Friday, April 13, 2018

[Blog Tour] Q & A with Amy Fellner Dominy + Excerpt of The Fall of Grace

The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy, hit stores and shelves this past Tuesday. A YA about a girl in search of the truth to clear her mother's name, who is accused of bank fraud and her answers lies in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere.

Publication: April 10, 2018 by Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 304 Pages

Grace’s junior year is turning into her best year yet. She’s set to make honor roll, her print from photography class might win a national contest, and her crush just asked her to prom.

Then the bottom falls out. News breaks that the investment fund her mom runs is a scam and her mother is a thief. Now, instead of friends, the FBI is at her door. Grace is damaged goods.

Millions of dollars are unaccounted for, and everyone wants to know where all the money went. Can she find it and clear her mother’s name?

The key to repairing her shattered life seems to lie in a place deep in the wilderness, and Grace sets out, her identity hidden, determined to find it.

But she isn’t alone.

Sam Rivers, a mysterious loner from school, is on her trail and wants to know exactly what secrets she uncovers. As the pair travels into the wilds, Grace realizes she must risk everything on the dark, twisted path to the truth.

Want to learn more about The Fall of Grace? Check out the Q &A with author Amy Dominy and an exclusive excerpt below!

Q&A with Amy, author of The Fall of Grace

Introduce us to Grace and her mother, Janelle.

Grace is 17, an aspiring photographer who prides herself in finding beauty in the world. Her mother is one of her favorite subjects. Janelle Pierce is glamorous, sophisticated and ambitious—she raised Grace all by herself while building a successful financial business. Grace loves her mom more than anything, and she knows her mother loves her. A mother always loves her daughter. Doesn’t she? 

What would be your elevator pitch for The Fall of Grace?

The Fall of Grace is an adventure-suspense-survival-road-trip-romance.

What sparked the idea of writing The Fall of Grace?

It started with Bernie Madoff. I followed the story of the Ponzi scheme he ran—the biggest financial fraud ever that destroyed thousands of lives. I couldn’t imagine how someone could do that. Then I read that one of his sons committed suicide. That stuck with me—the thought of a child discovering that their parent was a monster. What would that be like? The shame. The sense of betrayal. And what about guilt by association? How would you survive that?  

Fast forward a few months.

A flash of a scene came to me: A girl getting on a bus, carrying a knife and a backpack with her father’s ashes in it. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. Where is she going? What is she looking for?

That image eventually lead me to The Fall of Grace, and a first scene where a girl is at the bus station, carrying a knife and a backpack. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. The issues with a father became issues with a mother who was not yet dead…but perhaps dying.

Ultimately, it became a book about family and trust. About how we go on when the people who should love us the most, betray us.

Did you do any research for this book? If so, how did you go about it and why did you feel it was necessary to do so?

As the book began to take shape, I knew I was going to have to do a lot of research.There were so many things I knew nothing about—photography, strokes and comas, the FBI, financial crimes (or financial anything.) The one thing I thought would be easy was the hiking part. Wrong! Even though I’m a hiker, I needed to be familiar with a specific hiking trail. That meant researching mountain trails. Once I settled on Blue Lakes in Colorado, I had to do the hike myself, following Grace and Sam’s path—including taking a wrong turn.

I actually like the research part because I’m learning about interesting things. I about got myself arrested taking pictures of the US Marshals office (not a good idea), but it was very cool meeting with a Federal Prosecutor. The things I learned helped shape the book and I hope that comes through on the page.  

Photography plays a crucial role in the book. Are you a photographer yourself? If not, why did you choose this particular talent for Grace—and Sam?

I’ve always loved photography though I didn’t know much about it other than “point and shoot.” Doing the research was fun but I also discovered there’s a lot of math to it. I struggled to understand f/stops and apertures.

I really wanted them to be photographers because it fit with the greater themes. Grace prides herself on seeing truth in the lens of her camera—but she doesn’t see the truth of her mother. It got me thinking about what do people hide from us—what do we hide from others? I also loved that photography is about the balance of light and shadow. It felt like a perfect fit because Grace and Sam are both dealing with the fact that this is true of people, too.

What was most challenging part of writing THE FALL OF GRACE? Why?

This book goes back and forth between two different time periods. It starts in August, when Grace is leaving town and cuts back to May, when the first news about Grace’s mother comes to light. Weaving in details from two different timelines turned out to work really well, but it was much harder than I expected. Remind me never to do that again. J

The title is perfect. Did you know what you were going to call the book immediately, or did the title come later in the process?

When I started this book, the main character’s name was Eva. I ended up having to change it because, well, I have a weird thing for vowel names. I didn’t realize it until I looked at the names of all my main characters. Ellie (OyMG); Tatum (Audition & Subtraction—this is the one book where my daughter named the character); Abby (A Matter of Heart); Emma (Die for You).  Starting to see a pattern here? So I realized I couldn’t do Eva. Even after I’d come up with Grace, I’d titled the book Half a Step from Heaven. It was my editor who suggested The Fall of Grace. (Thank you, Krista!)

