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.
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?
Thanks for being my guest today, Amanda! Would you call yourself a born writer?
Absolutely. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories. One of my earlier creative projects as a child involved writing, drawing, and binding my own story about a grasshopper at around the age of four. I’ve been writing ever since.
What was your inspiration for Waiting For Daybreak?
I was walking home from the public transit stop in Boston during a Thanksgiving holiday. Boston is one of those cities where almost everyone goes out of town for Thanksgiving, but I had to work. The streets were deadly empty, and it was foggy. It suddenly struck me that this was what a post-apocalyptic Boston would look like, and naturally I almost had myself convinced that zombies were going to come get me. I had also just happened to be reading articles at work that day about fMRI imaging of the mentally ill demonstrating that their brains are made up differently. That led me to wonder if that might make them immune to a zombie outbreak, and the rest just flowed from there.
My writing always revolves around women. Women trying to figure out their place in the world. How to function and be a happy, whole human being in a world not necessarily designed for us. I want to give readers the chance to see a woman’s perspective of events more typically described from a male perspective in scifi and horror. I also am keen on exploring issues of ableism, classism, and sexism. I hope that my writing will help people relate to and see things from groups traditionally underrepresented in genre fiction.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
One and a half years.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I am not a disciplined writer. At all. I wish I was more disciplined, but, as for all of us, life happens! I can’t really explain a typical writing day, because that’s too narrow of a time-frame for me. I’d say it’s more like I have a typical writing week. I’ll squeeze it in on my lunch break at work and hopefully twenty minutes or so on work nights. The bulk of my writing happens on weekends though. I wake up, make a nice breakfast, then sit down with tea and write for a few hours in the late morning.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
There are a couple of scenes that were emotionally difficult for me to write, particularly toward the beginning of the book when Frieda is not in a particularly healthy or functional place. Forcing myself to go to that dark place was far scarier than any zombies could ever be to me. It led to me putting things off periodically, even though I knew this was a story I needed to tell. Sometimes as a writer you just have to kick yourself in the pants and say, do it.
What do you love most about being an author?
Probably most of all when someone says that a character who is a strong, independent woman bugged them at first but they grew to love her. That shows me that someone’s perspective changed from reading what I wrote, and that is what I value most as someone who loves books. The ability of books to help us understand each other as human beings.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I self-published! I “practiced” the first time with a novella in July 2011. I’m glad I did that, because it was a difficult process to learn. Not intuitive at all! Since that time, though, better software has come out for assembling your work into a book, so it was much easier this time around. I am incredibly happy with being self-published. Everything from the cover to the plot to the dialogue gets to be exactly the way I envisioned it as the artist. I like how self-publishing and ereaders give the power to the people. Letting the people choose what they want to read and not read and not have some editor somewhere standing there saying yes or no. I follow other indie authors who I think are very talented who were turned down by publishing houses, and it shocks me that I never would have been able to read their work without the advent of ereaders. Participating in this culture of independent art makes me incredibly happy. Plus, it lets me write and publish at my own rate. Which we hope will speed up now, lol.
Where can we find you on the web?