True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Amy Dunne

Amy Dunne was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology. After graduating she worked for a while with vulnerable young people. She is currently setting up her own speech writing business and concentrating on her writing. She is married to her beautiful wife, Lou. They have two gorgeous cats and a mischievous dog. 

Connect with Amy Dunne on Twitter @giftofthegaborg or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Amy Dunne:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Secret Lies is unique in that it doesn’t shy away from the slightly darker issues that some young adults experience. I worked for a number of years with vulnerable young people and it really impacted on my life.

    Self-harm and abuse both play a pig part of in Jenny and Nicola’s lives. I wanted to raise awareness of these subjects but also give an insight that some people might not otherwise see. It was difficult getting the balance just right. In no way did I want to make either subject gratuitous, but I did also want to do them justice. I hope I’ve gotten the balance just right.

    The story also explores how Jenny and Nicola overcome these issues. That’s a really important part of the book. No matter how scary and dark things become, there’s always help and support available.

    I should probably point out that the story isn’t all doom and gloom. Far from it. The experience of first love is a wondrous thing. There’s laughter and drama all thrown in the mix.

  2. If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?

    “Amy, you’re a lesbian. Surprise!”

    Well, maybe I’d not say it in quite that way. Knowing my teenage self as I do, I wouldn’t have listened anyway. In my head I was still thinking about becoming a Catholic nun. My reasoning at the time was as follows: I’d watched Sister Act too many times, I didn’t have to go near guys, and I’d be locked away with a bunch of repressed women. Thank goodness I finally saw sense.

    What I’d really say to my teenage self is, “Everything’s going to be just fine. You’ve got some amazing things to look forward to and a few difficult times ahead as well. Just keep on being you and follow your heart. It’s worth it in the end.”

    What would my teenage self say in return? I imagine it’d be, “Err, okay. Thanks. Do I really put on that much weight?”

  3. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    Yes, there are a few things.

    Jenny confesses to watching Sister Act repeatedly as a child. I did that but took in one step further and genuinely considered becoming a nun.

    Jenny’s parents are Irish. Both sets of my grandparents are Irish and a lot of the mannerisms are the same. Such as: feeding large portions of home cooked food, the nosiness, the great sense of humor, and the closeness / importance of family.

    Home cooked food is important in Jenny’s family home. It was important in my family home too. Perhaps it’s the Irish in us, but we’ve always had lots of mash potato. I drive my wife crazy because it’s still one of my favorite foods and I insist we have it at least twice a week if not more.

    Nicola is an avid reader, (Like me) and for her coursework she’s reading, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is one of the books I read and wrote an essay about when I was in college.

    Nicola isn’t a huge fan of drinking alcohol but in the end she quite likes cider. I drank cider occasionally as a teenager and I still drink it to this day.

  4. Which of your characters is most like you?

    Would it be cheating if I said both? Well, I’m going to say it anyway.

    Jenny is fiery and has a bit of a temper. She feels like no one really knows her and she’s terrified of being seen as different. Accepting her attraction to Nicola is a huge deal. She’s also incredibly caring and protective beneath the surly exterior.

    My teenage self was pretty much the same with the exception that I totally ignored my feelings for women and buried them deep down inside. I didn’t come to terms with my sexuality until I was in my mid twenties. So, I have huge respect for characters like Jenny and all of the young people who are brave enough to accept who they are at such an early age.

    Nicola is great at listening and is sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. She loves reading and devours one book after another. When she starts to think she might be gay she buys lots of lesbian themed books and DVDs online.

    I did this too. I spent a small fortune one night and then had to hide them all around my room so no one would find them. They opened my eyes to what life as a lesbian was really like and went on to help me accept who I was. I’ve also always been sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. My sister and mum are the same. Even today we still have people telling us their deepest darkest secrets. Thankfully, like Nicola, we’re all great at keeping secrets.

