Friday, March 13, 2009

The Zombies are Coming!!! Enter and WIN!!!

Today I have a special treat for you. An interview with author Amanda Ashby who's book "Zombie Queen of Newbury High" has just hit store shelves. I was able to score an advanced copy of the book when I attended Comic Con in NYC about a month ago so I got to read it early! And let me tell you - it's super funny. If you like the humor in my books, you'll love this!

I asked Amanda to stop by and do an interview with me. (Well, virtually stop by - she lives half a world away from me in New Zealand!) Here it is, for your reading pleasure. AND BONUS!!! She's giving away a SIGNED COPY of her ZOMBIE QUEEN to one lucky commenter!!! So read the interview and then leave a comment! I'll announce the winner tomorrow!!

For those who haven't read it, tell us a little bit about Zombie Queen of Newbury High.

ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH is the story of what happens when Mia Everett tries to do a love spell to stop herself from getting dumped just days before prom. Unfortunately, instead of doing a love spell, she accidentally turns her entire senior year into zombies. Seriously, it could’ve happened to anyone. Then she has to work with zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller to try and find a cure before she becomes first course on the zombies new flesh-only diet.

What inspired you to write this book?

Honestly, it all started out as a bit of a joke because there is something so inherently funny about the word zombie and it always makes me laugh. However, the more I joked about zombies, the more I realized it would be fun to actually write about them and so I sat down my horror movie addicted husband and we brainstormed out an idea. And can I just add, that this in itself is a marvel since my husband normally hates brainstorming with me and apart from the zombies, the only other time he has been remotely interested was when I asked him what would be the best way to blow up the world (a subject on which he knew just a little bit too much information for my liking!!!!

Who's your favorite character in the book and why?

Oooh, tough question. I love my heroine Mia because I can totally relate to her. She’s just a normal girl who gets herself into a totally ridiculous situation and is then forced to try and fix it. However, I also love Mia’s best friend Candice who was so over the top and outrageous that every time she spoke I laughed! And the other thing I really liked was that despite their differences Mia and Candice are really good friends who would do anything for each other and I really like that!

Zombies are sooo hot right now! What do you think is the appeal of these braindead creatures?

I know! It’s so funny because when I first wrote this book I’d never even seen another zombie book and suddenly (and completely by accident) I seem to have stumbled onto ‘the new black’ sort of thing! As for their appeal, from a horror point of view I think zombies are pretty scary because while they might not think much, they’re hard to stop, they’re always hungry and they seem to multiple at an alarming rate, so it’s a bit like being caught in a never ending nightmare.

Do you have a favorite zombie book or movie?

Shaun of the Dead is hands down my favorite zombie movie, closely followed by Fido and then 28 Days Later. Also, after careful consultation it has been decided that Serenity can count as a zombie movie so that needs to be in my list because of the whole ‘Nathan Fillion is gorgeous’ thing!!!!

As for books, I love Mark Henry’s Amanda Feral books. Stacey Jay’s You Are So Undead to Me is hilarious (and has such a great cover). I also really, really love SG Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and next up on my zombie reading list is Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I just know is going to be amazing!

Your heroine is a big Buffy fan? Are you, as well? If so, what's your favorite episode? And gotta ask - Spike or Angel?

Hahaha – yes, in one of those strange co-incidences I am a big Buffy fan! Actually when I first wrote the book I just had Mia being a TV addict but my editor wanted me to be a bit more specific and suggested I have her watch something like Buffy. Er, okay, if she insisted!!!!! As for my favorite episode, that’s so hard to decide. I’d probably have to go with the end of season two where Buffy has to kill Angel. It is just the perfect moment of tragedy that it never fails to get me.

As for the big Spike/Angel question, I’m Angel all the way and my David Boreanaz obsession has been well documented. Actually Marta Acosta over at Vampire Wire even made up a lovely Naked David Boreanaz club for me, which I think was very kind of her!!!!!

