I’m so happy to welcome Amanda Ashby, who has consented to do a Q&A on my blog to celebrate first YA release The Zombie Queen of Newbury High — out today!!! I’ve been so lucky to get the chance to read both of Amanda’s books (Zombie Queen and You Had Me At Halo) and I can tell you she’s absolutely fabulous! I gave her a quote for Zombie Queen. I said:
“Zombie Queen of Newbury High is a delicious treat! Who knew zombies could be both fun and funny? It’s Zombilicious!”
ZOMBILICIOUS!!! It’s a word.
Plus, she lives in one of the most beautiful countries in the whole world — New Zealand. I got to meet her — if only for a very brief time — this past summer in San Francisco at RWA Nationals. Amanda rocks! And, to show she rocks even more, she’s giving away a signed copy of Zombie Queen to a commenter today! So comment, people! Comment!!!!!! (no pressure)
Tell us about your book — what’s it about?
Zombie Queen of Newbury High is just an average cautionary tale of what happens when Mia Everett tries to do a love spell to stop her prom date from dumping her and instead ends up turning the entire senior year into zombies. Seriously, it could’ve happened to anyone. Of course the kicker is that not only are they all turning into zombies but she is now at the top of their new diet unless she and zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller can find a cure.
What inspired you to write about zombies, especially teenaged ones?
I wish I could say that I’ve been a hardcore zombie fan for years and years but the truth is that not only do zombies scare me but it’s a pretty funny word as well. I mean you think zombies and you think gorefest. Anyway, I had joked for ages that I was going to write a zombie book and eventually I decided that perhaps I should do one for real. As for why I made it a ya? Well, I just really love teen books and teen culture so it just seemed to make sense.
You live in New Zealand, but your book is set in the United States. Were there any problems getting the voice of an American teen on paper for you?
Ever since I first clapped eyes on The Brady Bunch, I’ve tended to watch a LOT of American television shows and movies, especially teen ones so I think my writing voice is quite US orientated anyway. Of course because I grew up in Australian and I’ve also lived in the UK before moving to New Zealand, I do sometimes manage to stick in a few weird phrases that have had my editor scratching her head (aka saying ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about here so perhaps we could change it for some words that actually make sense!’). But on the whole, it hasn’t been too hard at all.
I get the feeling from reading Zombie Queen that the author (aka you) may be a little bit obsessed with the Buffyverse and the brothers from Supernatural. What is it about these shows that you love, and what other shows are rocking your paranormal universe?
The thing I love most about both shows is the way they used juxtaposition to really show the balance between light and dark by a series of carefully planned contrasting events, and…oh, hell, who am I kidding? My real reasons can be summed in four lovely little words — Angel. Sam. Dean. Hot Dad (okay Hot Dad is two words but it is wrong that I love Sam and Dean’s dad as well?) (Michelle says: No, not at all). Anyway, as you can see I’m all about the pretty guys, but the other thing I love about both shows is that the dialogue is so snappy and fun – and I’m sure the juxtaposition is really great as well (if of course I knew what that meant!!)
As for what other shows I love. Well, I was a big, big fan of the first season of Dark Angel though it went a little weird in season two but I still watched it. Firefly was great and I’m a latecomer to Battlestar Galactica but am definitely feeling the love of Apollo’s arm muscles. Oh and lately I’ve become a big fan of the movies Day Watch and Night Watch and if you haven’t seen them yet then I can definitely recommend them!
Of the non-paranormal variety I’m still a big fan of Friends and I’m grateful that one of our stations over here plays repeats all year round – I swear I laugh more each time I see them!!!!!
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Oooh — cruel question. Why don’t you just make me choose between my kids. I have different favorite books for different things but perhaps the one that made the most impact on me when I first read it was The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin.
Toss up between Princess Bride and Clueless
If Zombie Queen because a movie, who would you cast in the main parts?
Argh — I’m so bad at this game and I never really imagine my characters as real actors so it gets hard for me to try and match people up. Perhaps Robert Pattinson for Chase since he’s okay looking (isn’t he Michelle???) (MIchelle says: Yes, Amanda. Yes he is) and Emma Roberts for Mia. As for who would play Candice, I have no idea but I’m sure they would have a lot of fun doing it!!!!!
What’s next for you with your writing?
My next book for Puffin is about a girl who goes to an elite slaying skill and suddenly starts to see invisible, killer fairies that no one has ever heard of. Unfortunately, due to a small incident something along the lines of the ‘girl who cried wolf’, no one will believe her and she’s forced to try and fight the fairies on her own (did I mention they were killer ones??!!!). And right now I’m working on a mid-grade book as well as another young adult idea that I’ve had for a long time and have finally decided to try and breathe some life into it.
Thanks, Amanda!! You can visit Amanda at her website at: www.amandaashby.com
Amanda will be picking one winner from the comments (on this blog as well as my LiveJournal mirror blog) on Saturday, March 8th. Good luck!