype or phone session (personal or school class). 
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  1. The most frightening moment of my life was when my mother-in-law came into church during mass and told me my baby had been rushed to the hospital.

  2. This book sounds great. Psychological thrillers are my favorite! The most frightening incident of my life was getting into a car accident on a narrow bridge, with all the air bags inflating and the vehicle out of control. That was 10 years ago and I haven't driven since.

  3. Thanks for hosting. This sounds really good. Looking forward to it.

  4. The most frightening day of my life is the day I got a phone call letting me know my daughter was in a drowning accident in which she passed away.

  5. At 15 years, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I didn't know anything about the disease. I didn't know I would have to do shots for the rest of my life!

  6. The most frightening moment of my life was when a man broke in my apartment to rob me. He left when I woke up, but it was very scary.

  7. The most frightening moment of my wife was when the tests came back positive for cancer.