Are you watching Joss Whedon's new show, Dollhouse? If so, what do you think about it?

Can you hear that wailing noise? That’s me because Dollhouse hasn’t been released yet in New Zealand, which makes me very, very sad! However, hopefully we’ll get it soon or else I’ll be buying the boxed set just as soon as I can.

Okay, back to you and your books! You started out writing women's fiction with "You Had Me at Halo". Why did you make the switch to teen books? Which do you think is more fun to write?

Strangely enough YOU HAD ME AT HALO started life as a young adult book! That’s what my agent signed me on and that’s how she submitted it, but the publisher who ended up buying it wanted me to turn it into women’s fiction by making the heroine 22 instead of 16 and adding 30,000 words. Of course all I heard was the bit about them wanting to buy it and so I did the revisions!

Then while I was waiting for Halo to come out, I decided to write another young adult book just because I had so much the first time around – and this time we actually sold it as a ya which was even better!

I do like doing women’s fiction as well but I honestly think my voice and my ideas are more suited for the young adult market. Plus, it’s where I really love being. I’ve always watched a lot of teen television/movies and most of the books I read are young adult as well so it just feels like a good fit (plus gives me the perfect excuse to watch Gossip Girls and call it research!!!)

You live in New Zealand, but your books are published in America. How does that all work?

It definitely has some drawbacks not living in the same country as where my books are published. For instance I can never just say, ‘oh, I’m going to have lunch with my editor/agent today’, which is what every author dreams of doing!!!! Also, it means I can’t do any physical promotion like book signings or stalking people into buying my books (oh, hang on, apparently that sort of thing is frowned upon over there, so perhaps it’s a good thing I’m over here!!).

Apart from that though it’s all been quite easy. I’ve long learnt to operate on New York time not New Zealand time and since most things are done via email it hasn’t really been a problem. Though, actually the other tough thing is learning to ‘write American’. There are a lot of spelling and grammatical differences that I’ve had to learn. For instance we say ‘mum’ not ‘mom’ and you guys like the letter Z where as we prefer S and we also use a lot more Us as well (organize/organise and labor/labour).

Lots of my readers are hoping to become authors themselves someday. What advice would you give them?

The single best advice I can give you is to remember that you’re telling a story. It’s so easy to get caught up in worrying how to sell your book, or what font you should use (or what you should wear to the Oscars when your book is naturally turned into an award winning movie). But you need to forget about that stuff (well maybe not the Oscar dress, because let’s face it, it never hurts to be organized) and concentrate on creating a story that is so compelling that an editor has stayed up all night just to find out what happens. Of course figuring out how to do that isn’t always easy, but the more you remember your job is to tell a story, the easier that will become.

What's up next for you?

My next young adult book is about a girl who goes to an elite slaying school and wants to follow in her dead mom’s footsteps by becoming a dragon slayer. Instead she gets stuck chasing after four-inch fairies. Not exactly the stuff high destiny is made of! But soon she starts seeing a different kind of fairy – of the killer variety. Unfortunately, due to her earlier complaining (think girl who cried wolf but worse) no one believes her and she is forced to fight the killer fairy on her own while trying to figure out how it figures into her own mom’s death.


Alec said...

First off, the book sounds like it'll be a lot of fun to read! :) I love YA books even though I'm 19. I'm a BIG fan of anything related to myths and legends too. (Ex: Vampires, zombies, unicorns, dragons ect..)(Also, that's what shaped me into who I am. A Gothic chick who loves kick butt female characters who can do anything.)

Second, SERENITY!! <3 Firefly is THE most amazing tv series ever. Aside from CSI, that is. My Dad actually got to meet the cast and has pictures of himself with Summer Glau.

Third, you should send a copy to my aunt at . She's the one who got me into Mari's Gamer Girl. (Which I loved and promptly made a character named after her character!)

