Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Amanda McNeil - Author Interview & Giveaway

Today I welcome Amanda McNeil, author of Waiting for Daybreak, to the blog for an interview. Read on to find out more about her and her latest release... don't forget to enter the giveaway too!

1) Tell us a little more about yourself and your writing
I grew up in Vermont and moved to Boston about 7 years ago. My interest in everything and anything naturally led me into librarianship, and a late-blooming passion for healthcare and science funneled me into medical librarianship. When I’m not working or writing, I’m working out, playing videogames, cooking, or exploring Boston. Ok, ok, and snuggling my kitty.

My writing is heavily influenced by the storytelling culture of rural Vermonters. I grew up with oral stories steeped in lore and dialect being told to me by most older relatives, but particularly my father. Because of this, I have a passion for genre fiction with a real message in it. The stories my relatives told me were classic genre, but they still contained an important grain of truth. That’s what I seek to do in my own writing.

2) What led you to join the new zombie-craze? What makes your zombies different?
Well, actually, I started this book before the zombie-craze hit. I consider myself incredibly lucky that it did in the meantime! Obviously there’s always been a cult undercurrent of zombie lovers, so what made me join that? I don’t know, honestly. The first time I encountered zombies in stories my brain just went “yessss.” There’s something appealing about humanity being threatened by humans, isn’t there? Plus, the gritty aspect of zombies as opposed to the rock star quality of vampires just makes me like them better.

What makes my zombie virus different is that it only affects those without a mental illness. People with one are immune. This is based in science. Recent fMRI studies have shown that mentally ill people’s brains are actually visibly different from healthy people’s. I decided that maybe that might somehow make them immune. Beyond that, my zombies are pretty typical. Eat brains and flesh and you have to puncture their brain to kill them. Er, to double-kill them.

3) Do you have a favourite zombie movie and/or book?
My favorite zombie movie is actually a recent discovery (on my part) called Sugar Hill. It’s a 1974 blaxploitation film in which a woman avenges her boyfriend’s murder with the help of a voodoo god and zombie hit men.

I don’t think I could pick a favorite zombie book. I appreciate most of the ones I’ve read for different reasons. I like Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies for inserting humanity and romance into the zombies, Diana Rowland’s My Life as a White Trash Zombie for that title alone, Tonia Brown’s Lucky Stiff for zombie erotica that is actually good, and of course the graphic novels The Walking Dead for setting the standard in graphic novel zombies. I actually have an entire
zombie shelf on GoodReads if anyone is interested.

4) Where do you draw your inspiration from and how do you go about the writing process?
Everywhere. Everything.  My brain is constantly upping the ante on things I stumble across at work or on my commute.  This story was the result of a combination of being in Boston when almost everyone else was out of town for Thanksgiving and having just recently read about the fMRI scans.  My brain mashes things up together and comes out with these stories.  It just sort of....happens.

As for my writing process, usually either I write short story and then realize it’s a scene in a book that’s already in my head or the beginning of a book comes to me, and I get going on that.  Once I’ve written about 20% of the book, I then sit down and make notations for myself about basic plot points that need to happen so I don’t wander off too far afield, but there’s really not that much planning going on with my writing.

5) When you aren't working on your own stories, what do you like to read?
I absolutely love scifi. My favorite subgenres of scifi are post-apocalyptic and sociological/anthropological. I love graphic violence and sex, so horror and unique, tongue-in-cheek erotica or romance are generally right up my alley. I also love manga, graphic novels, and literary fiction that deals with social justice issues. Nonfiction is a strong contender as well though. I’d say that nonfiction makes up about 40% of my reading.

6) Tell us a random unknown fact about yourself
When I was little, an elephant sneezed on me, and a camel stole my chips, bag and all.

7) What are you working on at present? Any other new releases on the horizon?

Currently I am working on a Lovecraftian style dark fantasy in which the dark ones have taken over New England. I absolutely love the Lovecraft subculture, and I was beyond excited when this idea popped into my head. I’m hoping to release it within a year, although it is currently untitled. 

8) Where can readers go to find out more about you and your books?
The best place is my blog, and the second-best place is my GoodReads author page.

Waiting for Daybreak - Blurb

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

Author Bio

Amanda McNeil is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat.  Her day job is a medical librarian, and her hobbies (besides writing and reading) include cooking, fitness, and exploring everything from museums to dive bars.  She writes horror, scifi, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy.  This is her first novel, although she has previously published short stories and a novella, Ecstatic Evil.   

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