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.