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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Starlight Saturday

YA Author Spotlight Presents...

Amanda Ashby
To start the month off, Lisa McMann brought us dream catchers.  Then last week, Alyson Noel brought us Immortals.  Now, Amanda Ashby brings us zombies!  
Dream catchers, immortals and zombies, oh my!
Dream catchers, immortals and zombies, oh my!
Dream catchers, immortals and zombies, oh my!
Dream catchers, immortals and zombies, oh my!

Sorry!  Got carried away there!  Here's our paranormal interview with Aussie author, Amanda Ashby!  

Let’s start with some trivia about you:

Q.  Do you have a movie that you must watch every Halloween? What's your favorite scary movie? Do you have a favorite scary character or character type?

A.  Do you know that I absolutely hate scary movies but unfortunately my husband loves them so despite myself I’ve seen quite a few. The only ones that I really like to watch again are the really old ones with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in. Those guys are the ultimate evil!!

Q.  Do you have any Halloween traditions like decorating your house, having house parties, wearing costumes, etc.?

A.  I’m from Australia and when I was growing up, Halloween wasn’t really celebrated at all. However, these days more and more people seem to go trick or treating (including my only kids) though it’s still a bit hit and miss who celebrates it and who doesn’t. I always get in lots of candy just in case we get people coming around (which doesn’t normally happen, though the upside is that we get to eat it all. Nice!)

Q.  If you do you dress up for Halloween, what will you be dressed up as this year? What was your all-time most favorite costume that you ever wore? Why?

A.  I’m so not a dress-up sort of person so even if we did have Halloween when I was younger I probably wouldn’t have dressed up. Yup, Amanda Ashby, party pooper extraordinaire at your service!!!!

Q.  Are you superstitious? Do you find yourself knocking on wood or throwing salt over your shoulder? If not one of these two, what is your superstition?

A.  I’m not really superstitious but my husband, who is from England, is highly superstitious. If he bumps his elbow, he immediately has to hit the other one and sometimes I will bump it for him three times in a row just to see if he will keep on doing it (he will). Oh, and he gets really mad if anyone puts shoes on the bed or a table. Apparently that’s a bad one!!!! Another favorite of his is to open the front door at midnight on New Year’s Eve to let the year come into the house.

Q.  Do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you ever had a ghostly encounter and tell us about it?

A.  I have always believed in ghosts and I honestly think it’s just one of those topics that you either believe in or you don’t and nothing will make a person change their mind. I haven’t seen a ghost however once my husband and I were in a trendy bar in Dunedin (which is right down the bottom of New Zealand. Next stop The Antarctic!). Anyway, I had to go and use the toilets, which were down in the basement of the bar. It was a bit creepy getting to them because you had to go through about three different rooms, which were used on the weekends for dancing, but when I was there, they were dark and empty.

I finally found the toilets, but when I went in there I was completely overcome by a horrible feeling. Then, a couple of seconds later I had a vision as if the whole toilet was covered in blood.

It was such a horrible sensation that I ran straight out of there and told my husband that we had to leave immediately. He was completely shocked (mainly because we had just bought some drinks) but when he realized that I was serious, we both left. I found out a few days later that the bar had once been a sports shop and that the manager had hung himself down in the basement. I’ve never felt anything like it before I really hope that I never experience it again. I’d much rather leave this sort of stuff to my imagination.

Q.  Tell us 3 funny or strange things that happened to you, or someone you know, on past Halloweens.

A.  My kids decided to try Trick or Treating a couple of years ago and so we got them costumes and took them out (bearing in mind that in New Zealand, it’s almost summertime so it doesn’t get dark until about 7.30 at night – so it isn’t exactly spooky).

Anyway, my daughter who was about six at the time and dressed up as a fairy, suddenly got really shy and refused to go up to the door, so my son who had just turned five was left to do it. However, the minute my little fairy realized that people were going to give them candy, she got completely obsessed with it and she was racing up and pounding on the doors like a crazy person.

Q.  If you could be any paranormal creature, what would it be and why?

A.  The tooth fairy, because I’ve heard the pay is good and you get a sparkly wand.

Now, let’s get to your writing:

Q.  Why the paranormal genre? What was the draw for you?

A.  My father was a massive Tolkien fan and so I grew up reading a lot of fantasy books like Raymond E Feist, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey. Then I watched Buffy and fell in love with the combination of a fantasy world colliding with real life. From there I was hooked!

