Monday, March 9, 2009

GCC Tours Amanda Ashby

I'm super excited to tour one of the GCC writers, Amanda Ashby. I believe she's the only member of our group who "comes from the land down under, where women glow and men plunder." For those younger readers, that's actually some lyrics from a song by Men at Work. An eighties song. Wow, I'm dating myself. (What does plunder mean anyway? Is that an Australian term?) Amanda actually lives in New Zealand, which isn't really Australia, but it's close enough. Okay, focus.

So, anyway, Amanda is stopping by to tell us about her new book. But what I really want to know is why Australian guys are all so cute? Simon Baker, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, (the late) Heath Ledger, Keith Urban. What's the story? Is it something in the water? Anyway, I'm going off track. Sorry! Here is some information about Amanda and her awesome new book, ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH, as well as my Q&A with Amanda. Enjoy! (And seriously, Amanda, tell me what the deal is with the Australian guys!)

Love spells gone wrong, boyfriend-stealing cheerleaders, and Zombies who want to eat you for dinner. In ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH by Amanda Ashby, love has never tasted— or rather felt— so good. (Speak; Paperback original; 978-0-14-241256-5; $7.99; 224 pages; Ages 12 up; March 2009)

Tomorrow is prom, and all Mia wants to do is cast a love spell on her date Rob Ziggerman to keep him away from cheerleading goddess Samantha and save him all to herself. But somehow she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class instead. At first Mia loves all the attention her classmates are giving her; treating her like a queen, compliments galore, and all the chocolate a girl could want. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up. Why? Because in twenty-four hours, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. That’s what being the ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH means. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, especially when the alternative means that her classmates and teachers will be feasting on her bones. But in the meantime, she’s suggests that no one wear white to tomorrow night’s prom, because she has a feeling that things could get very messy.

About Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and has spent the last ten years dividing her time between England and New Zealand. When she’s not moving countries, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to watch television, eat chocolate and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that between ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two young children. Her debut adult book You Had Me at Halo has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award. This is her first book for young adults. Visit her on the web at


"Zombie Queen of Newbury High is a delightfully fun, fresh, and funny read! Amanda Ashby creates a highly likeable heroine in Mia Everett, who, despite her best intentions, turns her classmates into zombies. And with prom quickly approaching, she must find a way to undo it before, well before she gets eaten! Never again will you look at prom, your classmates, or even zombies in quite the same way! ~Alyson Noel, New York Times Bestselling author of Evermore

"Zombie Queen of Newbury High is a delicious treat! Who knew zombies could be both fun and funny? It's Zombilicious!" -- Michelle Rowen, author of Bitten & Smitten

"Zombie Queen of Newbury High is where popularity can turn you undead (with an unsettling appetite) and Prom will be a little dangerous this year. Amanda Ashby moves into the YA world with snapping prose and an entertaining high school mix of teen crushes, popularity drama, and a zombie squad. Zombies beware--you'll love to follow the twists and turns of this fresh and fun novel!" -- Kelly Parra, author of Invisible Touch

“Amanda Ashby's book, Zombie Queen of Newbury High, is filled with twists, turns and humor, sure to totally draw you in. I loved the fact that this read was more than your typical high school teen love story. If you're like me and can't get enough of books filled with mystery, suspense, with a dash of relatable relationship and friendship probs on the side, I def recommend picking up your own copy—you won't regret it!” -Jami Katz Book Club

“Amanda Ashby writes a very entertaining and quick read about a teenage protagonist who has to fix the catastrophic problem she created - or else she'll never be able to enjoy the ball with Prince Charming. Many readers will be able to relate to Mia and her quirky ways, and others will simply fall in love with her witty humor. And if that doesn't work, there are always hunks Rob and Chase. ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH deserves the five stars. This is a very original story that isn't too far-fetched that teenage readers can't relate at all - it's the perfect mix of reality and imagination.” 5 stars teensreadtoo

