Author Spotlight: While You Were Gone by Amy K. Nichols (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Amy K. Nichols, author of While You Were Gone (August 4th 2015, Knopf Books for Young Readers), here with an awesome guest post! First, here’s more about While You Were Gone:

While You Were Gone An artist without a cause meets a rebel without a clue.

Eevee is a promising young artist and the governor’s daughter in a city where censorship is everywhere and security is everything. When a fire devastates her exhibition—years in the making—her dreams of attending an elite art institute are dashed. She’s struggling to find inspiration when she meets Danny, a boy from a different world. Literally.

Raised in a foster home, Danny has led a life full of hurt and hardship until a glitch in the universe changes everything. Suddenly Danny is living in a home he’s never seen, with parents who miraculously survived the car crash that should have killed them. It’s like he’s a new Danny. But this alternate self has secrets—ties to an underground anarchist group that have already landed him in hot water. When he starts to develop feelings for Eevee, he’s even more disturbed to learn that he might have started the fire that ruined her work.

As Danny sifts through clues from his past and Eevee attempts to piece together her future, they uncover a secret that’s bigger than both of them. . . . And together, they must correct the breach between the worlds before it’s too late.

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And now here’s Amy’s guest post! Enjoy!

The Duplexity Series: When Fact and Fiction Collide

By Amy K. Nichols

A funny thing happened while writing While You Were Gone, the second book in my Duplexity series: I ran into the real world.

The story begins, literally, with a bang. At the beginning of Now That You’re Here, sixteen-year-old Danny Ogden is at the Patriots’ Day parade when back-to-back explosions throw the world into chaos and catapult him into a parallel universe. I first wrote that scene sometime around 2008. In fall of 2011, I sold the book to Knopf, finished up edits the following summer, and, by spring of 2012, was drafting book two.

On April 15, 2013, back-to-back explosions ripped through the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds more. I remember being sick to my stomach as I tracked Twitter updates and news alerts. I’d been working on a scene in While You Were Gone that dealt with the aftermath of the explosions at the parade when the horrific reality of the events in Boston broke into my fictional world. I stepped away from the story and asked, How can I possibly write this when real people are suffering from an uncannily similar event? It took me a long time to gather up enough nerve to finish working on that scene.

On June 5 of the same year, the Guardian published an interview with NSA informant Edward Snowden, bringing to light sweeping surveillance operations conducted by the U.S. and U.K. governments. I watched the news unfold, my writing interrupted. By this point I was finishing up the second book, which takes place in an alternate Phoenix, where people are monitored by a massive surveillance apparatus. Just as with the explosions, the seeds of this story had been conceived way back in 2008. And here again I was watching reality play out against the pale imitation I’d created in fiction.

Needless to say, I was a bit freaked out. I mean, what a strange coincidence, right? Or maybe it wasn’t coincidence. Maybe I’d tapped into some greater unifying force, or maybe I’d been picking up on societal trends on a subconscious level. When I mentioned the parallels to my mentor, he shook his head and said, “The ideas are out there, floating in the ether.” Was there something to that whole “collective consciousness” idea after all? Whatever it was, it got me thinking. If there was some kind of larger conversation going on, what did I want my contribution to be?


I raise some big questions in the Duplexity series. Now That You’re Here asks, What if there really are parallel universes? What if you could trade places with your parallel self? What if you like that world better than yours? While You Were Gone asks, Which is more important, security or freedom? What if you lived in a world where you’re always being watched? What if there are consequences for not only what you do but also what you think? While I explore these questions—which clearly are rooted in the realities of our world—I don’t have the answers. What I try to offer through these stories, though, is hope. The world can be a scary place. Sometimes people get hurt. The actions of one person can unleash a reaction that turns the whole world on its ear. Sometimes, though, that reaction leads to change. Sometimes good is born out of the bad. Sometimes all it takes is one person to shine a light of hope, both in fiction and in the real world.


AmyNicholsBWsquare About the author:
AMY K. NICHOLS lives on the edge of the Phoenix desert with her husband and children. In the evenings, she enjoys sitting outside, counting bats and naming stars. NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE is her first novel and WHILE YOU WERE GONE is her second.

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