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Amanda Ashby, author of The Zombie Queen of Newbury High, visits DotW

Intro! Tell us about yourself and your book!

Amanda_AshbyI was born in Australia but have spent the last ten years dividing my time between England and New Zealand. I’m married with two kids (who actually do a great zombie walk when bribed with candy) and when I’m not writing, I work part time in the kids’ section of my local library which pretty much means that I spend every day either writing books, reading books or talking about books. Let’s just say that I love my life!!!!

Zombie Queen of Newbury High is about what happens when Mia Everett tries to do a love spell to stop her prom date from dumping her and instead she somehow manages to turn her entire senior year (including teachers) into zombies. Honestly, it could’ve happened to anyone.

What inspired you to write Zombie Queen?

The truth? The whole thing started out as a joke, I used to tease my critique partners that if they weren’t careful I would write a book called I was a Killer Zombie Bride. Unfortunately, the more I said it, the more I started to think ‘why not write a zombie book?’ However, at the time I’d never even seen a zombie book and so it took a few weeks to convince myself to go for it. Then once I did, my zombie-loving husband helped me brainstorm it and the minute I told my agent what I was thinking of doing, she was very excited. That was over two years ago and since then zombie books have started to pop up everywhere so I guess there must’ve just been something weird in the water!!!

What was your favorite part of writing it? What did you find hardest?

This book was actually really easy to write because I just found the whole premise so ridiculous and crazy that I just kept making myself laugh. Unfortunately, the revisions that my editor wanted weren’t quite so much fun!!!! For a start I had to lose my favorite scene where the hero had to get dressed up as Elvis and sing Heartbreak Hotel in order to get some information from a Chaos Maker. But in the end the revisions made the story a better book – so despite how hard they were, they were totally worth it!!!

Tell us about your zombie influences

Okay this is embarrassing but on the whole I’m not a big zombie fan. In fact the first zombie movie that I really enjoyed was Shaun of the Dead which I love (perhaps a little bit too much). I also really enjoyed Fido and 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later. Also, does Serenity count? I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan and the Reavers had a big zombie vibe going on (not to mention Nathan Fillion was in it. Le sigh).

Your book made me laugh, particularly Candice, Mia’s hypochondriac best friend and the way everyone in the school kept giving Mia candy to fatten her up so they could eat her at Prom. Zombies are pretty horrible–why do you think zombie comedies work?

How long do you have? For me, the first thing that made me laugh about zombies was the sort of B-grade movie feel that their name inspires (which was why I was so thrilled that my publisher used a traditional ‘zombie’ font on my cover). Also, they look pretty amusing. I mean the limping, the drool, the missing body limbs – it all lends itself to parody.

If you were a zombie, what kind of zombie would you be? The Haitian voodoo type, controlled by others; the slow, shuffling Romero-esque type intent on sucking brains, or the speedy enraged 28 Days Later type?
Well for a start the whole brain sucking thing is such a myth – it totally gives them indigestion. But joking aside, when it comes to zombies, I’m a real virus girl so I guess I’d definitely be a 28 Days Later type – plus I’m a major Christopher Eccleston fan!

Do you ever feel like a zombie?

I have an eight year old and a six year old so yeah, I pretty much feel like a zombie most of the time. Actually, I have a bad habit of forgetting to check what I look like when I go out to the store so I often catch sight of myself in the windows and get a very bad shock. It doesn’t make for pretty viewing.

Earlier this month, I suggested that the reason for the current rise of zombie horror is our fear of the loss of individuality (uh, and our brains). Do you think that there’s anything else contributing to the current trend?

I think after 9/11, with the rise of terrorism and the changing climate, which has lead to a series of quite horrific natural disasters, people are overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness, which I think the zombie mythology really plays into. Mainly because zombies are so unrelenting. It doesn’t seem to matter how many of them you kill, there are always more (and they’re always hungry). In fact zombies don’t want your money, or your job or anything else. Just your flesh. It’s a very primal thing.

You write for teens–do you think that zombies particularly appeal to teens? If so, why?

I think zombies appeal on so many levels. Not only do they represent the mindless conformity that most teens seem eager to rebel against but also the grotesque and surreal nature of zombies appeal to teen humor (a bit like a six year old reacting to a fart joke). Finally, I think that teens can relate to the feeling of isolation that someone might have when they’re running away from a horde of flesh-chewing monsters.

Are you doing another zombie book next?

No new zombie books I’m afraid! Instead, my next book for Puffin is tentatively titled Fairy Bad Day. It’s about a teenage girl whose plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a dragon slayer are thrown into disarray by the fact she can suddenly see invisible fairies. Killer invisible fairies.

Thanks for coming, Amanda!

Buy the book before the undead show up for prom!

What a great cover! The Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby. When a teenage girl accidentally turns her whole school into zombies, she is forced to work with an annoying stuck-up zombie hunter and a best friend who keeps trying to chew off her arm, in order to find a cure before prom night turns into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

About teresawilde

Author of Young Adult Paranormals, Paranormal Romance, Historical Paranormal Romance, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, and poem unlimited.

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