"...full of humor, romance and suspense, and her characters are well-developed and a joy to get to know. Five Stars." - Bitten By Books

"Feel-good, fun and utterly lovely - if you're a Buffy/Angel fan, or a zombie, or both, or neither, don't miss this one! Highly recommended." - Chicklish

Do you (or did you ever) have a writing group? Who are the first people to read your book once it’s completed?
I do have a writing group and we call ourselves the witches – not because we cackle (though we probably do) but because we talk about everything ‘warts and all’. Anyway, there are four witches including myself and they are always the first people to read my work – mainly because I need them to save me from my terrible grammar and spelling. Long live the witches!

What writers do you consider your “sisters”? Are there any published writers that you hang out or tour with a lot? Call? Email? IM?
Well there are the witches – Sara Hantz (who writes young adult books), Pat Posner (who writes children’s books) and Christina Phillips (who writes what she calls smut!). I’ve also got a lot of online friends in the US and from when I lived in the UK I became friends with quite a few of the Harlequin Mills and Boon authors as well (and trust me, no one parties like romance writers party!!!!)

Who do you find yourself being compared to or are often put together with in reading lists or book clubs?
When my debut novel YOU HAD ME AT HALO came out Publishers Weekly said it was a cross between The Lovely Bones and Bridget Jones and I honestly don’t think anyone could say anything to top that. I continue to be ridiculously thrilled by it – though if I had the combined sales figures I’d probably be even happier!!!!!

What writers do you wish would be in your “clique”? (It doesn’t have to be in your genre….doesn’t even have to be living! For example, I’d pick Alice Hoffman, Jodi Picoult, Sarah Dessen, Oscar Wilde, Stephenie Meyer, Meg Cabot, Stephen King and Joan Didion).

Do you know I’m such a sneaky sly stalky sort of person that I’ve managed to become online friends with a lot of the authors who I really admire and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re in a clique (mainly because they might read it and deny all knowledge of it!!!!) it’s cool to even sort of know them! In fact, I just had a zombie blog party to celebrate the release of my new book and it was wonderful to ask authors like Alyson Noel, Michelle Rowen, Megan Crane and Nalini Singh to come and join me and have them all say yes – I had about twenty all together and let me tell you that I felt like the coolest girl in school!!!!!

If someone was going to join your book club, what would be a “must read” in order to join?

Oh – that is such a good question. In fact when I was twenty-one and first my cousin in England she handed me a book and said ‘if you don’t like this then we can’t be friends’!!! Talk about fighting words! Anyway, the book was Riders by Jilly Cooper and I loved it and my cousin and I have been friends ever since. But as for me, I’m going to say Arabella by Georgette Heyer. If they don’t like Georgette Heyer then it’s just not going to work between us!

What was your “initiation” to writing?

Honestly, I’m such a slow learner! I grew up being an avid reader and my creative writing in high school was very strong but it didn’t for a minute occur to me that I could be a writer. Instead I studied journalism at University and hated every minute of it. Then when I graduated I went traveling to London (like all good Australians do!!!) (MKH NOTE: I was in London too! Maybe we passed each other on the tube!) and then when I was 27 I quite literally woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be a writer. It was such a random thought but the minute it was there it never went away. I started trying to write romance novels before realizing that what I considered a romance novel wasn’t quite the same as what other people thought. Then I found paranormal and chick lit books and suddenly started to get somewhere!

When did you first feel that you’d officially joined the “published writers’ club”?

Because I live in New Zealand and my books are published in NZ I never really feel like a published writer, but when I went to San Francisco last year for the RWA conference I walked into a Borders almost a year after my first book had come out and there it was sitting on the shelf. I seriously couldn’t believe they would still have it in stock and even though it was only spine out, it was just beyond exciting to see first hand proof that I really hadn’t made the whole thing up!!!!
What was your best/worst memory of high school?
My therapist has recommended that I never try and revisit my high school memories unless I’m accompanied by an adult!! Hahaha, I joke, I joke! Actually nothing too traumatic ever happened to me at school and I was just conscious of wanting to get out of there and onto something more exciting – which is exactly what happened when I went to University. So much more fun than school!

