The Phantom Tower Blog Tour: Q & A with Keir Graff

I’m super excited today to bring you a Q & A of a fantastic middle grade novel that will be releasing next week. I had the pleasure of asking the author some intriguing questions and reading this adorable, quirky, fun middle grade novel. My review will be up next week, and trust me, I’m recommending getting it on your TBR if you’re looking for a way to dive into middle grade. Shall we find out more about the book and get to this princess’s hard hitting questions?


Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Twin brothers discover their new home is also a portal–for an hour a day–to a parallel dimension in this rollicking middle-grade adventure, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society 

Colm and Mal are twins so identical their own mom can’t tell them apart, but they’re different in just about every other way. Mal’s a pragmatist while Colm’s a dreamer, and they bicker and battle constantly. Neither brother is excited to be moving to Chicago for a fresh start with their mom just after their dad’s death. But nothing cures homesickness like intrigue–and their new home, Brunhild Tower, has plenty of it: mysterious elderly neighbors who warn against wandering the building at midday, strange sounds in the walls, and an elevator missing a button for the thirteenth floor.

One day, that button appears–and when the doors open on the missing floor, the boys are greeted by the strangest puzzle yet: a twin building that is stuck in time and bustling with activity. All of Brunhild Tower’s former residents live on in this phantom tower, where the rules of the real world don’t apply. But when the brothers and their newfound friends discover they’re all trapped by an ancient curse, they must band together to set everyone free before it’s too late.

Questions and Answers:

Who would you not want to run into at Brunhild Tower?

I know I should probably say Professor Parker, but I think I have to go with Dante, because he moves so slowly and I’m very impatient!

What characters would you investigate a mysterious apartment building with?

From my book, I’d happily explore with Colm, Mal, and Tamika. In real life, I’d pick my own big brother, Sean, because he’s agile, daring, and probably willing to climb the rickety ladder everyone else is afraid of. (And he’s kind of a character.) For a character from someone else’s book, I’d pick Claudia Kincaid in E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She seems to be pretty good at finding her way around a big, empty building!

Brunhild Tower seems like a quirky, exciting place that is equal parts mysterious and magical (thankfully not too The Shining like). Did you base it off any real towers/apartment buildings?

Funnily enough, when I told one of my friends about the book I planned to write, he said, “It’s like The Shining meets ‘Hotel California’—for kids.” Not a bad description! I found the inspiration at home, in my own building. About five years ago, my family moved into a 1930 high-rise on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Unusually for the location, there is a large surface parking lot next door, which we learned had originally been the planned site of an identical tower. The tower wasn’t built due to the stock-market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. The idea of a phantom tower was born . . . but how would the kids get in? Naturally, through the thirteenth floor!

Incidentally, one of my building’s former names was Brunhild Tower.

I saw on your bio that you write both middle grade and adult mysteries. How hard/easy is it for you to switch between the two? Is there one you find easier to flow?

All books are challenging to write, but middle-grade is just more fun—I get to use my imagination more, and once the books have been finished, the audiences are a LOT more fun to present to. I do think that alternating different kinds of books helps keep me fresh, though I do have to be careful to make sure the tone and content fits the audience I’m writing for. That’s not to say I won’t write about big issues in my kids’ books—after all, Colm and Mal are dealing with the death of their father, and Colm deals with some scary thoughts late at night—but I don’t want my young readers to have nightmares, either!


keir graff

Keir Graff is the author of The Matchstick CastleThe Other Felix, and a handful of books for grown-ups. When he’s not making things up, he works as the executive editor of Booklist at the American Library Association. He lives in Chicago with his wife Marya and his sons Felix and Cosmo–in a building that looks exactly like Brunhild Tower.



August 13 – Book Princess Reviews – Q&A

August 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review

August 15 – AEB Book Reviews – Review

August 16 – A to Z Book Reviews – Review + AGP: You have two twins in your story. They have different personalities. Do you relate more to one than the other one?


August 20 – Cover2Cover – Review

August 21 – YA Book Nerd – Listicle

August 22 – Book Fidelity – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

August 23 – The Reading Corner for All – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

August 24 – Good Choice Reading – Creative Instagram Picture

What do you think? Are you excited to read this? What are some of your favorite middle grade reads? Would you want to stay in Brunhild Tower? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


5 thoughts on “The Phantom Tower Blog Tour: Q & A with Keir Graff

  1. This book sounds interesting, and I love The Mysterious Benedict Society so I know I’ll love this book. Thank you for sharing 💕

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww you’re so sweet Mandy! But you’re right, I add it immediately to my TBR after reading your post LOL!!


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