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Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Amanda Panitch here to share about her YA thriller DAMAGE DONE. It sounds like a real page turner that’s gotten great reviews from readers. Amanda is also an associate literary agent at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .

Hi Amanda! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I can't remember a time when I wasn't a writer - I have piles of handwritten stories in notebooks from elementary and middle school, and a folder of Microsoft Word documents from high school and college. When I'm not writing or editing manuscripts, I work in book publishing, run in Riverside Park, and cultivate a respectable cookbook collection in my tiny kitchen.

2. That's awesome that you always wanted to write and did it consistently. Where did you get the idea for DAMAGE DONE?

I was reading an article about a suicide bomber, and the article mentioned, in passing, the bomber's siblings. That got me thinking: what would it be like to grow up with someone who had done such a terrible thing, and to balance your grief at their death with your guilt and horror over said terrible thing? My protagonist, Julia, grew from there.

3. I'm always amazed at how ideas like yours are in our every day world. I read that you’ve written about seven trunk novels before DAMAGE DONE. What did you learn from this process, and how did it help you in writing this book?

I learned a lot about plotting and revising, but the most important thing I learned from those trunk novels was when and how to set something aside when it just isn't working. Sometimes, for whatever reason and no matter how much you keep editing it, a book isn't going to be a commercially viable project. I'm by no means saying you should give up easily or not try a bunch of agents and/or publishers, but if you stay stuck on one book for years and years and forgo other projects, you might never get the chance to grow as a writer and write the book that WILL work.

4. I have one of those books.  DAMAGE DONE is a thriller and keeping the tension up in the plot seems critical. What are your tips for doing this and writing a thriller in general?

My general rule was that if I was bored writing a scene, the reader was probably going to be bored reading it. Any time I felt myself stalling a bit, I'd drop in a piece of new information or insert a twist.

5. That's a good rule of thumb. Share about the character development of Lucy (Julia) and her relationship to her twin brother. What challenges did you face in creating both of them?

It's tough to answer this question without spoilers! The hardest part, I think, was figuring out Julia's
complicated feelings toward Ryan: she loves him, because they're twins and they were often all each other had growing up, but she's also frightened of him and afraid of what he's capable of. Even once he kills their classmates, including her boyfriend and her best friend, she can't bring herself to hate him or completely disavow their relationship.

6. Even though you’re an associate literary agent, I read that you didn’t tell anyone you were a writer too and didn’t try to use your agent contacts to get your own agent. Share how Merrilee Heifetz became your agent and how you got your book deal?

I queried a couple of books (unsuccessfully) in college, and started working in publishing soon after. The thought of querying while working in publishing made me queasy - I didn't want anyone to feel obligated to read my book, and I didn't want anything (like, if they didn't like it) to taint my working relationships with colleagues. I ended up participating in an online pitch contest, where my name wasn't attached to my submission, and ended up receiving a few offers of representation through that. I also sent the book to Merrilee, who I'd interned for in 2011-2012, and the rest was history.

7. I didn't think about how querying someone you work with could be awkward, but you're right.  What are you planning to do to help promote your book? What advice do you have on this for other authors who are planning out their book release?

I'm taking it one day at a time. I'll be having a launch party at Books of Wonder in NYC on release date (all are welcome!) and I'm participating in blog interviews and guest posts. I have a more-than-full-time job right now so it's hard to carve out space to go on tour or do events far away, but I'm hoping to take some vacation days and do some more readings or panels. My advice is not to stress too much over the little things, and don't feel like you have to say yes to everything - better to give your best efforts to a few things than stretch yourself too thin.

8. I like the don't stress out advice! What are you working on now?

I'm working on edits for my second YA novel, NEVER MISSING, NEVER FOUND, which will be released in Summer 2016. It's a stand-alone psychological thriller inspired by my summers working for Six Flags: Great Adventure (though there's significantly more kidnapping and murder in the novel than there was in real life).

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Amanda. You can find Amanda at:

Author website: www.amandapanitch.com
Order links for signed/personalized copies:

Amanda has generously offered a copy of DAMAGE DONE for a giveaway.  To enter, you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through August 1st. I'll announce the winner on August 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S. only.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author David Fulk and a giveaway of his MG adventure RAISING RUFUS.

Next Friday I'm participating in the Beach Reads in August Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great books to choose from.

Then I'm off until September 2nd. I just didn't see any great books to spotlight in August and it tends to be a quiet month. I will be stopping by your blogs though. I just won't be posting.

Hope to see you on Monday!  


L. Diane Wolfe said...

It would be really awkward to query a manuscript at your own firm.

Congrats on your release, Amanda.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Good interview. This sounds like a great book. Sad, though, given the issues. I like Amanda's professionalism in not wanting colleagues to feel obligated to read her book.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congrats on your book, Amanda! It sounds like an exciting and compelling read.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have been hearing a lot of good things about Damage Done. I can understand her awkwardness about querying her colleagues. Good luck to Amanda.

Unknown said...

