Monday, August 06, 2007

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Amanda Ashby

For a very lazy Sunday spent mostly watching movies on the various HBO channels, I had a very productive day. I managed to dream up an entire book -- the main plot, some subplots, the characters, the storytelling style and even some jokes. Now I have to figure out if it's worth dropping what I'm working on to play with. Back when I first started trying to write, I had a bad habit of coming up with a new idea one chapter into a book, then dropping that book to write the new one, and so forth, until I had a lot of first chapters. There's something to be said about sticking to something and finishing it. But there's also something to be said about listening to your writing spidey sense and knowing when you've got something special that really is better than what you were working on. I think I'll let myself play with this new idea today, and if I can do better than sixteen meandering pages, then I'll go with it. I don't even really have to outline or do character development because I already just know this stuff about this story. It's kind of freaky.

In the meantime, I've got a new Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry from an author who's a fairly regular reader here. The book is You Had Me at Halo by Amanda Ashby, and it's been called "The Lovely Bones meets Bridget Jones." (Which rhymes!)

Holly Evans has just seen her own body laid to rest. If it had been up to her, she wouldn’t have chosen that particular polyester dress for the event. Still, she could live with that (so to speak), if it guaranteed a quick jump to Level 3 of the afterlife, which she hopes will feature both reruns of Friends and reunions with long-lost loved ones.

But Holly has some mortal baggage to unload first, starting with the matter of how she died. Yes, she drowned in her bathtub under suspicious circumstances, but she did not kill herself. Holly had too much to live for, from her recent promotion to taking the next big step in her relationship. Okay, her life had a few loose ends, but whose doesn’t?

Holly's heavenly shrink isn’t buying it. He says she has to return to earth to straighten things out. The thing is, she’ll need to borrow someone’s body to do it—and the body in question belongs to none other than computer geek Vince Murphy. Oh, and although Vince was supposed to have vacated the premises, he apparently never got the memo.

Now, Holly has forty-eight hours to resolve her issues while sharing arms, legs, and...other things...with a guy she barely noticed while she was alive. But the real surprise is what life has to offer when you have only two days to live it...

You Had Me at Halo

And now, the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
On the morning of my dad's funeral I was helping clean the house and as I decided to ignore the space under the bookshelf that needed dusting, I suddenly had the strangest feeling that he was watching me (and he wasn't happy because he was a bit of a clean freak and I obviously didn't inherit the gene!!) Anyway, all through the day I kept imagining my dad providing an alternative commentary to the funeral service and while it was a terribly sad day, I did find this comforting. Then three weeks after the funeral the character of Holly Evans just came charging into my head and I started writing the book.

Describe your creative process.
My writing process is a bit all over the place really. I don't normally write out a full synopsis, but I do like to do a strong blurb so that I know the hooks etc and perhaps a few key scenes. Then I start to write and see what happens. I always edit as I go but sometimes if I know that early chapters need major work, I'll just make notes and leave them to the end, so that it doesn't slow me down too much.

Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
Until last week I had to have diet coke, but I've been very brave (stupid?) and have given it up so now it's just me and some soda and lime. I sometimes make a playlist up a listen to that while I'm working, but if I get too engrossed then I tend to forget its on. Oh, and there is always chocolate!

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
My heroine is a lot more outspoken than I am and in a way I think she says all the things I would like to
say if I was a bit braver!!! Also, she loves television and M&Ms which is definitely me!!!

If you only had a couple of days on this earth, what would you try to do?
Well for a start, unlike my heroine, I would try and make sure I didn't get stuck in anyone else's body
(unless of course it was with David Boreanaz). Apart from that I think I'd hang out with my kids and
husband and pretend it was just a normal day.

What would you find on your preferred level of the Afterlife?
One of my happiest childhood memories was sitting under a tree one summer reading a Trixie Belden book and eating chips. When I look back on it, it seemed like a true moment of bliss, so perhaps if my level could have lots of books, movies, trees and chips, I'd be pretty happy.

(Hey! Another Trixie Belden fan! I loved those books!)

Chocolate: dark or milk?
Dark (and milk. But I'm going to pretend that I'm decisive!)

What are you working on now?
I've just finished a young adult book about a girl who accidently turns her whole school into zombies. That was insanely fun to write and while I'm waiting for my revisions on it, I've been thinking about a new women's fiction book, which has been giving me the giggles!!!

(If my memories of high school are accurate, how could you tell if the school turned into zombies? Would there be much difference, especially first thing in the morning?)

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
Even though I wrote this book after my dad died, it's definitely not a sad book and I don't think I really
used it as a way of therapy. If anything, all I wanted to do was create a kooky sort of heaven where I could imagine him being.

For more info, visit Amanda's web site. Or, you can buy the book at Amazon.

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