I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it.

—Amanda Davis

How many of us as writers, sitting before our glowing instruments of communication, of pain, toil, and, hopefully, revelation (or even with just our pencils behind our ears) can say the same?

Amanda Davis was a young writer of rare gift and sensitivity. Her first novel, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, was published on February 18, 2003. The first-person tale of a suicidal high school girl named Faith who runs away to join the circus, and in the process finds the mechanism to deal with old wounds as she discovers herself and the means to endure, the novel is a stunning debut from a woman who was just beginning to find the size and shape of her narrative voice.

She grew up in Durham, North Carolina, one of three children of a physician and a college professor, and she noted that writing was something she had done as a matter of daily habit since sixth grade.

Before traveling with a small circus as background for her novel, Ms. Davis’s work as a public relations writer for a small theatre, as a waitress (for years!), as an editor for Esquire magazine, and as a dead-end employee in a large New York corporation, provided her with the raw material for a number of short stories, 15 of which were published in 1999 in a collection called Circling the Drain.

She received a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Wesleyan University and a master’s in fiction from Brooklyn College. She was an assistant professor at Mills College, Oakland, California, where she taught fiction-writing to both graduates and undergraduates.

Her acumen as a teacher of writers was well-earned, since her fiction, non-fiction, and reviews were published in Esquire, Bookforum, Black Book, McSweeney’s, Poets and Writers, Story, Seventeen, and Best New American Voices 2001.

If it is fair to say of an author so young, Ms. Davis’s work seemed to be informed by elements fantastical, by dreams, and by matters of the surreal and quirkily imaginative. “I’ve never been drawn to the traditional narrative,” she said in an interview with Ron Hogan for beatrice Online, “Even though I can appreciate it, it doesn’t seem to be what I do.”

She wrote often of young love, of youthful indecision, of misperceptions and mistakes. In short she wrote about what she, as a young woman in America today, knew, tempered with a rigorous sense of style and, most importantly, structure.

I have a tendency to write very short things, and a really solid short short is almost like an object. There's such a shape to it. I've been comforted writing shorts that there's a shape, that there's an ending coming. But with a novel, you're coming back to the same thing every day. There's a way in which that's more intimate somehow. The shape is difficult to see because it's larger, but it gives you so much more freedom. You can write whole sections you know you'll take out later, but they teach you something about what's going on. It's been very exciting to me. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm enjoying it.

—Amanda Davis
On Friday, March 14, 2003, after a stop at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina, as part of a publicity tour for Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, Amanda and her parents, Dr. James Davis and Francie Davis, were flying in a Cessna 177 Cardinal piloted by her father. The plane crashed just after takeoff into Old Fort Mountain, 18 miles from Asheville Regional Airport, and all three passengers were killed.

Amanda Davis was 32 years old.

Sometimes it's a line, like "Lily was in love with a boy who chased freight trains." That line was in my head for a long time, the story came tumbling after that. I try to sit down and write every day.

I, for one, miss her already.


Wonder When You'll Miss Me, Amanda Davis, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Circling the Drain, Amanda Davis, Morrow/Avon, 1999
Black Holes, Amanda Davis, Rosen Publishing Group, 1997
Comets and Asteroids, Amanda Davis, Rosen Publishing Group, 1997
Extraterrestrials, Amanda Davis, Rosen Publishing Group, 1997
Our Solar System, Amanda Davis, Rosen Publishing Group, 1997
Space Ships, Amanda Davis, Rosen Publishing Group, 1997
Space Stations, Amanda Davis,Rosen Publishing Group, 1997


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