What's Fresh with Amanda Ashby's Zombie Queen of Newberry High!
Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha-cheerleading goddess and miss popularity- who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She's sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.
Hi Amanda, it's awesome to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
Amanda: I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer since I didn’t for a minute think that it was something regular people could do. I was however an avid reader and then I went onto University to do Journalism and English. I hated the journalism side of it so much because it was all based on the truth (and between you and me, the truth is a bit depressing!). But I still didn’t click I wanted to be a writer until my late twenties. From there I joined RWNZ (Romance Writers of New Zealand) and really started to work towards publication. Unfortunately, despite winning some competitions and getting some promising editor/agent letters it still seemed impossible to breakthrough that magic line between published and unpublished.
Then when my dad died in 2005 I got the idea for what was to become my debut book YOU HAD ME AT HALO. It all stemmed from an imaginary conversation I had with him on the day of his funeral and I wouldn’t say that writing the book helped me deal with my grief, it definitely helped me try and explore what I felt about it, in a way I hadn’t expected. I signed with my agent three months after my dad died and she sold the book two and half weeks after putting it out on submission. We sold it to NAL who are part of Penguin US and it came out in 2007. And I can honestly say it was the most surreal experience of my life!!!
Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
Amanda: Things are so much easier now that my kids are in school because I actually feel like I can get some ‘office’ hours instead of just trying to squeeze the writing in around naps and stuff. These days I check my emails while I’m having breakfast and then after I take the kids to school, I go for a quick jog and then back home. I’d like to say that I get straight to work but normally I spend far too much time on the Internet before realizing that ‘argh’ I haven’t hit my word count for the day. Then I write like a demon until I get it done and then head off to get the kids. Normally I don’t get anymore free time until about eight at night and depending what’s on the TV, I’ll either do some editing or brainstorming before heading off to bed. Of course this is all subject to change at anytime…
I've already shared how much I enjoyed Zombies, but please tell us your take on your novel Zombie Queen of Newberry High and what we can expect from your characters.
Amanda: Zombie Queen of Newbury High was released last week by Puffin US and is the story of what happens when Mia Everett tries to do a love spell to stop herself from getting dumped before prom. However – as so often happens! – her love spell goes wrong and she ends up turning her entire senior year into zombies instead! She then has to work with zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller to find a cure and turn them all back before Mia ends up as first course on the zombie’s new flesh-only diet.
I tried to really make Mia a regular girl and put her in a very irregular situation, so I’d like to think that her reactions are quite normal! Of course I do love me some quirky as well and trust me I got more than I bargained for with Mia’s best friend Candice who came out with the most outrageous things. I’d like to think I had a hand in inventing her, but I really don’t think I did. She just appeared and from the moment she opened her mouth she was trouble!!! As for Chase the hero, he’s the classic case of hidden depths and for ages Mia saw him without really knowing what he was like, but because I was feeling like a very kind sort of author, I gave her the chance to get to know him better and now she owes me. Big time!!!
What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Amanda: My next young adult book out with Puffin is about a girl who goes to a prestigious slaying school. She is determined to follow in her dead mom’s footsteps and be a dragon slayer. Unfortunately she gets stuck with four inch fairies who spend more time in the mall than they do out trying to hurt people. Not exactly the stuff that high destiny is made of. Then she suddenly starts to see another kind of fairy. Of the six foot, killer variety that no one has ever heard of before. However, due to a small misunderstanding, no one believes her and she is forced to fight the killer fairies on her, while at the same time trying to discover how her dead mom fits into it all.
Thanks so much, Amanda! Best of luck! Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Amanda: Okay, I have one favorite writing tip and that is to. Submit. Your. Work.
Seriously, don’t hide it under the bed and hope that some agent with X-ray vision will find it, because they won’t. Actually, I guess I have a second tip as well. Make sure you finish your work so that you CAN submit it. Finishing manuscripts can be tricky business and you really need to use whatever form of bribery works for you.
Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and has spent the last ten years dividing her time between England and New Zealand. When she’s not moving countries, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to watch television, eat chocolate and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that between ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two young children. Her debut adult book You Had Me at Halo has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award. This is her first book for young adults. Visit her on the web at www.amandaashby.com.