Q.  If you could describe your paranormal writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and look beyond words like vampire, werewolf, etc., and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

A.  There is a fabulous quote by Flannery O’Conner where she says:

‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”

I love this saying and it always reminds me of my own work because I tend to write about girls who are normal and then discover something quite extraordinary and suddenly they discover that their lives will never be the same again (though of course Flannery O’Connor says it so much more eloquently than I ever could!!)

Q.  Do you prefer playing tricks on people or bestowing treats? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

A.  Treats definitely. I’m not a trick sort of person. As for if it shows up in my writing, well I guess it does because I always like to reward my characters at the end – unless of course they have been very naughty and then I will make them wear an ugly dress to the prom or let them get eaten by zombies. Hmmm, perhaps I am a trick girl after all?!

Q.  Who decides what creatures you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one stirring the cauldron?

A.  I’m so going to blame my muse because in real life I’m a lovely sweet person who would never even dream of writing about zombies, dead girls and killer fairies. My muse on the other hand doesn’t seem to go two hoots for my reputation and is always coming up with the most ridiculous ideas.

Q.  What was the creature that you had the most fun creating and why?

A.  I’m currently writing a midgrade series about a girl who gets turned into a djinn (genie) the day before she starts sixth grade. Anyway, her ghostly djinn guide, Malik is definitely the funniest character I’ve ever written. He is completely uncontrollable and the amount of trouble he has managed to get my poor heroine into is just ridiculous.

You Had me at HaloQ.  If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why? Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

A.  I’d love to meet Vince Murphy, who was the hero of my first book, You Had Me at Halo. He had abs of steel and the patience of a saint. Le sigh! As for who I would never like to meet, well in my next book Fairy Bad Day, my heroine has to fight a really vile fairy that only she can see. He is horrible and creepy (oh and sort of invisible) so I definitely wouldn’t want to meet him down a dark alley!

Zombie Queen of Newbury HighBLURB:

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. Rob-super hot football god-has asked her to prom! Life couldn’t get any better. Enter Samantha -cheerleader queen and Miss Popularity-who has made it quite clear that Rob should be her prom date. Mia is desperate to make sure she doesn’t end up dumped in front of the whole school. So with prom in just a few days, she turns to Candice-her holistic, hypochondriac best friend-and decides to try a love spell to make Rob stay with her. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus on her whole class instead, and she is their zombie leader! At first she loves all the attention. But when she learns from zombie hunter hottie Chase that her classmates will actually try to eat her in a few days, she’s not too thrilled. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but in the meantime, she’s suggesting that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.


“Come on,” Chase urged as they once again began to run. “We need to find somewhere to keep you safe.”

“What about the school basement?” Mia panted as she tried her best to keep up with his fast pace. Running in high heels certainly wasn’t making it any easier.

“There is no basement,” Chase said just as a group of tuxedo-clad chess-club geeks appeared at the top of the hallway. And were they waving at her like this was a game?

“What?” Mia yelped as they spun and headed left toward the library. “But there’s always a basement. In Buffy, Sunnydale High has a basement bigger than a mall.”

“I’ve studied the floor plans of this place enough to know that there is definitely no basement. Especially not a mall-sized one.”

“Well, that’s a flaw,” she said just as there was a shouting noise from behind them and Mia spun around to see Rob Ziggerman clumsily making his way toward them, closely followed by the others. 

“Mia,” Rob yelled as he held out the limp and battered pink corsage. “Babe, stop with the running so I can hold you.”

“In here.” Chase pushed open the door of a janitor’s closet and slammed it shut just as Rob’s fist went crashing into the wood grain. Chase quickly locked the door and nodded for Mia to stand at the far end of the closet. She tried her best to look away from the small frosted glass window pane in the door that showed the shadowy dark silhouettes on the other side.

“Mia, come on. Let me in,” Rob howled and Mia felt a sense of doom go racing through her. This was it. She was going to get eaten. By her prom date.

To find out what happens next, you'll have to read the book! It's an enjoyable read! Check out the YA Room or my Goodreads page for my full review of this book!

Have a question or just want to chit chat? Ask away!

3 Moonbeams (comments):

Carrie said...

I have to say, this book is getting interesting!

Thanks for joining us today Amanda!

BTW - If you ask a question now, she may answer it while you're sleeping tonight!

Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thanks for the great interview Amanda! I love learning more about authors. You have great titles. The excellent excerpt ended too soon, I want more!
All the best,
PS - Amanda Ashby is on Twitter!
She's @ZombieQueenMia

Gracen Miller said...

Thanks for joining us, Amanda! Awesome interview and an honor to have you here.

Zombie Queen sounds interesting! Best of luck!