Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Amanda Ashby

It's Women Who Rock Wednesday, yay! Which means I have a winner to announce and another rockin' lady to interview. But first, I totally forgot to mention this yesterday.... You have the opportunity to win a signed copy of my book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by visiting the lovely birthday girl Liviania's blog and reading my "Ode to my 20's" and following Liv's rules about entering the contest.

Now onto announcing last week's winner of Liz Funk's SUPERGIRLS SPEAK OUT.... that person is Jocelyn from blogger! Jocelyn, please email me with your address to claim your prize.

Okay, today's guest is Amanda Ashby, author of ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH. Zombies definitely rock and so does Amanda, so let's hear all about her and her book!

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday, Amanda! Please give us the lowdown on your fab new book ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH?
So where did you get the idea for the book? I did a fun blog for you about my thoughts about zombies, can you share your thoughts and feelings about zombies and any fave zombie books or movies?

This is really embarrassing to admit but I’ve never particularly been a zombie fan. In fact when I think of zombies I think of B-grade movies and so I use to joke about writing a zombie book in the same way that I’d joke about writing something called Godzilla Goes to Hollywood. Anyway, after all a while I suddenly thought perhaps it would actually be a good idea and so I turned to my husband – who has been a zombie fan from way back and we had a few drinks and brainstormed up an idea.

Of course the most embarrassing thing about having a zombie book out is meeting the other zombie writers – all of whom are hardcore addicts - and I have to admit to my own short comings. But despite my poor heritage there is a lot of zombie movies that I love. Shaun of the Dead, Fido, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Serenity (which after consultation with a few friends, we’ve all agreed that it counts. Firstly because the Ravers are like zombies and secondly because Nathan Fillion is just so gorgeous that it gives him automatic entry into whatever genre he wants!!). And speaking of Nathan, Slither is great – though it’s sort of Alien meets zombie meets gross-me-out-dude.

As for books, well I have to turn to my fellow zombie writers! Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned and Road Trip of the Living Dead are hilariously snarky! SG Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament is the great American novel – with zombies and is a must for everyone! Stacey Jay’s You Are So Undead to Me is so far up my street that it might as well just move next door and while I’ve yet to read Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth, I plan on grabbing it the minute it comes out.

Now that we've heard about your zombie influences, let's hear about your writing influences. How did you get your start as a writer? Have you been into it since a young age? Who are some of the writers or other artists that inspire your writing. Since it's WWRW, we especially like to hear about the women, but feel free to name guys too!

I wish I could say that I’ve always written but that would be lying! At school I was always very good at English (not so good on the spelling and grammar though!) and at University I studied English and Journalism but I never felt the least interest in writing a book. I was however an avid reader and one day I had the terrible thought ‘what if Jane Austen never sat down and wrote Pride and Prejudice’? That was really the first time I ever thought that perhaps writers were just normal people.

Of course, being lazy, this thought didn’t lead me to write but it must’ve planted a seed and I quite specifically remember just waking up one morning when I was 27 and decided I was going to write a book. And so I did. It took about three weeks to do a 50,000 word romance novel and it was truly awful. However, despite the badness, for the first time I really felt like I had a purpose. I still had a few false starts and I wrote about thirteen full manuscripts without having any success at all.

Then in 2005 my dad died and on the day of the funeral I was helping to clean the house when I had a crazy conversation with him and it was like he was looking down from heaven trying to oversea everything (he had control freak issues at times!!!). Anyway, that was the basis for my debut book YOU HAD ME AT HALO and that’s when I finally cracked through the seemingly impenetrable wall between published and unpublished!!!

As for writers that inspire me – don’t worry they are nearly all women. Some of my favorite authors are Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Ursula LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne MaCaffrey, and Janet Evanovich. There are more of course – lots more but I know that these woman have really influenced the way I see the world and what sort of stories I want to tell! (And boy, sorry this was such a long answer. What can I say? I’m a talker!).

You live in New Zealand, which I just think sounds fabulous. Can you share what you love most about living there and maybe a fun fact about NZ that those of us who don't live there wouldn't know?

New Zealand truly is the most gorgeous country in the world (and considering I’m from Australia and have lived in England for quite a long time, I like to think I’m not too biased!!). As for interesting facts, well not only did New Zealand invent bungee jumping and give birth to Peter Jackson but we’ve also had two female Prime Ministers as well as being the first country in the world to give women the vote – though my husband assures me it was because the government wanted to ban alcohol and they figured the best way to do was to let the woman vote since they all wanted the men to stop getting so drunk in the pubs and come home!!!!!

I know ZOMBIE QUEEN just came out, but can you tell us what you are working on now?

I’ve finished my next book for Puffin, which is about a teenage girl who goes to an elite slaying academy where she suddenly starts to see invisible killer fairies. Only problem is that due to a small misunderstanding (think girl who cried wolf and then triple it) no one believes her and she is forced to fight the invisible killer fairies all on her. Fun times. I’m also working on a mid grade book which is lots of fun.