Follower via Bloglovin (Kaitlyn Abshire)! Also mentioned this giveaway on Twitter @kaitlynmanuel. My email is: caitlynmanuel(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks for the giveaway, I have heard some good things about this book so far!

cleemckenzie said...

It's tricky to know when to set something aside. Great that you understand that and do it! Congrats on the book, which sounds fascinating.

cleemckenzie said...

It's tricky to know when to set something aside. Great that you understand that and do it! Congrats on the book, which sounds fascinating.

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats and best of luck on your second novel too!

Jenni said...

Congrats, Amanda! I especially liked your advice about knowing when to move on to another project. And it was interesting hearing about querying as an agent. I've won a lot of books lately, so please don't enter me in the giveaway.

dolorah said...

So often family members get very bad press when kids become terrorists. Its hard not to think of the family as evil too though. Loved the premise, and the character Julia seems well rounded.

Congrats on the release. Interesting writing journey.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats to Amanda. Sounds like a great story. Too bad it's not an audiobook.

Greg Pattridge said...

So exciting for Amanda's dream to finally be realized. It's great that she got no favors and her work stood on its own. Best of luck with this one and all of her future novels.

Anna said...

I read this book as an ARC and it was absolutely fantastic! A huge congrats to Amanda on her debut novel, I can't wait for other people to read it so I can talk to someone about it!

mshatch said...

This sounds like an intriguing read. Congratulations to Amanda :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, Amanda!
Her brother did something horrible? What a tough position to be in.

Karen Lange said...

Appreciate the intro to Amanda, Natalie. Love the advice and the "one day at a time" mentality.

I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Have a good week!

Beth said...

This book sounds excellent. I'd love to read it!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations, Amanda! I've been seeing the title DAMAGE DONE all over the place, so there's quite a bit of buzz out there! This sounds terrific, and I hope you have an amazing launch!

Michael Di Gesu said...

All the best, Amanda....

It sounds like a very intriguing story.

Hi, Natalie... Hope all is well!

Liz Brooks said...

I'm so glad Amanda is getting published--seven trunked novels is a lot. I saw Damage Done advertised a while ago, and I haven't stopped drooling since. Eventually I need to get my hands on it, and also on her next book. I've only recently realized, in the past couple years, how much I love thrillers.

And wow, I hadn't thought about it, but I can understand how it would feel awkward querying your manuscript when you're an agent. I'm glad it wasn't too awkward for Amanda in the end.

Thanks for the giveaway! I tweeted about it. https://twitter.com/adelethelaptop/status/623439694001520640

Teri Polen said...

Congrats on the book - it sounds really interesting! With seven trunked novels, you're an inspiration for me to keep writing and hang in there.

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the giveaway--I love the titles of your books. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/623496869692309504

Unknown said...

I would love a chance to win a copy of this book. Sounds like a "killer" *ahem* read.

Rosi said...

Gosh, this sounds like a good book. I have been hearing a lot about it lately and really want to read it. Thanks for the interesting interview. I always thought being in the business would be a huge advantage, but maybe not.

Rhi said...

Thanks for the giveaway. The book sounds really good. I enjoyed the interview too.

I subscribe via email: rbarckhaus (at) gmail dot com

S.P. Bowers said...

"the most important thing I learned from those trunk novels was when and how to set something aside when it just isn't working"

So true, and so hard to learn sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for the giveaway.

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations, Amanda! Querying is tough and I bet even tougher when trying your own firm.

M Pax said...

Intriguing plot. Congrats, Amanda! I do the same with those boring bits... or axe them.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Amanda! I loved hearing how you came up with the idea of the story. That's a great rule about the boring parts.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Amanda. Those twenty-two minutes sound chilling and sad. What an intense story line.

bison61 said...

read the interview interesting comments on the twins

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

jpetroroy said...

I've heard great things!

Stephen Tremp said...

Love the answer to number 2. I saw where the sister of that idiot Dylann Roof had her wedding interrupted when he shot up the church in South Carolina last month. I wonder what she went through. Must be a terrible situation to be in.

Good luck to Amanda Panitch and DAMAGE DONE!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed Amanda's interview. My favorite part was where she talks about both knowing when to give up on a novel, and realizing that you can only grow as a writer if you work on new ideas and new projects. Wishing her much success!

Meredith said...

Congrats on your new book and doing things the "right" way as you see it! Good luck with your future efforts too! meredithfl at gmail dot com

Stina said...

Never Missing, Never found sounds like my kind of book (and the kind of book my son might like.

Great interview. I always love reading about how authors landed their agent.

Maranda Hymes said...

Never Missing, Never Found sounds interesting. I'll be sure to watch for that one next year! :D And the idea for the featured book, Damage Done really does sound cool, an intriguing concept for sure.

DMS said...

This sounds like a fascinating read. It was interesting to hear where the idea for Damage Done came from and how Amanda got representation. Thanks for sharing!

Marlene Detierro said...

I love Pantich's crisp, creepy prose, her characters and the plot and I can't wait for her sophomore book release next year. DAMAGE DONE would be a great book for her to sequel.

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