Fourth, if you love Zombies and horror, you'd love Garth Nix's Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen. Sabriel is a necromancer who binds the dead instead of waking them. :D It's awesome.

aka Lady Aylin

SavvyChick said...

Hey Mari and Amanda! Can't wait to read Zombie Queen. What a fun and original idea.

Brooklyn Green said...

I like anything from fantasy to anime.
And somewhere in between those to catagorys is "Zombie"! Even thought I can't watch movies about them because I get nightmares XD.. But I'd like to read the book!

Even if i don't win I'll eventually beg my mammmyyy and we'll go to Barnes & Nobles and I'll buy it! Woooo!
I'm 13. I'll be 14 soon. :D
But back to the book.
I expecially liked 'Gamer Girl'!!
My dads gone too (Not like he passed away or anything)
And I like manga alot, I cannot draw though..Well i can sortof but yeaah...T.T... :)
I've heard of Serenity never really watched it. I might watch it on Tv Links later on today.
Oh yeah!
I'd like to win a signed copy of Zombie Queen of Newbury High!
It would be pretty radtastic!
-- Brooklyn

Sorry I got off topic alot..

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun book!!!! Will definetely have to read it...would love to win a signed copy, but will read it either way. I'm actually reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth right now! Zombies make things interesting!
Don't have any type of blog acct. so I'm just going to have to sign in as anonymous.
~Kim Raley

joell26223 said...

I'm excited to get the book ---even if I don't win:) I'm so excited that there are female authors that are writing these types of books that cast female protagonists in these various roles that have been traditionally dominated in YAL by male characters. That's what I'm excited about----it's opened a whole new genre for me that I would typically have avoided. I think a lot of that did start with the advent of Buffy:) I'm curious to get my hands on this and see if I should use it in my YAL class. Thanks for the recommendation!

Joellen Maples

Erika Lynn said...

I love this interview and I think amanda should not write "american" i think it would be fun to read it written "New Zealand"

Rosecitychild13 said...

Even though I'm not the biggest zombie fan, this book sounds so funny. I will definitely be buying it, and the cover looks awesome too. =)

Amanda Ashby said...

Alec - I love ya books as well and I'm a LOT older than 19! They're just the best! And is it wrong that I'm insanely jealous of your dad? I love Summer Glau - she is an insanely great actress! As for huntressreviews, I'm sure they reviewed my first book so I must look into getting them a copy of zombie!!! And finally (hehehe - your fault so for telling me so many great thins) thanks for the Garth Nix recommendation. He's been on my list for ages. Now I'm going to bump him up!!!!!

Hey Savvy Chic - I'm so seeing you everywhere right now! I like it!!!

Hey Brooklyn - thanks for the great comments - I go off topic a lot as well. All the best people do!!!

Hey Kim - I hope you're enjoying Carrie's book, I plan on reading it very soon!!!!

Joellen - Buffy was just such an amazing character because she was so empowered and I always try and make my heroines have some special skill to help them save the day - though unfortunately for them it's not normally something as handy as super strength!!!

Erika - gidday mate, that's ripper that you're enjoying it, but trust me cobber, you don't wanna hear me write like an Aussie or a Kiwi!!! Haha - sorry - couldn't resist. But actually the way I write is pretty natural it's just the odd word or phrase that gets changed (okay and the long rambling sentences that look like they're never going to end!!!)

Rosecitychild13 (awesome sign-in!!!). Oh, I'm so pleased you love the cover - I do as well! And I actually think this is a zombie book for people like myself who find the little critters a bit too scary to watch at the movies!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh jeez people leave long comments. I was just going to say the books sound interesting. Now I gotta beef it up. lol
I love those Garth Nix books as well as Shadow's Children, though that has nothing to do with zombies, it's still pretty good.
I like Generation Dead the best of the zombie books. Dead cheerleaders; who doesn't like that?
haha. So I couldn't leave a long comment... oh well!

CrystalGB said...

