Monday, July 24, 2023

Q&A with Amelia Diane Coombs


Photo by Sarah Deragon


Amelia Diane Coombs is the author of the new young adult novel All Alone with You. Her other YA novels include Exactly Where You Need to Be.  She lives in Seattle.


Q: What inspired you to write All Alone with You, and how did you create your characters Eloise, Austin, and Marianne?


A: The initial “what if” that led to All Alone With You actually came to me during the early months of the pandemic.


I’d been listening to the audiobook of Vivek Murthy’s Together: The Healing Power of Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, and as someone who was once a self-proclaimed loner, I was blown away by the negative health (both physical and mental) impacts that loneliness can cause.


Murthy also talked in depth about how senior citizens were the most vulnerable to these chronic health conditions and, for whatever reason, an idea took root! What if a very snarky, lonely girl was forced to volunteer with an equally snarky older woman?


As for the characters, they all came together pretty seamlessly. Eloise is similar to my own personality—I’m an introverted nerd who prefers to spend their weekends playing a video game than doing anything remotely social—and she, more or less, popped out as a fully formed character.

I wanted Austin, as the love interest, to challenge a lot of Eloise’s beliefs and that lead me into fleshing out his character as this very sunshine-y, high energy thorn in her side.


Marianne’s character was the hardest for me to nail—I’d never written a character like her before—and it was daunting, especially since she has a really dynamic, rich background that I can only hope the book does justice.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Eloise and Marianne?


A: Eloise and Marianne’s dynamic is a little complex. Initially, they butt heads due to how similar they are, but Eloise begins to rely on—and love—Marianne as the novel progresses.


Eloise often feels like an outsider in her own family, but she really finds kinship and connection in Marianne that she doesn’t feel with her own parents. But Marianne’s story has a lot of tragedy and Eloise views her not only as a mentor, but a cautionary tale, as well.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: The very first draft I wrote in 2020 had a different ending—although it wasn’t wildly different to the ending that you’ll read in the published novel. Without too many spoilers, the main difference lies within Marianne’s story, which had a much different trajectory in earlier drafts.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: I actually pitched All Alone With You during the later stages of my big picture edits, and my team loved it. Titles are tricky—and they’re marketing tools more than anything else—but I like how it hints at the themes of social isolation.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently working on a new project with my agent right now, but nothing announcement-worthy yet!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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