In SISTERS OF MISERY, the last place new members want to go to is Misery Island. But if you had the choice, what island would you go to and what would you take with you?

My husband and I actually lived on a place called Russell Island for a year, which is in Moreton Bay, just near Brisbane, Australia. Anyway there was no bridge so you could only get there by water taxi or car ferry and the two things that we never left the mainland without were beer and fly spray, so I guess I’d just keep with tradition and take them!!!!

Finally, what can you tell me about your book? Give me a quick run-down about why I’d want to pick it for my own book club.

Zombie Queen of Newbury High is what happens when seventeen year old Mia Everett does a love spell to stop herself being dumped before prom, but instead she accidentally turns her entire senior year into zombies. Seriously, it could happen to anyone. She is then forced to work with zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller to find a cure before Mia ends up as first course in the zombies’ brand new, flesh only diet.

As for why you might want to pick it, well I think this book is a good cautionary tale against doing love spells! It’s also quite light hearted and has a lot of Buffy references in it, not to mention that it has a very pretty dress on the cover and really, if you’re going to read a book, it should be one with a pretty dress on the front!!!!! (MKH: I AGREE!!)

Zombie Queen of Newbury High (March 2009) 5 stars teensreadtoo
You Had Me at Halo (out now) 4 1/2 star Romantic Times TOP PICK

For more information on Amanda and her books, visit I believe she is also running a contest for a cute zombie survival kit plus a copy of either Zombie Queen of Newbury High or her first book You Had Me at Halo and all people have to do is leave a comment on any (or all) of her GCC tour stops and then email Amanda the link to go into the draw. Everytime someone comments, they can re-enter the competition! Good luck, everyone!


Megan - first up thank you so much for touring me!!!!!!! Though I warn you that if that song stays in my head all day then I'm sending the zombies out for you!!!

Oh, and don't worry what plunder means because everyone changes it to 'chunder' which is a delightful Australian expression for throwing up. Oh yes, we're very classy down here!!!!

I'm actually from Australia but moved over to NZ. However, I can't say I get the Aussie/Kiwi guy thing. Probably why I married an Englishman!!!!!

Great interview! I love You Had Me At Halo and can't wait to read the zombie book! I agree with the Austrailian hottie factor. Of course, there are many hotties in the US, but there are quite a few from Austrialia, too!

Hey, I didn't realize that tidbit about Australian men. It's true though *grins*

Scottish men do it for me, whew! *fans face*


Zombie Queen sounds awesome!!

Me again, Amanda. I'm having fun following you around the internet. ;-)

Thanks for the fun interviews.

It was only a couple of years ago that I was first "introduced" to Georgette Heyer books. Gotta say, I've liked what I've read. :)

Great interview, guys! All this reading is making me super excited to read the book.

Great interview. And the Aussie guys arent just cute, they also have that wonderful accent, of course so do British guys. I can listen to them talk for hours.

And a very pretty dress it is! I'm loving this tour and learning so much about you! It's like the Zombie party all over again!

Doesn't it feel great to just have a split moment where you realized something? I remember walking home from my volunteer work and realized that I no longer had a crush on a guy friend of mine. It's like a big weight lifted!

Oh Amanda I am not sure I would want Stephen King in my clique, he seems like he would be a very tough critic

Nice interview! :) I think I'll borrow Arabella by Georgette Heyer from the library soon.

Fun and interesting article. I agree with your comment that a lot of Aussie guys are hot, with one major exception. Orlando Bloom is English and THE major hottie in the world as far as I'm concerned!!!

To Amanda: The thing about calling you and your writer friends "the witches" is really funny!