What a treat for readers. The Class of 2k11 has churned out so many fabulous books this year - and here's another. Today I'm featuring an interview with Amy Fellner Dominy about her debut novel OyMG.
Congratulations, Amy, on the publication of your novel, OyMG. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
OyMG is about fourteen-year-old Ellie Taylor who goes to a summer speech and performing arts camp determined to win a private scholarship—and discovers she’ll have to hide that she’s Jewish if she wants to win.
You know how people always say, “Write what you know?” Well, I always take that to mean, “Write about the feelings you know.” And growing up as one of the only Jewish kids in my community and school, I knew how it felt to be different. I was proud of my faith, but at times (especially Christmas!) it was just plain hard. I wanted to be like everyone else.
The question is how far will we go to conform and fit in? What part of ourselves are we willing to hide? From that question, Ellie Taylor and OyMG came to life.
I love the premise! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
If I could have held a pencil in the crib, I’d have been scrawling notes on the wooden bars. I submitted my first short story at the ripe old age of thirteen. It was rejected by American Girl magazine—I still have the form letter. I took a break to have a steady job (and paycheck) but even then I found a job where I could write; I was an advertising copywriter. I got serious about writing for kids again in 2004. In 2006, I started OyMG.
Can you describe your path to the publication of OyMG?
It began with a first page. Literally.
It was November 2006. My local SCBWI chapter was having a conference with agents and editors, and I wanted to submit something for the first page panel. (This is a program where the panel of editors and agents read out loud the first page of a book and then offer comments.)
I submitted a first page and the audience loved it—including Caryn Wiseman, an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Partly because of that first page, I signed with Caryn less than a month later.
Unfortunately, writing the rest of the book was much trickier. I stopped and started it for over a year. Finally, in January of 2008, I figured out where I’d gone wrong. I deleted about 25,000 words and dove back in. And finally, I had a completed manuscript.
With the same first page. :)
The book finally went out to editors, summer 2008. I had interest from two editors who asked if I’d revise and resubmit. I did, but for various reasons, those situations didn’t pan out.
The book went out again, summer 2009. This time, it landed in the perfect hands: Stacy Cantor Abrams at Walker Books. I got an offer in August 2009. Nearly 3 years from the time I’d written the first page!
What a great story - I love that you started with the first page only! Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Most “overnight successes” are many years in the making. Be patient with yourself and the process. The trick is to keep writing. Get a critique partner and set up monthly deadlines so you’ll write new pages. Or sign up for a conference and commit to submitting pages. Anything to keep you moving forward. The more you write, the more you learn—about craft and voice and what stories you’re meant to tell.
Such perfect advice. Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I love quotes. I always keep a couple of them stuck to my desk for inspiration. Right now, I have two favorites.
#1 In a world where you can be anything, be yourself. I love this quote because it reminds me that the best, most special thing I can be is myself.
#2 My inner voice hates me. This is my own quote and it’s a reminder not to listen to self-doubts and negativity. I tend to worry and think the worst. This quote helps me to stay positive.
Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I’m excited to announce the sale of a second novel to Walker Books!
Audition and Subtraction is the story of fourteen-year old Tatum who faces competition in her school band from the new boy who just moved to town. Soon, she’s at risk of losing her spot in District Honor Band—and maybe her best friend—in a story of shifting friendships, divided loyalties and unexpected romance. Audition and Subtraction will hit the shelves Fall 2012.
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about OyMG?
Yes! Please visit me at www.amyfellnerdominy.com. There’s more info about myself and the book, including a reader’s guide. You can also watch my book trailer on YouTube.
Thanks for having me Janet!
Thanks for coming, Amy!