Friday, June 15, 2012

GCC Presents: Amanda Ashby!

Continuing in what has become a fabulous string of releases from my pals in the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, Amanda Ashby has the first two books in her Sophie's Mixed-Up Magic series out now! Let's hear about them, shall we?

The Books in Sophie's Mixed-Up Magic seris

Book One: Wishful Thinking 
Be careful what you wish for…
After eleven year old Sophie accidentally gets herself turned into a djinn, she starts to think that it might not be so bad after all. (Of course, that’s after she gets the whole orange skin problem sorted out.) Who wouldn’t enjoy having the power to grant wishes! But when Sophie develops RWD (Random Wish Disorder) and can’t STOP granting wishes, things get more than a little mixed-up!

Book Two: Under a Spell
And that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E…
As Sophie gets used to her magic, her relationship with the adorable Jonathan Tait is blossoming. There’s only one problem: Jonathan’s twin sister, Melissa. She’s a total mean girl who seems intent on making Sophie’s life miserable. On top of that, Melissa somehow seems to sense that Sophie has powers–and manages to bind Sophie to her in a totally self-serving way. Can Sophie figure out a way out of this–without ruining her chances with Jonathan?

Book one and two are a simultaneous release and watch out for book three in October…

The Author

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and after spending the last sixteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand, she’s finally moved back and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?) She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book, You Had Me at Halo was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award, and her first young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High was listed by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. Her latest release, Fairy Bad Day, has been selected by Voya as one of their Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2012 and is a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist for the Australia/NZ region. To find out more, please go to

The Interview

Q: What inspired you to write this book? 

Amanda: I grew up watching televisions shows like Bewitched, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and I Dream of Jeannie and I really loved how they all had this secret life that they needed to hide. To me it was the perfect recipe for comedy and I’ve always wanted to do something like that!

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so? 

Amanda: Sophie is actually a lot like me! She’s a positive thinker who often has to remind herself that she is a positive thinker, she also likes wearing jeans and sneakers and can easily get obsessed by things like music and books!

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

Amanda: Well, the first song would be Zombie Vegas by Neanderthal Joe, but since I only made up the band and the song for the book, I’ve got no idea what it would sound like (though my heroine Sophie assures me that it’s awesome!!!!!)
Jean Genie by David Bowie – obviously the title makes it perfect but I happen to adore David Bowie and I have never written a book that hasn’t somehow been connected to a David Bowie song.
The Climb by Stan Walker – Stan is a beautiful Australian singer who makes me smile everything I hear him. I love his cover of this Miley Cyrus song.
Hallelujah by Gin Wigmore. This isn’t the Leonard Cohen song, but one that a wonderful New Zealand artist called Gin Wigmore wrote when she was a teenager after her dad had died. In my books, Sophie’s dad hasn’t died, but he is missing and this song always helped remind me how she felt about his absence.
True Colors by Cyndi Lauper. Because it’s awesome and relevant to the story!

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

Amanda: Thank you!!! You know a pet peeve of mine is when people describe what they love as a guilty pleasure. Why feel guilty when you love something?

Anyway, for me the best thing ever is an Australian magazine called Frankie! For years I’ve had very strange taste in clothing, furniture and knickknacks and the closest I could come to naming it was to say that it was Nana Chic, because basically if an old lady has had it in her house, then there is a good chance that I would like it. This goes from crotchet rugs through to ugly swan statues and just about everything in between. What I didn’t realize was that other people actually loved all of this stuff as well. Then when I moved to Australia I discovered Frankie and discovered that I’m far from alone in my tastes! And so now, every time I read that magazine I feel so happy to know that there are other people out there who see beauty in strange old retro pieces (my current obsessions are eighties digital alarm clocks and souvenir tea towels and tablecloths!)

Q: What are you working on for us next?

Amanda: I have a third Sophie book out in October and next summer I have a new young adult book called Demonosity, which is about alchemy and two beautiful, scarred demon knights, both of whom I am madly in love with!

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