About the author Rebecca A. Demarest
Rebecca A. Demarest is an author, designer, and illustrator living in Boston, MA. She has had stories published in several journals including Epiphany and Far Off Places, and Undeliverable is her debut novel. In her spare time, she crochets, gardens, and goes climbing with her boyfriend.
Guest Post: An Introduction to Undeliverable
What is Undeliverable about?
When Benjamin Grant’s son disappeared a year ago, he felt it was his duty as a father to do everything in his power to find his son, and he tried. He threw himself into the search, but his obsession left him without a home, wife, or job. Now, he’s managed to find work at the United States Postal Service’s Mail Recovery Center, which he hopes will prove an invaluable tool in his search. With the help of Sylvia—a kleptomaniac artist—Ben learns the ins and outs of a warehouse full of lost mail and explores every lead in his son’s case. But when that investigation leads him to Leonard Moscovich, Ben fears the worst.
What was your inspiration for Undeliverable?
Undeliverable was inspired by a random news story I heard talking about this mysterious Lost Letters Office—now the Mail Recovery Center—in the United States Postal Service. I was intrigued, and started digging into its history and its current operations. That was much harder than it would seem because no one at the Center is actually allowed to speak to civilians about anything and their monthly auctions are actually rather secretive (I was nearly arrested for taking pictures). But once I had a sense of what the Center did on a day to day basis, I started contemplating what kind of story could happen there, what kind of people would be drawn to it. After a couple years of research and free-writing, Ben slowly came into focus and his story took shape. A lot of the details of the characters themselves came from myself, my family, and my friends which helped to make them real to me.
What made you want to work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?
Once I had figured out that what Ben had lost was a family member, a son to be specific, I started researching statistics in the US having to do with missing children. The numbers are astoundingly high. The last comprehensive survey of law enforcement agencies across the nation was in 1999, and during that year, nearly 800,000 children were reported missing in the United States alone. Interestingly enough, only 115 of those cases were stereotypical stranger abductions. A quarter of them were taken by family members, usually in custody battles, 158,000 were taken by someone who was not a family member, but was known to the family. In 1990, the recovery rate for missing children was only 62%, but through the efforts of the NCMEC and their institution of the Amber Alert, that recovery rate is now 97%. Because this is such a huge problem, I wanted to do what I could to help families like my character’s by funding, in some small measure, the efforts to educate the public and train law enforcement personnel to help make that recovery number 100%. That’s why a dollar from each sale of the book goes to the center.
What was your process like in writing Undeliverable?
I read that article about the Lost Letters Office my senior year in undergrad, in 2008. I started doing research on it, and Atlanta, at that point, but didn’t write the first chapter for the novel until nearly a year later. At that point I had several “great” ideas that I ran past my current workshop professor at Emerson, who, thankfully, was one of those blunt professors who disabused me of them quickly, and for the betterment of the piece. Over the next year and half, I wrote the novel in between essays and shorter works for class, finally finishing the first draft at the beginning of my thesis semester in 2011. I was working with Steve Yarbrough and Pablo Medina, who were excellent guides in shaping the narrative and building up Ben’s character, and I spent two years after that editing the manuscript, sending it off to beta readers, and then tackling the rough spots they pointed out. Ten drafts later, I was finally happy with how Ben grows and changes, and the pace of the narrative.
I spent a couple months designing and laying out the book, ran a pre-order campaign to help fund some marketing, and launched it a week ago. I chose to go the independent route because it would allow me to send more money to the Center; if I had gone a more traditional route, the Center would have been lucky to get fifty cents. As it stands now, depending on how people buy the book, the Center is sometimes making more money off the book than I am!
Author: Rebecca A. Demarest
Genre: Literary Fiction/Suspense
Formats: Print, Large Print, eBook, Audiobook forthcoming
Book Description:When Benjamin Grant’s son disappeared a year ago, he felt it was his duty as a father to do everything in his power to find his son, and he tried. He threw himself into the search, but his obsession left him without a home, wife, or job. Now, he’s managed to find work at the United States Postal Service’s Mail Recovery Center, which he hopes will prove an invaluable tool in his search. With the help of Sylvia—a kleptomaniac artist—Ben learns the ins and outs of a warehouse full of lost mail and explores every lead in his son’s case. But when that investigation leads him to Leonard Moscovich, Ben fears the worst.
A printed autographed copy of Undeliverable up for grabs.
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