Debut 2020 Interview: Amelia Diane Coombs!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Amelia Diane Coombs and her novel KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Mason on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Amelia Diane Coombs

Amelia Diane Coombs writes books for young adults. Back in the day, she majored in English and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing. Now Amelia writes unlikable female protagonists, positive mental health representation, and swoony romances with soft boys. She’s a Northern California transplant living in Seattle, Washington, with her partner and their Siberian cat. When she isn’t writing or reading, Amelia happily fills her days beekeeping, playing card and tabletop games, hiking, and volunteering with cats.

Keep up with Amelia: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads 

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Amelia: Thank you so much! And it feels great. Weird, but great. To be honest, it hasn’t hit me yet that my book will be in bookstores. When I saw my first ARCs “in the wild” at ALA Midwinter and came across photos on Instagram, my gut reaction was a panicked “where on earth did you get that?!” because I’m not used to seeing my book in anyone else’s hands other than my own. It’s still so foreign and new!
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What is the hardest?
Amelia: The writing process has a lot of ups and downs—at least for me. But I love love love the feel of writing a new project. There’s a magic to it, and it’s incredibly fun to lose yourself in the possibilities of a brand-new story. I’m a zero to sixty kind of gal, so when I dive into a new project, I’m In It. On the flipside, I’ve struggled with my confidence as an author. Impostor syndrome really plagued me (and let’s be real, still does) the first year or so after my deal. As someone with serious anxiety, publishing can be rough. There are a lot of unknowns and months of silence—it’s enough to send an anxious mind spinning!

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO?
Amelia: For a book with such a unique premise, my conception of this story is rather dull! I began writing KEEP MY HEART in the spring of 2017 when I was on submission with another project. That sub wasn’t going well, and I was in a depressive episode. Overall, not fun times. When I felt well enough to write again, I wanted to write something that was a) ridiculously fun and b) meant something personal to me. I found myself playing around with a story idea about a family-run bowling alley in San Francisco. (I really love the kind of retro cheesiness of bowling.) But that draft was vastly different than the finished product. While working on an early drafts, I found a New York Times article about hustling and action bowling in the 1960s, and a tiny light bulb went off in my brain. Everything else kind of fell into place after that.

The Book Bratz: Which character was your favorite to write? Who was the hardest?
Amelia: I love all my characters, but I had the most fun writing Beckett! Beckett is Chuck’s former best friend—who she hasn’t spoken to in over a year until the start of the book. He’s quite goofy and wears his heart on his sleeve. I also had a blast writing Aunt Fiona, Chuck’s aunt, who is a supporting character. Chuck, however, was a difficult character to write. When I worked with my editor, we decided to expand on the mental health subplot. That was just… hard, as it’s very personal. Working on Chuck’s mental health journey ended up requiring me to do some work on myself. As difficult of a character she was, I’m grateful for her, because she helped me reach a place of acceptance with my own mental health.

The Book Bratz: What was your favorite scene to write? 
Amelia: Oh gosh. I don’t know! I have so many favorites. There’s a scene about halfway through the book where Chuck and Beckett go to Dolores Park in San Francisco. I just… love that scene so much. It’s a great scene, and I loved Dolores Park when I lived in the Bay Area.

The Book Bratz: KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO deals a lot with bowling -- were you into bowling a lot as a kid?
Amelia:I love bowling—and did as a kid—but I’ve never been very good! I have awful hand-eye coordination. Anyway. High school was The Worst for me (and yet I write YA, go figure) and in PE, we would walk to a nearby bowling alley for a unit each year. That was honestly the only time I’ve ever enjoyed a PE class! (TBB Note: Jessica is horrendous at bowling!!)

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO in the future, or do you have another project in mind? Can you tell us anything about it?
Amelia: I very much feel at peace with how I ended Chuck’s story in KEEP MY HEART, and I don’t have any plans to return. However, I consider all my books to exist within the same world, and I’ve had a blast dropping little Easter eggs in future projects about Chuck and Beckett. I’m currently working on edits for my second YA contemporary romance, THE HONEY VEIN, which releases in Summer 2021. (Unsure if we’re keeping the title or not!) This book is just… pure good vibes. It follows Josie, who secretly turns down her college acceptance and decides to spend the summer convincing her very pro-college mom she’s ready to take over the family beekeeping business after high school graduation. Her summer complicates further when she falls for Ezra, their rival’s grandson. It’s like a non-tragic Montagues and Capulets, set in the world of backyard beekeeping. 

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Title: Keep My Heart in San Francisco
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 14th, 2020

Summary: Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco. And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend. So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back ways that go beyond friendship. If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.

Thank you so much to Amelia for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about KEEP MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO and can't wait for it to be out in the world on July 14th! 

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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