Amy, tell us about your inspiration for writing A MATTER OF HEART.
In 2010 I brought my kids to a heart screening at their high school. My daughter and son were both athletes and I’d read about a boy, Anthony Bates, from the same high school who had died of an undetected heart condition some years before. At the screening, I met Anthony’s mom. Wow. I was inspired by the foundation she’d created to bring heart tests to schools and my imagination was captured by the idea of an athlete who lived to compete…and who might die from competition. That’s the day Abby was born.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
As a writer, I think what made this book flow so quickly was that it features a character with a strong, definable goal. (Abby wants to swim in the Olympic trials that take place in three weeks.) I’ve made the mistake of starting with generic goals like “I want to be popular.” Or, “I want to be accepted.” Well, what do those things really look like? How do you know when those goals have been achieved, and what actions will actually take you there? It’s impossible to know when the goal is so cloudy. So my advice to other writers would be to give your characters concrete goals. Definable goals. It not only makes for a more compelling book for your readers, but it makes your job as a writer a lot easier, too.
What's your writing ritual like?
I wish I were one of those writers who has a playlist because it always sounds so cool. But the truth is I don’t listen to music while I write and even when I hear a song that feels perfect for my WIP, I always seem to forget it before I have a chance to write it down.
I tend to talk out-loud as I write, often speaking the dialogue as I type it. Because of that, I ought to stay hidden away at home, but I do like coffee shops and I’ve been known to bribe myself with bagel breakfasts or afternoon bakery sweets to get my butt in a chair when I’d rather be doing, well, anything else.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I’d like to tell you to be patient with yourself.
Writing is really hard work. Fully formed books don’t appear in dreams for most of us. We have to slog our way through many, many drafts. I know that I was very hard on myself starting out, thinking it should be easier, and I should be faster, and I must not have any talent if I can’t figure out a story without making ten wrong turns. But that’s how it is for many of us. So, be understanding of yourself. And keep writing.
ABOUT THE BOOKA Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy Hardcover
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl's Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.
Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that's defined her entire life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORAmy Fellner Dominy worked as a copywriter in the advertising business before leaving to earn her MFA in playwriting. Her plays for adults and children have been staged in various cities around the country. Amy's novels for teens include OyMG (Walker, 2011) and AUDITION & SUBTRACTION (Walker, 2012.) Amy's next book is a contemporary YA coming May 12, 2015 from Random House/Delacorte. It's called A MATTER OF HEART.
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