Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Author Spotlight: Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
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. Dive Smack, her debut novel, is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you’ll understand why. She is a first generation Greek-American and a member of International Thriller Writers. Dive Smack is a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection.

Title: Dive Smack
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller
Author: Demetra Brodsky
Publisher: TorTeen
Publication: June 19th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

I want to start off by saying that I don't know squat-diddly-squattypotty about swimming. I can't even swim; I just kind of flounder and then drown. So when I requested Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I knew it was a mystery/thriller but I had no idea how I was going to handle the whole swimming aspect. Lucky, the author explains everything in a way that makes it very easy to follow even if you are like me, and know NOTHING about swimming.

Theo is our main character. He is an amazing diver for his high school. He also happens to be an orphan. Theo’s parents both died in pretty tragic ways. His mother died in a fire, one that Theo feels responsible for. Then his father died of a heart attack while driving. Theo also feels sort of responsible for this because he thinks the heart attack was from the stress of losing his mother. But what happens when Theo’s fears might not just be fears. What happens when there is more to his parent's deaths than he thought?

I really love how the author made this book to be so much more than a thriller. She made Theo have this massive love for diving, even made his mother a diver, and she definitely did her research for the topic. The author didn’t just throw us into a world where we just had to figure out some big mystery. No, she made her character have a personality and likes/dislikes and that made the book seem more real because Theo felt real. Normally, we are just thrown into the middle of a characters life and we get to deal with what is currently happening, then we are done with that character. We get to know that character for a brief moment of their life so we get to know their personality for that moment and it might not be exactly who they are as a whole. I feel like, with Dive Smack, we got to know Theo as a whole, not just a momentary blip in time. 

With getting to know Theo so well, that helped to make this story so much more believable, so much more realistic and those aspects made the thriller portion of the book all the more creepy and goosebump-inducing. I have read so many creepy/thriller/horror books in my life that when something can actually creep me out or give me goosebumps, it’s a gem of a story. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what Dive Smack is; a GEM of a story.

In the end, this was a fantastic debut novel. It was beautifully written and the story kept me engulfed. The characters were well fleshed out and the story was told in a way that made this thriller stand out a bit more than others. If you are looking to read some Young Adult Thrillers then I highly suggest adding this one to your list! I will also be listening to the audiobook once the book comes out so I can see if I would recommend it and will be updating this review after that.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

1) How does it feel to finally be an amazing, published author? (shush, you are amazing and you know it!)
Ha! You know authors too well if you put that shush in there. Honestly, it’s a lot like riding a rollercoaster. I’m so proud that I stuck close to my dream and worked hard even when I felt like quitting.

I hold myself to a very high standard and know that I still have a lot to learn, but I’m ready to push the boundaries of what I know about structure and storytelling to dig deeper into the stories I want to tell. I have good days and bad days. Imposter syndrome, the sophomore slump: those things can make you question your artistic worth. But this first book is huge for me. As the daughter of two Greek immigrants, with a mom who can’t read higher than a third grade reading level, I did something I never thought I’d accomplish. So, I guess it feels amazing. You’re right. Thanks for the reminder.

2) What was the hardest part about writing Drive Smack? Easiest part?The springboard diving was the hardest part about writing Dive Smack. There is some much technical skill that goes into diving because it’s based on physics and shares many characteristics with gymnastics. Thankfully, I have a friend who was a U.S.A. springboard diver in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, who was kind enough to proofread all the diving in my book. When she blurbed my debut novel and called it “…a perfect 10” I was ecstatic. When an Olympic springboard diver says you nailed it, you kind of have a moment of stomach swooping pride.

The easiest part for me was the voice or voices of Theo and Chip. Voice isn’t something I struggle with, usually. Now that I said that, watch, I’ll probably have a hard time with my next project. But in all honesty, I injected so much of my own personality into both of those characters—Iris too—that the dialogue between them flowed the most effortlessly for me.

3) Who are some of your favorite authors?I’ll read anything by Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbot, Jeffrey Eugenides, or Jennifer McMahon or Janet Fitch.

My favorite YA authors are Courtney Summers, Jandy Nelson, Stephanie Keuhn, A.S. King, Nova Ren Suma, and E. Lockhart. When they used E. Lockhart as a comparative on the back of the Dive Smack ARC, I had to sit down for a minute and take that in. And also S.E. Hinton and Lois Duncan because. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders is the book that made me think about writing as young teen. And I received editorial notes on Dive Smack from Lois before she passed away on 6/15/16. My book comes out two years to the week where she fell ill. And on the day I got the news that Lois had passed, a Monarch Butterfly that I was nursing back to health was ready to fly again and be released. It was a deeply sad and magical moment, and that’s why my book is dedicated For Pumpkin. To the Monarch Butterfly I brought back from the brink of death, but it’s also a secret dedication to Lois.

4) What Hogwarts house are you in? 
Gryffindor. I’m also a Leo, so this makes sense. I’m a brave but sensitive lion-hearted gal, and deeply loyal to anyone who I consider a friend. But when crossed, I can be all gnashing teeth and claws. Both in my own defense and the defense of people I love. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and because of that I don’t know a single person who has ever had to question where they stand with me, which is a blessing and curse. 

5) Are you currently working on anything new?

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


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