  5. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    Bold Strokes Books has an incredibly talented graphic artist named Sheri. I was curious to see what she’d come up with. A number of varying designs were e-mailed to me and this one stood out among the others. It far exceeded my expectations. I love it as much today as I did when I first saw it. The girl on the front looks like how I described Jenny. The intense expression on her face, the tussled hair, and the interlinked fingers all show that she’s considering something serious. The jagged tear down the front suggests something dark and broken. The red text emphasizes the title and in conjunction with the image sets the mood perfectly for the story. It’s dark and gritty. Have I mentioned that I love it? Because I really do.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Firstly, I’d like young readers to enjoy reading my novel. I hope they feel represented in the characters, story, and the emotions that are explored.

    When I was a young adult I remember reading everything I could get my hands on just to see if I could relate to the story and characters. More often than not, this wasn’t the case.

    This was the driving force behind writing Secret Lies. I wanted to give an honest portrayal of what life can be like for queer youth today without shying away from some of the serious issues. As a result the story is a little gritty and deals with some dark themes such as abuse and self-harm. It also explores the positives that come with experiencing first love, sexuality, and self-acceptance.

    I hope readers take solace from Jenny and Nicola’s story. No matter how dark and difficult life can seem, this won’t always be the case. For young people who are experiencing self-harm or abuse don’t be afraid to seek help. There are resources and support available. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Never apologize for who you are and who you love. There’s a wealth of support, love, and incredible opportunities in the world, just waiting for you.

Now Available from Amy Dunne:

Secret Lies Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize that she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

Secret Lies Giveaway!

Amy Dunne has generously donated a free paperback copy of Secret Lies for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 8th.


  1. This sounds wonderful! As a young adult librarian (aspiring) and lesbian, I am always on the lookout for great reads for LGBTQ teen and tween readers. Thank you for contributing to the literature and giving young people a story they can identify with. =)

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Vagabondia.
      I hope you enjoy reading Secret Lies. It's a story that's very close to my heart. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
      I wish you lots of success with becoming a YA librarian--it's a job that has always appealed to me. :-)
      All the best,

    2. Vagabondia, congratulations, you're the winner of the giveaway contest. Please contact us with your email address so we can send you your prize.

  2. This is a great story and the characters are REAL. Not only is it a good read for a younger audience, but this old girl found it very moving and interesting, as well. :-) Life and love aren't always smooth sailing, but with love, support and our own strength and courage, we can get through anything... just like Jenny and Nicola. Thank you for a wonderful story, Amy, and for your honest and insightful answers to the questions above.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Cowgirlcap.
      It's wonderful to hear that you've already read Secret Lies and found in both moving and interesting. I like to think it's a book that everyone can enjoy. I've been fortunate to hear from readers of varying ages and it means so much that even though it's classed as a YA novel, that doesn't put mature readers off.
      I appreciate you taking the time to read my Q&A and leave such a lovely comment. Thank you.
      All the best,

  3. I enjoyed this discussion about Amy and her book. Secret Lies has been on my to-read list for a while. :)
    I'd like to be entered for the giveaway.
    nimbike (at) yahoo (dot) ca

    1. Thanks for reading my Q&A and posting a comment, Lisa.
      I hope when you get around to reading Secret Lies you thoroughly enjoy it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.:-)
      All the best,

  4. This book sounds so good. It is in my "To Read" list! Congratulations Amy.

    1. Thank you for reading, commenting, and the congratulations, Liz.
      I hope you enjoy reading Secret Lies. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. :-)
      All the best,

  5. What a wonderful Q&A, Amy. The part where you talk to your younger self was wonderful. I also love your message to young readers. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us, and I hope you find many readers for Secret Lies.

    caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Carolyn.
      Thinking about what to say to my younger self was certainly an interesting experience. I couldn't help but smile when I remembered just how overly confident and self-assured I was back then.
      The message was the part that was most important to me. I want young people to know they're not alone. There's a huge worldwide LGBTQ community just waiting to meet them. The future should be an exciting prospect, not one filled with dread and worry.
      Thank you for your kind words. :-)
      All the best,