Amy Fellner Dominy lives and writes in Phoenix, Arizona. Her books humorously capture the struggles of the early teen years: learning how who you are veers off from who you thought you were, exploring your possibilities and your limits, and testing out friendship and love.
What attracts you to writing about teens and tweens?
Well, for starters, it’s such a wonderful / horrible time of life, isn’t it? Talk about drama! I still have my journals from that period of time and on nearly every page I was euphoric or devastated—and often both. I fell in love constantly, had my heart broken regularly, fought with my friends, struggled with my place in my family and started to see the world in a different, more independent way. I know lots of people say they just want to forget their middle school/early high school years, but not me. I think that’s where many of us begin to figure out who we are and who we want to be. Those are such interesting questions—I feel as if, in one way or another, those are the questions I’m trying to answer in every one of my stories.
Tatum (the MC of Audition & Subtraction) plays the clarinet. Do you play the clarinet as well? If not, how did you make this aspect of her character authentic?
I did play clarinet in middle school and all the way through college marching band. In fact, I actually began college on a clarinet scholarship. But I was a lot like Tatum in one other important way: I didn’t have natural ability. I had to work really hard at the clarinet and eventually I just didn’t have the talent to continue. I really drew on my insecurities as I wrote the book and hopefully that helped make Tatum more real (and relatable) to readers.
Which comes first for you, plot or character?
It’s kind of ironic because we often pick up a book based on the plot blurb we read on the back cover. But I really believe it’s character that makes us love a book (or hate it) and it’s character that matters most. I’m not exactly sure which comes first for me because ideas form in messy complicated ways. But I do know that even if I set a character off on an adventure, the adventure only moves forward when the character takes action. And then, from the action, comes the plot. So, it’s hugely important to know the characters before the story can move forward.
What can your readers expect next?
I’m really excited about a new project I’ve just finished up. In the past, I’ve created high stakes for my characters, but the internal kind. In other words, Tatum and Ellie were making decisions that would determine the person they would become, but the world wasn’t going to end. In the YA novel I’m finishing up, it’s life or death. Literally. The book is called DETOURS and it’s a kidnapping-roadtrip-love story with a deadly twist. I hope it’ll be ready to submit in the fall.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Donald Maass‘s book Writing the Breakout Novel in preparation for a writing workshop in September. It’s very good, by the way. No matter where a writer is in their career, I always think there are new things to learn (and things you once knew but need to be reminded about.) I’m getting ready to start Book 4 of Game of Thrones (so addicted!) and in YA, I’ve got A.S. King’s newest at the top of my TBR pile.