15 Minutes with Keir Graff


Keir Graff, author of the new novel, “The Phantom Tower”, and other middle-grade books, recently visited Denver and did presentations for students at  Normandy Elementary School in the morning and Meiklejohn Elementary.

Graff started his presentation by talking about what inspired him to write the book and what inspired him to choose the characters and the settings.

He said that he and his family had once lived in a building. This building was the Brunhild Tower that’s the main setting in “The Phantom Tower”. He talked about how this tower had weird quirks like a red liquid coming out of the sinks, a large parking lot when land was very expensive, and no 13th floor. When the Brunhild Tower was made, it was planned that there would be another identical tower next to the Brunhild Tower. This phantom tower wasn’t actually built, and was instead replaced by a large parking lot. Graff continued talking about the two main characters in this book, Colm and Mal. He said that the reason he chose two boys to be the main characters is that there aren’t a lot of books for boys compared to the amount of books for girls.

Next, Graff talked about rules in writing. He said that writers could use real places in writing, but it depends about using real people in writing. He said that wherever he went, he always looked for unusual buildings, houses, etc. Some of the houses that Graff mentioned specifically were The House on the Rock, The Fishhouse, The Coral Castle, The Junk Castle, and The House in the Clouds. He talked about how he sometimes writes about these places in his books. A few of the books that Graff mentioned in the presentation are “The Matchstick Castle”, “The Other Felix”, a few grown-up novels, and now, “The Phantom Tower”.

Graff then moved on to how he wrote “The Phantom Tower” and some secrets about this book. Normally Graff typically takes 12-18 months to write a book, and “The Phantom Tower” took about 5 months to write the 1st draft and about 1 year to finish this book. This leads into the 1st secret about this book, which is the reason why Graff wrote it so quickly. He read his book to his son’s 5th grade class as he was writing it. The fifth graders wanted to read more and more of the book, which made Graff have to write the book really fast. The 2nd secret that Graff talked about is that there is a map on the front of the book is actually a map of his apartment at the Brunhild Tower. The 3rd secret is that the Brunhild Tower was actually renamed not long ago to the address of the building, but Graff thought that it was better to bring back the name of the Brunhild Tower.

All in all, I learned a lot more about this book, Keir Graff, and writing then before I went to this presentation and interview. I hope everyone also learned more, and I hope this inspires you to read “The Phantom Tower” or any other book by Keir Graff.