I’ve got an exciting new YA to introduce you to today, The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy — which is described as “an adventure-thriller with a dash of romance.” Below, you’ll find a Q&A with Amy, an excerpt from The Fall of Grace, plus more about the book AND your chance to win a copy!
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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.)
“Poignant. Thoughtful. Heartbreaking and heart-mending. A careful exploration of how children often pay the price for their parents’ mistakes. The Fall of Grace is Amy Fellner Dominy’s best writing yet.”-Erin Jade Lange, author of Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah
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.