Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Amelia Diane Coombs (Exactly Where You Need To Be)
The Author: 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, she writes about 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 husband and their Siberian cat. When she isn’t writing or reading, Amelia spends her time playing video and tabletop games, binging her favorite comfort TV shows, and exploring the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of Keep My Heart in San Francisco; Between You, Me, and the Honeybees; and Exactly Where You Need to Be.
The Book: Exactly Where You Need to Be
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
ADC: I’ve wanted to write a book that played into my experiences with OCD for years but struggled with how I wanted to tell the story. I’m very intentional with how I include mental illness representation and I aim to tell a story first and weave in the mental health element second. I’m a huge fan of true crime, and during my treatment for OCD, I became fascinated with the intersection the mental health community—especially the self-advocacy aspect—with podcasts like My Favorite Murder, and the concept for EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE was born!
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
ADC: While I have a soft spot for Florie, the protagonist, I really love Kacey, her best friend. Probably because Kacey was just a ton of fun to write. She’s the complete opposite of Florie (and, to a degree, the opposite of me!) and she pushes Florie out of her comfort zone while still respecting her boundaries. In terms of drafting/revisions, Kacey stayed the same from the initial draft, and she’s basically the best friend I wish I had during high school.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
ADC: The novel! Usually, I have a placeholder title when I begin drafting, and I don’t come up with a title until several revision passes later, or I brainstorm with my editor and marketing team. I’m pretty sure my working title for EWYNTB was “OCD Road Trip Book” (very creative, I know) but the final title came to me early on in the drafting process. I always put together Pinterest boards for inspiration as I draft and revise, and one photo was of a road sign that said, “you are exactly where you need to be” and I fell in love with it as a title!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
ADC: I’ve long admired Jeff’s cover artwork, and I was thrilled to find out that he was the artist for EWYNTB! Throughout the design process, Jeff played around with a lot of different settings, but the tree houses sketches were my absolute favorite. Atmospherically, the tree houses are just too perfect! Also, it’s based off of one of my favorite scenes in the book, which is just an added bonus.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
ADC: I have a fourth Young Adult novel releasing in 2023 titled ALL ALONE WITH YOU, but after that, I’m not sure! I’ve been playing around with another YA, but a middle grade and an adult project as well.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
ADC: EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE is a pretty personal book, and there were many difficult scenes for me to tackle as a writer. I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers, but toward the end of the book, Florie has a few different confrontations/conversations with her mother. They were difficult to write, from an emotional standpoint, but also because they were pivotal to Florie’s arc, and I returned to them with each revision pass. All I can hope is that I did those conversations justice!
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
ADC: Sam, Florie’s love interest, gave me the most trouble throughout the entire revision process, from beginning to end. When I began revisions with my editor, Sam underwent a page one rewrite—he got a new personality, new goals, all that jazz—and it was hard to let go of Old Sam, initially. Now I’m incredibly happy with his character, but it was a journey!
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
ADC: I really hope neurotypical readers can walk away with a greater understanding of the complexities of obsessive compulsive disorder, and that readers with OCD (or similar disorders) know that they can live bright, brilliant lives while coping with their mental health.