Character Interview with Author Amy K. Nichols

On a Precipice: An interview with Eevee Solomon of While You Were Gone
by Amy K. Nichols

During a recent writing workshop with high school students, a boy raised his hand and said, “You talk about your characters like they’re real people.” His comment threw me. In that moment, I realized how nutty I sounded, talking about my characters as if they walked alongside me, as if they actually breathed air.

After a ha-ha-no-really-I’m-not-crazy laugh, I explained that writing and revising a novel can take years. It took me about four years to write my first published novel, Now That You’re Here, and then another year of revisions and edits, getting it ready for publication, after selling it to Knopf. The second book, While You Were Gone, was written on a much shorter timeline, but still year and a few months is a long time to spend with Eevee and Danny, the main characters of the books.

So they are like real people to me. I hear them. See them. Even talk to them sometimes. Hopefully, as a result, they’re like real people to those who read the books as well.

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to interview Eevee Solomon, the main female protagonist of While You Were Gone.

But first, let me tell you a little about the books.

Now That You’re Here, the first book of the Duplexity series, tells the story of Danny, a boy who finds himself in a parallel universe where his friends are nowhere and his parents are dead. The only person he recognizes is Eevee, but in this world she’s not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. This Eevee, though—a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom—may be his only hope of getting home. Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension . . . a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

While You Were Gone flips the first book on its head, telling the story of the other Danny and other Eevee in the parallel universe. 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.

It’s been a few months since I’ve spent time with Eevee. Maybe she’ll have some interesting to share.

AN: Hi Eevee. How’s it going? When we last spoke, things were a bit crazy there.

ES: They still are. I’m kind of away from it all out here at school, but we hear stories. Not to mention the sirens going off in the city.  

AN: You haven’t been back to the Executive Tower downtown to see your parents?

ES: Not yet.

AN: What’s that like, being the Governor’s daughter?

ES: Not as glamorous as it sounds. I mean, I get to do a lot of things other girls my age don’t, but there’s a lot of pressure to look and act a certain way. It’s like always being on stage.

AN: Like being watched all the time?
ES: You have no idea.

AN: Is that the biggest struggle? Always being on display?

ES: That and the fact it’s hard to make and keep friends. Sometimes it’s hard to know who you can and can’t trust.

AN: Do you have a best friend?
ES: I used to, but she and I aren’t friends anymore. Let’s just say politics got in the way. I do have some new friends, though, that I know I can trust. Of them, I’d say I’m closest to Warren. You just never know what you’re gonna get with that guy. He keeps me on my toes.

AN: Do you have a boyfriend?

ES: I do. His name is Danny and he’s… I don’t even know how to describe him. He didn’t grow up around here, so he has this completely different take on, like, what’s been happening and how things should be. He’s the bravest person I’ve ever met. He makes me feel brave.

AN: What’s one thing everyone knows about you?

ES: That I’m an artist.

AN: A good one, too.

ES: Thank you.

AN: What’s one thing no one knows but you wish they did?

ES: That I’m not a spoiled rich girl. And I’m not my dad’s policies.

AN: What is on thing you hope no one ever finds out about you?

ES: If I answer that, everyone will know! Hmmm…here’s all I’ll tell you: I opened a door.

AN: Interesting. Do you have any enemies?

ES: That girl I’m not friends with anymore? I consider her an enemy. Also, Skylar.

AN: Describe the Phoenix you live in in three words.

ES: On. A. Precipice.

AN: Wow. Can you describe it in more than three words?

ES: Yeah. Phoenix is a city split between wanting to be safe and wanting to be free. Until recently, it was safe, but being safe comes with a price. Some people are tired of paying that price.

AN: How does living in that kind of world influence you as an artist?

ES: In a whole bunch of ways I can’t even begin to talk about. If I did, I could get in a lot of trouble.

AN: Do you have a favorite artist?

ES: If I tell you, do you promise not to judge me?

AN: Yes.

ES: Van Gogh. I know, I know. He’s on the list, but… I just can’t help myself. Don’t tell anyone.

AN: What do you hope for your future?

ES: That it’s full of art. And love.

AN: I hope so, too. Thanks for chatting with us, Eevee.

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