Great interview. Zombie Queen of Newbury High sounds good. Love the cover.

nightdweller20 said...

Lol, us Americans love z's huh?

We sure do. As a matter of fact, I sometimes add substitute a z for a s at the end of a plural word just for the fun of it. Like, catz instead of cats. I'm just silly like that.

nightdweller20 said...

Oh yeah, please don't enter me for the contest since I already have a copy of Zombie Queen on the way :D

Lucy said...

Can't wait to read it.

Paradox said...

Your next book sounds AWESOME!!! And I can't wait to read Zombie Queen of Newbury High!

jenn said...

i've read the interview and i've got a lot from it. it's pretty good and interesting. :D
the book sound really good. i can't wait to read it.
i've read gamer girl. lately , it was awesome!. i loved it.
and Mari saying that if we like the humour in her books we'd probably like Amanda's too. so. yup!. really can't wait!! :D

And oh! Mari, this is jenn. from myspace? i'm waiting for my dad and i to go back to the book store and buy your books.

tc. =)
i love horror. BUT, my parents don't wanna watch it with me. hAHha.

sweetmelissa818 said...

That episode of Buffy makes me cry! I'm a big baby! I love that you love Buffy and Angel! Me and my husband have both seen every episode!

Diana Dang said...

You know, I never got passed 28 Days Later beyond 10 minutes. I think the beginning was way too slow and I got lazy of waiting. Lol!

Karen W. said...

Hi, Amanda. Ah...Another DB mention to make my day! ;-) Not surprisingly, "TV Guide" just picked David as one of TV's sexiest. I can't wait for the issue with the photos!

Kiana said...

This book looks like it's really funny. I can't wait to read it! I can't say I've read too many zombie books...vampires, faeries, werewolves, yes, but not very many zombie books.

This looks really interesting and I can't wait till I can pick up a copy.

Oh, I think it'd be kind of cool to read something written in a New Zealand type of way haha

Summer said...

ooh I wanna read it!

bridget3420 said...

Oooh, I like dragons!

Kate at ReadThisBook! said...

Great interview! :) I didn't know that The Forest of Hands and Teeth was a zombie book! I want to read that now too.

I'm going to the bookstore tomorrow to check if they have The Zombies Of Newbury High. Last time I checked, they said it might take weeks! =(

Thao said...

I never knew Amanda lived in New Zealand. I'm so behind, but yes proud you because you make it to the USA : )

donnas said...

Shaun of the Dead is so totally the best zombie movie ever made.

Cant wait to read your book.


dianecurran said...

I didn't even realise you had a blog, Mari. How slack am I? But Amanda has enticed me over here with her talk of zombies and free books.

Got to say your vampire series is in my TBR pile ...I will get there soon, like you I have little time to read, what with the day job and the writing/editing. Seriously, how do we do it?

A lot of my friends are Twilight obsessed, and when they're moping about the end of the series, I've said 'Have I got a hero for you!" and handed them A Connecticut Fashionista...Now they're all falling for Lancelot. I reckon he gives Edward a run for his money in the gentlemenly hero stakes.

Amanda Ashby said...

Hey everyone, thanks for such lovely comments. You guys rock so much!

Oh and Diane, I make sure all the Twilight obsessed girls who come into the library where I work, walk out with Boys that Bite. That soon stops them talking about Edward!

Michelle Kuo said...

Haha oh goodness, how'd the topic of blowing up the world get brought up when you were talking to your husband?
And I really can't wait to read your book! It sounds sooooo good :)

Sara Hantz said...

Fab interview.... Zombie is an awesome book....

Anonymous said...

i like dollhouse. though i must confess , i recoreded it several times, on my dvr, and just the other day, broke down and watched it, thinking, but i love it!

darceydiva said...

Your a kiwi!!! I didn't know that, well I'm an aussie and in the u.s. so our places are in a way reversed,i'm here wanting to leave/your there wanting to come.