Share a bit about you with us. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? What are your hobbies? What is your go to book/music/movie recommendation of the moment?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid—probably because I loved reading so much that I wanted to make up stories of my own. I’ll read anything if the characters draw me in—I’ve had to stop saying I don’t read Sci Fi or horror or thrillers. I read about people I care about whatever the setting and situation (and whether they’re actual people or not.)  

When I’m not writing or reading, I want to be outside. I play tennis and golf. I run, hike, and bike. Pretty much anything that doesn’t require snow or speed—I’m a wimp who is always cold.

Book of the moment: I just re-read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Amazing!

Have you been betrayed? If so, how did you come to terms with it—or the person who betrayed you?

I never thought of it as a betrayal—not until I wrote this book. But I always had an uneasy relationship with my stepmother who raised me. I had an idea in my head of what a mother-daughter relationship was supposed to be. I read about them every year on Mother’s Day when I went to buy a card at the store. And as much as I wanted a loving mom, I didn’t have that with my stepmother. It’s something I struggled with. They say writing can be therapy, and I think that’s part of what drew me to this story. Grace thinks she has a loving relationship with her mom, but discovers that perhaps she never really did. How does she come to terms with that? How do any of us handle imperfect family relationships? After all, these are the people who are supposed to love us the most. In writing this story and letting Grace and Sam work through those questions, it allowed me to do the same. Without giving away the ending, I hope this is a journey that will help readers who grapple with the same issues.

Where can readers find you online?

Instagram is my new favorite hangout: amydominy. Look for me there! I’m also on Twitter (@amydominy), Goodreads, and Facebook (amyfellnerdominyauthor.)


Is it really only Thursday? I turn off the car and flip open the visor mirror. The golf banquet must have been last night. I wonder if Cecily wore my dress. I wonder if her mother let her. I smooth my hair, spreading it over my shoulders. The deeper shades of brown will start to lighten in the next month or so—assuming I see the sun. It still feels warm from the flat iron. I double-check my makeup. Too much concealer. I rub it in, but the truth is I look like someone who hasn’t been sleeping or eating. 

Martina, who is now my favorite nurse, brings me soup from the hospital cafeteria. I’m so touched that I eat as much as I can. Yesterday, I tried to pay her and her hands flew up. For a second I thought I saw horror on her face. I assumed she must be thinking the things they were saying on TV. 

Stolen money. Dirty money. 

But she gently folded my fingers back over the ten-dollar bill and said, “It’s only soup, Grace, and not very good soup, at that.” 

A car door slams and I jump in my seat, my heart jumping with me. I’ve begun to startle at loud noises. At the sound of footsteps. At the ringer of my phone. I rub at my elbow. This morning in the hospital parking lot something hit me, sharp and sudden. I cried out, and when I spun around, a woman with gray hair and red- rimmed eyes was facing me. At my feet lay a crumpled ball of paper. 

An earnings statement for the Family Fund. 

But there’s no one behind me now. No one in the library parking lot other than a woman with a stack of books in one arm and her hand holding tight to a towheaded boy. 

It’s nice to be outside. It’s the first time I’ve left the hospital before visiting hours ended, and though it’s only been four days, I’ve forgotten how bright the sun can be. How good fresh air and warm asphalt smells. I could lie on the back of my car and nap right here. 

I’ve never been so tired in my life. I’m tired of doctors who don’t come when they say they will or who have nothing to say when they do. I’m tired of scratchy blankets and nurse rotations and terrible food. Mostly, I’m tired of being afraid all the time. Afraid of every odd beep from one of the machines attached to my mom or of the hiss of the blood pressure cuff that I hear in my sleep. Of the sound of every passing footstep, wondering if it’s the FBI. 

The accusations follow me everywhere—even to Uncle David’s house. I’ve been staying there at night, though it’s a half-hour drive from home. Uncle David insisted, worried that it isn’t safe for me alone since the FBI shuttered my mom’s business. People are scared. 

And angry. 

And maybe dangerous. 

Reporters have begun to show up at my uncle’s house, holding annual reports with my face on the cover, asking if I knew my mother was a thief. It’s been hard on my aunt Caroline especially—I knew that—but I was still shocked this morning when I interrupted a whispered conversation in the kitchen. I didn’t hear most of what my aunt and uncle were saying, only the last part, when my aunt said she doesn’t want the stain of fraud to rub off on the twins. 

“I’m not stained,” I said, surprising them at the door of the kitchen. I wanted to say more, but I was crying too hard. I left and I’m not going back. Uncle David came to the hospital a little while ago. He said “I’m sorry” and “It’s a struggle right now with the girls” and “I know you’re innocent in all this,” but he didn’t say “Come back.”

Excerpted from THE FALL OF GRACE. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Fellner Dominy. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Amy Fellner Dominy is the award-winning author of books for teens, tweens and toddlers. A former advertising copywriter and MFA playwright, Amy’s novels include The Fall of Grace (4/18); Die For You; A Matter of Heart; Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Picture books are Cookiesaurus Rex and Cookiesaurus Christmas (2018.) Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two children who occasionally stop by for free meals. 

*via author's website.

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