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Q&A with Amy Mason Doan

AMY MASON DOAN The Summer List (Debut Novel) My review is on the blog.

Hi. Meet the author I chose for my July 3 post. I wanted to highlight a debut author from both the US and Canada and since Amy has a new book out that I loved she is a perfect fit as my US author. She tells me her husband and daughter are Canadian so we will partly claim her too! Reading this book it is hard to believe this is a debut. Do yourself a favour and pick up this book this summer. It’s a great story of friendship which is a subject I love to read about. Looking forward to more books from her. Here is what we chatted about.

  1. Were you a reader as a child?

Yes, I’ve always been a voracious reader. I devoured everything by Beverly Cleary, Paula Danziger, Judy Blume, Maud Hart Lovelace, Noel Streatfeild, and Betty Miles. When I was a pre-teen I used to sneak adult books from my grandparents’ study—John Irving’s The World According to Garp and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Maybe I was a little young for them, but I found them fascinating and they absolutely shaped me as a writer. Now that I’m a mom I’ll let my 12-year-old daughter read anything as long as we talk about it.

2. What were you doing before you became a writer and are you writing full time now? Is there another book coming soon?

I’ve been a journalist for decades. I majored in English at U.C. Berkeley and went to graduate school in Journalism at Stanford, and I’ve worked on staff and as a freelancer for a dozen magazines and newspapers up and down the west coast. I turned to fiction only a few years ago, but I still think journalists have one of the most important jobs in the world.

I have a second novel coming out with Graydon House next summer, and I’m so excited about it! It’s a female, contemporary nod to The Graduate with shades of The Sure Thing, so it’s sexy and funny and heartwarming, and there’s a road trip up Pacific Coast Highway. We starting to look at covers so it’s becoming real. I can’t wait to get it to readers because I adore the characters and the story.

3. When did you know you wanted to write a book?

I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I could read, but I didn’t have the nerve to try until after I turned 40.

4. Your book The Summer List deals with friendship. Did you have a close friend growing up like Laura and Casey?

I had a series of good friends, but they often moved away, breaking my heart. So there’s a bit of wish fulfillment in THE SUMMER LIST. I would have loved to live just across the lake from Casey.

5. How did the story come to you and had you decided on the whole plot upfront or as you went along?

I knew I wanted to write about girlhood friends reuniting as grown women after a mysterious rift, but for many months it was only a vague idea and some mental images of the characters. Then I was camping with my family by the Oregon coast and a pack of kids ran up asking for a Graham Cracker. Their parents had sent them on a scavenger hunt to entertain them, and I couldn’t shake the idea of two grown women on a scavenger hunt. I thought that if I handled it right, it could be funny and poignant. From there I realized that my characters would have to do scavenger hunts growing up, so that there’d be a good reason for the adult game. The story built layer by layer.

6. The descriptions in the book were amazing. You could envision the girls' kayaking and swimming. The description of the roller rink was so great too. The city where I live just closed their roller rink down and it sounded so similar to the one in the book. Did you have these adventures growing up?

Thank you! I based the fictional town in the book on the beautiful lakes around Tahoe and Pinecrest in Northern California, where I spent many childhood summers. And the “Silver Skate” in the book is loosely based on the “Golden Skate,” a skating rink in Northern California where I spent most of my Friday nights as a preteen and teen. If I could, I’d build my own skating rink. There’s nothing like whipping around and around listening to music.

7. Switching gears a bit here. What is your favourite genre to read?

I mostly read contemporary fiction and classics. Right now I’m reading Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman, and it’s hilarious and smart. Some of my favorite authors are Anne Tyler, Anna Quindlen, Sue Miller, Curtis Sittenfeld, J. Courtney Sullivan, Wallace Stegner, Kristin Hannah, Charlotte Bronte, and Alice Munro.

8. Do you have any fun facts about yourself that will surprise us?

I put ice cubes in my milk. I know, I know. It sounds so weird. But I’ve done it forever.

9. What are your plans for Independence Day?

We’re having a neighborhood block party with lots of food, fireworks and music. In my neighborhood in Portland, kids still run from house to house all summer. Shout out to Canadian readers -- my husband and daughter are dual Canadian-American citizens, so we celebrate both Canadian and American holidays.

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