Today I welcome Amanda McNeil to the blog for the Waiting for Daybreak blog tour. I asked her a few questions and she was kind enough to answer them.
Also don't forget to stop by all the other tour stops [schedule]
*Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 20-something, and I’ve been living in Boston for the last seven years, but I grew up in Vermont. I have my BA in History (concentrating in US History) and English and American Literature with a minor in Religious Studies and my masters in Library and Information Science. I’m currently employed as a medical librarian in the Boston area. When I’m not working, writing, or reading I’m working out, cooking, or exploring Boston.
*Could you tell us in short what the book is about?
I like to tell people that it’s a character study wrapped in zombies. Frieda is a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder and when a zombie virus strikes Boston, she is mysteriously immune. The drastic change in circumstances drives her to grow and change as a person.
*Which character was the easiest to write and which one was the hardest to write?
By far the easiest was Frieda’s cat, Snuggles. I’ve had pets since I can remember, so knowing how they behave was intuitive for me. Frieda was the most difficult. Getting into that dark place but simultaneously making her a sympathetic character was just emotionally draining on me as a writer.
*With which character do you identify the most?
To a certain extent, I can identify with both Frieda and Mike. We’ve all had our depressed, cynical moments, and I think it’s also quite typical for women to blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault, which is something Frieda does a lot at the beginning of the book. I suppose I’d ultimately have to say Frieda, though, because her relationship with her cat very much mirrors mine.
*Are your characters based on people you know?
Not really, no. I have had relationships, both dating and friendships, with people with mental instabilities, so I drew some of the interactions and thought processes off of that. I also will say that I did design Mike to be somebody I would typically have the hots for myself. I mean, why not? Lol.
*Where did the inspiration for this book come from? Where do you generally draw your inspiration from?
The inspiration for this book came about in Thanksgiving of 2010. I was working as a librarian for a psychiatric institution. I had just been reading about fMRI scans of people with mental illnesses and how they demonstrate that their brains are actually visibly different from those without a mental illness. I was thinking about that while walking home from public transit, and the city was empty, since most people had gone out of town for the holiday. The combination of the two led me to think of a zombie outbreak that left only the mentally ill as non-zombies.
I think that is exemplary of how much of my writing ideas come about. I tend to think constantly about things I’ve recently read or observed then morph those into real life. The border between my imagination and reality is very thin.
*What research did you do for this book?
I conducted extensive research on Borderline Personality Disorder. I wanted Frieda to embody both the problems people with BPD experience as well as the positives, such as admirable empathy. I also researched typical feline illnesses so I would get Snuggles’ symptoms and possible reasons and treatment accurate.
*Are there any other projects you are working on at the moment?
I have started my next novel, which is a Lovecratian tale about how Boston has changed since the dark gods took over. Obviously, this is a dark fantasy set in the near future.
*Do you have any writing quirks?
I superstitiously refuse to clean my laptop’s keyboard. I also need to be sipping something (tea, coffee, beer, wine, etc...) while working.
*What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am generally busy being a medical librarian, working out at the gym (I especially love zumba and weight lifting), exploring the city, taking in a hockey game at a bar, or playing my kinect. I also have a love for trashy reality tv. Sh, it’s my guilty secret.
*Are you a reader? What are you reading at the moment?
I am a huge reader! I have been book blogging since March 2009, and last year I read 107 books. At this moment I am reading: The Value of Rain by Brandon Shire on my kindle, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson via my Audible account, and The Klan Unmasked by Stetson Kennedy as a pdf. Please feel free to check out my GoodReads account for more on that.
*Is there anything you would like to add?
Just thank you for hosting me, Kim!
Amanda is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat. She writes scifi, horror, urban fantasy, literary fiction, and paranormal romance. She has previously published short stories and a novella.
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?
Buy the book: Amazon