I always ask two standard questions of my Women Who Rock. The first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

Okay this is really going back in time! The first album I was ever given was Abba Arrival when I was about 8 but the first album (cassette actually) that I ever spent my own cold hard cash on was Bad for Good by Jim Steinmen. Is it wrong that I probably still know all the words as well (actually it is wrong especially when I don’t even know my own cell phone number!!!).

As for concerts. Hmmm, probably the first arena concert I ever saw was David Bowie in his Serious Moonlight Tour (I love him soooo much) and I remember we snuck out of school early to get there in the afternoon so we could get a good spot. It was amazing and I’d love to go see him in concert again. However, before that I use to go and see loads of great Australian/NZ bands at really small venues and while I couldn’t remember what the first one was, some of my favorites were Australian Crawl, INXS and Split Enz

Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Because I live in NZ and my books come out in the US I’ve never really done much physical promotion for them (or none even!). However, when I went to the RWA conference last year, NAL who published my debut book had a big author signing and all the books were free, which meant there were people lining up waiting for me to sign them. Anyway, yes I know the books were all free, but it was the coolest feeling in the WORLD to look up and see all these people wanting to get a signed copy of your book. I went straight back to my room and smashed a TV just so the feeling wouldn’t end. Hahaha, not really, I think I had a cup of tea and there ended my rock star moment!!!!!

Thanks Amanda! I was quite excited to learn more about New Zealand, I'm jealous of your David Bowie concert experience since I still haven't seen him live, and I think having a cup of tea is totally rock star since I'm having one right now ;) Also since we are confessing embarrasing things (though I don't think your confession about your lack of zombie knowledge is that embarrassing), I'm going say that I still think of Nathan Fillion as Joey from One Life to Live. Yep, I'm a soap addict and I've been watching OLTL for 15 years now so.... He's just forever typecast in my mind.

Okay, time for reader comments on Amanda's interview. Amanda has given you guys a choice of your prize, so in your comment also let me know if you would rather win A. ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH, B. YOU HAD ME AT HALO, or C. A zombie survival kit... I'd probably be opting for C since I'm surrounded by cemeteries, but I'm guessing if you don't have Amanda's books yet you may want one of those.

So comment away, and I'll draw a winner in two weeks. WWRW will be on hiatus next week due to me not having a guest and my agent being in town so I'll be hanging with her.


Annika said...

Ooh, I've got to read Zombie Queen! I used to write about horror movies and I always felt like SUCH an impostor because my husband is the real horror fan.

Erika Lynn said...

David Bowie and INXS! those are some great concerts! and of course i would love a zombie survival kit!!

Nora said...

I really want to read Zombie Queen and I love that the idea came out of a joke. Inspiration comes from the most interesting places!

Karen W. said...

Another fun interview. Hope the book is doing great, Amanda!

Diana Dang said...

Hm, I have never been at a concert before!

Anonymous said...

Wow, the question about the first album made me think back to the first CD I ever bought, and it was Britney Spears' first album, Hit Me Baby One More Time (I'm only 20 yrs. old). I'm sort of embarrassed by it lol.

As for which thing I'd like to win, I have to go with You Had Me at Halo, since I already have Zombie Queen and the survival kit headed my way :P

Bunny B said...

I would love to read Zombie Queen!! :) NZ is one cool place I would love to visit! See all the beautiful landscape scenes like those in LOTR :)
bunnybx at gmail . com

Amanda Ashby said...

Hey Stephanie - thanks so much for touring me!!!!

Annika - snap! I'm such a light weight horror girl!!

Erika - well, there has to be some advantages of growing up in Australia. Though I can't really imagine seeing INXS now that Micheal is dead.

Nora - it sure does!!

Karen W - me too!

Diana Dang (yup, I'm still doing the full name thing!). I use to go all the time in my late teens early twenties but I haven't been for ages. Must rectify that soon!

ND20 - I always have time for Britney!

BunnyB - it really is quite gorgeous here and so laid back. Plus they make killer ice-cream!!!

sweetmelissa818 said...

Bowie??!?!??!?? I'm so jealous right now!

Lucy said...

I totally see you sneaking out of class early! Bad Amanda!!! :)

Oh and you totally need to write the Godzilla goes to Hollywood thing. heehee

donnas said...

I cant wait to read Zombie Queen. And Shaun of the Dead is seriously one of the best zombie movies ever made.

Thao said...

Thank God you decided to sit down and write, or else there'd be no zombie queen now ;)

Kate at ReadThisBook! said...

:O Amanda actually snuck out of school early?!?!

LOL I would just skip school! Hahahhaa.

Thanks for this awesome interview. I would love to win the zombie survival kit! I want it BADLY!

Kate at ReadThisBook! said...

Oh and if you need my email incase I win something, it is kate.readthisbook (at) gmail (dot) com.

Lisa N. said...

Another great interview and more fun facts about Amanda! I can't wait to read Zombie Queen!

Lalaland said...

I just read the cover story at Melissa Walker's blog. I really love the cover. said...

still a stalking, and i think you rock, so this is a nice stop for you

Paradox said...

Congratulations on your release!

And I can't wait for the killer fairy book! That should be interesting!

Sena said...

Wow! You've lived in nice countries!! And did you just say NZ makes killer ice-cream?! I have to visit!

I would love to win either A or C. Does C come with the book? :P