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We are writers mainly from Australia and New Zealand who write speculative fiction with romantic elements. Be it fantasy, paranormal, dark urban fantasy, futuristic and everything in between.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Darklight On...Amanda Ashby Q&A

*apologies in the delay in posting* ~ Eleni

Today's Darklight On... is with Amanda Ashby. Welcome, Amanda!

How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre? And why YA?
Do you know that speculative fiction is one of those titles that I always see and I don't even really know what it is so I definitely didn't set it out to write it! However, when I first started writing romance novels, for some reason ghosts, witches and aliens kept appearing in these parallel side stories and while I loved them, I got the feeling that all of this extra 'weird' stuff wasn't quite was Hm&B were looking for, so I kept cutting them out.

Then when my dad died in 1995 I got the idea of writing a story about a dead girl who got kicked out of heaven and I realized that there was no way I could cut it out since this time it wasn't just a parallel story, it 'was' the story. And, since that was the one that sold, it encouraged me to embrace the weird stuff!!!! As for why I write YA it's because I've just never grown up. YA books have always been what I've read, I still read Dolly magazine and I still watch every teen TV show there is, not because it's research, but because that's what I love the best!!!

Please tell us a little about your road to publication.
Bumpy! It took about six years and twelve completed manuscripts (not to mention a gazillion partials) before I finally wrote You Had Me at Halo. Straight away the agent interest on that was a lot more intense than what I'd experienced before and once I signed with my agent (Jenny Bent) she sold it within three weeks of submission. It took a long time to realize that my dream had come true!!!

Your latest release is Fairy Bad Day. Congratulations. Can you tell us about how it came about? BTW – Love the cover. You definitely have been blessed by the fairies.
The title definitely came first on that book. I thought it was very cute so I wrote a chapter and sent it to my agent. She agreed the title was adorable but the story was 'meh' so we then brainstormed via email and she finally suggested that perhaps it could be about a fairy slayer who was the laughing stock of her school! Then I suddenly remembered one of the many weird parallel stories that I had previous written and deleted actually involved a bunch of evil killer fairies and so I sort of stuck the two ideas together, tortured myself for the next six months and it finally existed! And thank you, I love my cover as well. I have been very lucky!!!!

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?
I'm a panster who longs to be a plotter. I try so hard to plot but then I get lost in the story and suddenly go and change EVERYTHING. I'm a total nightmare to critique for because I have so many different versions of the one idea all in my head!!!!

Do have a favourite of your characters?
I really loved Candice from Zombie Queen of Newbury High. She was a hypochondriac and made me laugh every time she came onto the page. I also have another character called Malik who is a dead djinn and he is so ridiculous and over the top that I quite literally had to muzzle him in the end (he's still pissed about it). However, he won't be seen until next year when the book comes out!!!!

What are you currently working on?
I'm working on a new YA proposal for my agent (I should be working on a middle grade book, but this one is calling me BIG time). I've also got four books that are in various stages of edits with my publisher so I think I'll be busy with them over the next six months!

What is your favourite part of the process of writing?
Ideas. I love coming up with concepts and fleshing them out into proposals. I've sold my series and my latest YA this way and it's loads of fun. Of course not so much fun when I suddenly have to write them (see above comments on plotting vs pantsing!!!)

You are also a librarian. How much does that help in your writing?
It's been wonderful! I was published before I started working in the library but being able to see firsthand what kids are reading (and why) has been enlightening, since what we're told is 'hot' and what I see is 'hot' are sometimes two different things. I mean I never would've believed that Enid Blyton was still so popular but she is. Plus, being such an avid reader myself I find it constantly thrilling to see kids love books the way I do and I spend most of my time helping them and their parents to find new authors for them to read (sometimes I feel like a book cupid). So, while a lot of it might not help my writing career as such, it's hugely rewarding.

What can we expect from Amanda Ashby in the future?
Next year my middle grade series, Sophie's Mixed-Up Magic begins and hopefully all three books will be published quite quickly. I also have a new YA called Demonosity, which is a lot darker than anything I've done before (which doesn't really say much since Zombie and Fairy are very light, summer reads). Also, the new proposal I'm working on is a lot darker again and explores a lot more science and ethics than what I've done before!

Who are your favourite authors?
So many! Raymond E Feist, Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, Jill Mansell, Suzanne Collins, George Orwell and a zillion more.

What are you currently reading?
Hex Hall 2 Rachel Hawkins and To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or tv series?
Buffy, Angel, Firefly

Do you have advice for emerging writers?
Don't waste six years cutting out the weird stuff just so that you can try and fit into a market! It's good to be aware f the markets but at the same time you've got to find your own voice and use it to tell your own stories!!!!

Fairy Bad Day is out now!
Book 1 of the Sophie's Mixed Up Magic, Wishful Thinking
will be released Summer 2012
You can visit Amanda at her website.


  1. I loved Zombie Queen of Newbury High - it was witty, action packed, and just a great read. I have no doubt, Fairy Bad Day will be along the same path.

    LOL on muzzling your character. They just don't listen do they? :)

  2. Hi Amanda,

    I'm impressed by your ability to write proposals. That side of stuff does my head in. Playing with ideas is so fun - the possibilities! And I have to mention it ('cause Eleni may say something if I don't)...another Joss devotee ;)

  3. Hi Amanda!

    Great insight into your journey - and you sound very busy!

    I too found my 'niche' in a different genre. It's so great when everything then falls into place =)

  4. Hey Eleni - thank you so much! And you're right, my characters pay no attention to me at all (bit like my kids really!!!)

    Nicky - proposals can definitely be tough and I put a ridiculous amount of time into getting them right. Even though I've got an agent my aim with each proposal is to excite her first since if she is excited then there is more chance that she will sell it for me! And yes, Joss rules the world!!!!

    Mel - I know, right! It always makes me giggle when I look back at where I started. Actually, it's the same for my cps. We were all aiming at HM&B when we first met, but now I write light paranormal YAs, Christina Phillips writes the most lush, sexually charged historicals and Sara Hantz writes darky, gritty YAs


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