Connecticut-born Robin D’Amato moved to New York City to attend New York University, fell in love with the city, and never left. In 1984, she was introduced to the Macintosh computer and has worked in the publishing industry as a pre-press specialist ever since. She also spent several decades pursuing dance and choreography. Her first novel, Somebody’s Watching You, won a 2021 second-quarter Firebird Book Award for fiction. She currently lives in Manhattan’s East Village with her 3,000-LP music room and two cats.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Don’t Poke the Bear was the title I used when I first started writing the book. It was a reference to New York City, a character in the book, and a reference to the boyfriend of the main character.
Somebody’s Watching You, my first book published by Atmosphere, was a name chosen later in the process. The original title was The Devil Always Wins. The editors pointed out that this title was too negative, and suggested I come up with something else. Somebody’s Watching You was a song reference in the book (a song written by Sly Stone and covered by his sister’s group, Little Sister). It perfectly summed up what was going on in the book, and I think ultimately was a better choice.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I had an assignment in fourth grade to write a story from the point of view of Christopher Columbus. I found it to be a lot of fun, and I got an A. Was hooked after that.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
A friend on whom I based one of the main characters was touched I would include him in a book. He went on and on about it. That was amazing. Professionally, I got a positive Kirkus review which made me very happy.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
This book has a soundtrack included. A friend of mine played each song as it was mentioned so that she could fully appreciate the significance of the songs.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I have a WIP about a female basketball player in a time when there was no WNBA. Also, I just bought a guitar. I haven’t played for decades but my cousin had a new Gibson he no longer plays and sold it to me for basically nothing.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Working with Atmosphere was a great experience. The editors gave suggestions about things I had struggled with (without knowing I had struggled with them) and the designers for my cover(s) followed my design samples and instructions and made fabulous covers.