Friday, March 06, 2009

UNDEAD FRIDAY w/ Amanda Ashby!

Fresh from her zombie party, I'm pleased to welcome Amanda Ashby as today's FREEBIE FRIDAY guest author. Amanda's both a teenfictioncafe sister and a GCC sister and genuinely one of the nicest people I know.

Amanda is an Aussie with a fabulous sense of humor, who has been splitting her time between New Zealand and England for the past ten years - oh, and writing seriously funny books. Her previous book, YOU HAD ME AT HALO was nominated as a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award.

Today we're celebrating the release of her YA novel, ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH. My copy hasn't arrived yet (boo!) but I am dying to get my hands on it. Check out the official blurb:

Tomorrow is prom, and all Mia wants to do is cast a love spell on her date Rob Ziggerman to keep him away from cheerleading goddess Samantha and save him all to herself. But somehow she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class instead. At first Mia loves all the attention her classmates are giving her; treating her like a queen, compliments galore, and all the chocolate a girl could want. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up. Why? Because in twenty-four hours, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. That’s what being the ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH means. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, especially when the alternative means that her classmates and teachers will be feasting on her bones. But in the meantime, she’s suggests that no one wear white to tomorrow night’s prom, because she has a feeling that things could get very messy.

Now on to the interview:
What inspired you to write ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH?
This is embarrassing to admit but the idea of writing a zombie book started out as a bit of a joke because there is something so hilarious about the word ‘zombie’. However, the more I joked about it, the more I realized that it would actually might not be such a dumb idea. At the time I hadn’t seen any zombie books around so I just sat down with my husband (who loves zombie movies) and we started to throw around ideas.

However we weren’t getting very far so I decided to start thinking about cute titles instead. I was trying to be clever like Shaun of the Dead but I couldn’t think of anything with zombies in it that I could twist. Then for some reason the song ‘Witch Queen of New Orleans’ came into my head and I changed it to Zombie Queen of Newbury High, which made me laugh out loud. From there I sat down and tried to figure out what a girl would have to do to earn the title zombie queen!! It was definitely a backwards process, but a lot of fun (and my husband was happy since it meant that he got to re-watch all of his favorite zombie movies!).

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
No, not really. Mainly because I write paranormal books and even though I like my characters to have real life problems and issues, I’m fairly sure none of my friends have ever been stuck in someone else’s body or turned their entire senior year into zombies (unless they’re not telling me something and then they’re in big trouble!!).
What excites you?
Books, television and watching my favorite soccer team Liverpool Football Club (in England) win – sometimes not in that order!!!! I love soccer (or football as I call it) and I can turn from a mild mannered author girl into a screaming maniac with two seconds (especially if the referee has missed a penalty call in those two particular seconds!). As for television, you really don’t want to see how happy I get every year when I know that American Idol is coming back on or when I know that there are new episodes of 24 about to be made. I’m a sad, sad person!
What turns you off?
I’m going to sound like an old hippy here but I really hate when I see people who are in negative mindsets and they go around in around in a cycle of destructive behavior. I mean I’ve known girls who have been crying on and off for twenty years about the size of their nose. It’s such a waste of energy and it makes me sad that they can’t move onto something else more positive.

What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an eldest child or because I’m an Aries (or both) but I have a profound fear of getting into trouble and so that makes me a bad liar. I mean you’d think the lying would come easy if it could stop me from getting into trouble but the thing is I worry too much about what would happen if I was caught out. Normally it goes along the lines of me getting sent straight to the burning pits of hell with a large sign painted around my neck which says something like ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’. Of course things like telling my husband that the kids ate his chocolate when really it was me definitely doesn’t come under the mantel of lying. Oh dear me, no!
What's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
Waiting to hear back from my agent and editor about book news! There is nothing worse than an author who has both a healthy imagination and time on her hands – it’s a lethal combination.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Joss Whedon because he is a genius and his television shows changed my life and Georgette Heyer because she is one of my favorite authors and no books have ever made me laugh so much as hers have.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
When I was seventeen I went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert and I was two people away from the girl he pulled up onto stage to dance with him. Things could’ve been so different!
What's your favorite quote?
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” By Flannery O’Connor– this quote sums up the heart of just about every book I’ve ever written.

Milk Chocolate or Dark? What? You mean I have to choose? Gerb, you don’t play fair!

Amanda has graciously offered a copy of ZOMBIE QUEEN to this week's lucky FREEBIE FRIDAY winner. To enter, simply leave a message below telling us about either A. your favorite zombie movie of all time or B. the strangest thing you've done in the interest of love. This contest will remain open until Tuesday, March 10.

Meanwhile, you still have time to enter to win a copy of DEATH BY DENIM over at KC Dyer's blog someone is the mystery guest. She's drawing the winner tonight, so don't procrastinate!