The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Deidre Mitchell on “Taylor’s Story”

Written by Deirdre Mitchell, Villanova, PA

Meet Deirdre Mitchell

Deirdre is a junior in high school and attends the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Deirdre enjoys dancing, traveling, and being with friends and family. One of Deirdre’s favorite places to travel was London. At school, Deirdre is a part of the dance company, environmental club, and campus ministry. Deirdre also runs her own non-profit organization, called Community Dress Shop, where she collects prom dresses and gives them to girls who would normally not be able to afford one.

After reading Gripped Parts 1-5, Deidre was asked to share her honest thoughts on some of the main characters and plot points in the series.

Q. How has your opinion of the following characters evolved over the course of the series?


At first, I thought Taylor was selfish because I believed he was not trying to get better. As I read more, I realized that he is trying to get better and find help, it is just hard for him to do. 


At first, I thought Jordan did not care about anything other than parties. But as the story goes on, Jordan turns his views around and turns towards his faith in God. 


I have always liked Marc because he seemed like the most responsible of the Dunkin brothers. I am excited to see where his relationship with Cathy goes. 


I do not have the best opinion on Missy. I do not agree with how she gave Luke the impression that he needs to be a partier for them to be together. Missy should like Luke for who he actually is. 


My opinion on Luke has changed greatly since he was first introduced. I always thought that Luke was Jason’s drug addict older brother. But, he showed his true colors in this book. 


I got to see a lot of Laurelle’s personality in this book. I thought she was such a fun character because she seemed easy going. I cannot wait to see more of her in Gripped 6

Q. What do you hope happens to…


I hope Taylor can persevere and help end the crime/drug ring. I also hope he shares his story with other teenagers, educating them on how damaging and addicting drugs can be. 

Cathy & Chantal

I hope they continue working on their relationship, and it becomes stronger than ever. 

Cathy & Jason

Although I really like Marc, I hope that Cathy and Jason can gain closure and remain friends. 

Luke & Missy

I want Luke to be true to himself and gain self-confidence. In the end, I want to believe that Missy’s feelings for Luke are sincere and that she likes him regardless of him being more of an introvert.

Q. What are you most curious to uncover in Gripped Part 6?

Since no one knew that Pat, Laurelle, Missy, and Luke went to the hotel and were followed there by members of the Billotti crime ring, I am curious to find out how they may help or unknowingly cause some problems for themselves and for Taylor. Of course, I am also very curious to see if Taylor comes out of this safely. 

Q. What did you like best about this book and who is your favorite character in the series at this point?

My favorite part of the book was the scene where Taylor was held at gunpoint. I liked it because it was very suspenseful and kept me wanting to turn the page. My favorite character is Jordan because I liked the way he opened up about his new relationship with God.


Now being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman!

Taylor Dunkin is missing.
The last message Jordan Dunkin receives from Taylor leads him to Taylor’s abandoned Jeep. Each of Taylor’s family members holds a piece of the puzzle, and as the Dunkins begin putting the details together, they are awakened to the possibility they may never see Taylor again.

No one can find Missy Kent.
Missy’s boyfriend Luke Davids last saw her dancing with their friends at a nightclub, but she hasn’t responded to anyone’s texts or calls for hours.

Everything is connected.
Taylor and Missy’s friends are dangerously close to learning the truth, but their ignorance might be the only thing keeping them safe. Every clue is leading them closer to peril.

The fifth book in the Gripped series moves through details at a thrilling pace. Secrets are revealed and lives are at stake. Taylor, Missy, their friends, and their families must figure out who they can trust before it’s too late.

Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.