Guest Post: Hallie Ephron

Today some of us (Liz maybe) are squeeing with fangirl delight as we welcome Hallie Ephron! Hallie has written some amazing suspense novels and her latest, You’ll Never Know Dear, is garnering high praise. And isn’t that cover so deliciously creepy?

Hallie Ephron on the dolls in You’ll Never Know Dear

HALLIE EPHRON: People tell me all the time, “Boy have I got a great idea for your next book,” and it never is. Until two years ago.” That was when I ran into an old friend at my fitness center and while we were waiting on line to get into a class, she told me about how she’d been helping her mother move out of their family home in Fayetteville, NC. 

HalliePostersDollsBook-CRHer mother was, of course, a collector and also a talented crafts person. Her most recent interest had been making porcelain dolls. My friend told me her kids used to hate to sleep in any of the bedrooms where Grandma kept dolls. They’d say, “You’d wake up and they’d all be looking at you.” There’d been all kinds of supplies for doll making–like molds and a kiln–and of course a fleet of dolls that needed to be dealt with.

On top of that, under every bed she found boxes and boxes of doll parts. Arms. Legs. Bodies. Heads. Eyeballs. And that’s when my friend said, “That would be a nice, creepy detail to put in one of your books!”

DollEyesShe was absolutely right, because long after I got home those doll parts haunted me. I couldn’t get them out of my head. When I started to write You’ll Never Know, Dear, I knew it was going to have dolls in it, and doll parts would somehow be the key to unlocking the mystery. 

The novel turns out to be the story of a little girl who disappeared with the special porcelain doll her mother made for her; forty years later, the doll comes back. By now it’s old and battered, and creepy the way dolls can be. But along with it comes the hope of finding out what happened to the little girl. (Remember the line that comes after “You’ll never know, Dear,” is “How much I love you.”)

Reviewers have been calling the book a Southern Gothic with “strong characters” and “a vivid sense of place;” a cross between suspense and women’s fiction. That’s my sweet spot. The dolls are an added bonus.


YoullNeverKnowCover-MedFrom the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight comes a novel about a little girl’s disappearance and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to her fate.

Lissie Woodham was only seven years old when her little sister Janey disappeared. They had been in the front yard, playing with their dolls, custom creations made for them by their mother Miss Sorrel, a famous dollmaker. Lissie wandered off for a moment. When she returned to the yard, Janey was gone, and so was her doll.

Now an adult with a college-aged daughter of her own, Lis has never stopped blaming herself for what happened, and it continues to haunt her. Four decades after Janey went missing, her doll comes back. What begins as a small clue in a tragic cold case turns into something far more sinister. The women in Miss Sorrel’s family may be in danger, because whoever knows the truth about what happened all those years ago will do anything to keep it hidden.


HALLIE EPHRON is the New York Times bestselling author of suspense novels. Reviewers call her work “deliciously creepy” and “Hitchcockian.” In Night Night, Sleep Tight she took her experiences growing up in Beverly Hills in a family of writers and wove them into a suspense novel with echoes of a scandalous true crime. Her Never Tell a Lie was adapted for film as And Baby Will Fall” for the Lifetime Movie Network. She is a four-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and author of Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel, an Edgar award finalist.


12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Hallie Ephron”

  1. Hallie, welcome! Such a fantastic book. I always love your writing, but this one is special.

    Past books have been more north – New York, Boston. How did you tackle the challenge of writing a Southern locale?


  2. Oh, this sounds wonderful. Dolls have always creeped me out. Never played with them. Combine the South, a returning doll, and your storytelling skills. I’m reading this in hardback – I want the lights on!


  3. Ooh, the dolls sound like such a wonderfully creepy element! So cool to read about where the idea came from. Adding your book to my list. Thanks for visiting!


  4. I love the creepy, middle grade mysteries by Bethesda, Md author Mary Downing Hahn: “The Doll in the Garden” and “Took,” so I know I will relish your latest novel. Did you ever read “The Story of the Live Dolls” by Josephine Scribner Gates? That was a favorite in my childhood from the Better Homes and Gardens Storybook, published in 1950. Oh, dear, I just gave away a clue to my age.


  5. sorry – getting here late!
    Liz, writing a book set in the south was hard… The language and dialogue had to be, um, adjusted. The pace slowed. The setting itself of course I had to go there. And when I got there I realized Beaufort SC where I wanted to set the book had been so beautifully written already (Pat Conroy ad others) that I needed to fictionalize it.


  6. Kait, Kate, I’m not a doll person, either. And my friend whose doll maker mother inspired the story gave me a doll and no I cannot keep it in my bedroom. Bwa ha ha ha ha


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