Welcome to my FIRST BLOG TOUR EVER! Yay! I read Deborah Kerbel’s Bye-Bye, Evil Eye, a middle grade mystery in which thirteen-year-old Dani is cursed by the “evil eye” and suffers weeks of bad luck. All she wants is a summer of fun, friends, and of course, cute boys, but things don’t turn out exactly as she has planned.
Thank you to Deborah who took the time to answer some questions for me! You’ll find out Q & A below. Before I jump in, I want to share a few quick thoughts about Deborah’s story. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything middle grade, but this was actually a really fun and light-hearted read. It’s exactly the kind of story I would have loved as an elementary school reader. Dani is a fun loving, relatable young girl whom you can’t help but love. She and her friend Kat have a friendship that’s loyal and true. Their friendship pulls this story together well and shows young readers that the bonds of friendship can pull you through any trials, growing stronger as you experience and survive struggles together.
How would you sum up *Bye-Bye Evil Eye* in three words?
Girl vs. curse.
The novel begins in beautiful Greece. What led you to the decision to start the story off there?
Firstly, there are many Greeks who believe in the evil eye, so the setting made sense for the plot. Secondly, Greek culture is something I’m familiar with. Growing up, my next-door neighbour and best friend was Greek. I spent a lot of time at her house — so much time, her parents often referred to me as their fifth daughter. Over the years, I picked up Greek customs and a bit of the language, all while enjoying her mom’s saganaki and moussaka, and listening to her dad speak proudly of Greek contributions to Western civilization. I was twelve when my friend’s baby sister was born. I remember how her parents hung a little glass eye over the bassinette to protect her. That was the first time I’d ever heard of the evil eye.
As soon as I was old enough to afford the plane ticket, I flew to Europe and spent three weeks travelling through Greece. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. I hope that comes through in the book.
Dani is such a fun-loving, free spirited young woman, while Kat is a quiet, but truly loyal friend. Do any of your characters draw inspiration from real people or real events in your life?
Writers are always looking for inspiration…and usually we’ll take it anywhere we can find it. Most of my characters – like Dani and Kat – are a mish-mash of personality traits from people I’ve met throughout my life. But of all the characters in Bye-Bye, Evil Eye, Mrs. P and Nick were most closely inspired by real-life people. But I’m not naming names.
Is there any particular character that you relate most strongly to, and why?
I relate to both Dani and Kat in different ways. I think I share some of Dani’s upbeat nature and confidence. But Kat’s quiet personality and love of books are also qualities of mine. It’s safe to say that all of the main characters in my books have little pieces of me imbedded in them. People who know me well know where to find them.
What is your greatest motivator or inspiration when it comes to your writing?
I love words and I love books. I love that magical feeling when a story starts to weave itself together in front of your eyes. And I love creating — making something out of nothing gives me joy. Transforming a blank page into a story people will read and (hopefully) remember – that’s so exciting. There’s no other job in the world I would want to do.
Did you have any particular reason for choosing Dani as the narrator and protagonist when Kat, too, has such an interesting story?
Well, the concept of the book is about a girl who gets cursed with the evil eye, so it was really Dani’s story from the beginning. In the very early stages of writing the book, Kat was just a minor character. But the more I wrote about her, the more she came to life on the page. I’m happy you liked her story too!
You threw in quite a twist at the end! I don’t want to give anything away to readers, but you caught me completely off guard. Until this particular point, the story is seemingly about Dani, but you shifted the focus in an exciting way. I love the control and confidence that Kat gains as she reveals her secret and really accepts herself. Without too many spoilers, how did you come to the decision to have Kat blossom at the end, even though she remains a bit off to the side throughout the story?
As I mentioned previously, Kat really took on a life of her own during the writing of the book. By the time I got to the ending, she was taking the reins of her own story and really blossoming into a very strong character. If you can believe it, I actually didn’t see that final twist coming either. It’s almost like Kat’s character wrote that scene all on her own. As the author, all I had to do was stand back and not get in her way.
About the Author:
Kerbel, Deborah has written several teen novels including Mackenzie, Lost and Found; Girl on the Other Side (nominated for the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award), and Lure(nominated for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award).
Read more about Bye-Bye Evil Eye at dancingcatbooks.com.