"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview with Amanda McNeil and a Review of Waiting for Daybreak

It is my pleasure to welcome author, Amanda McNeil, to my blog today. She is her today to answer some questions for us and promote her book Waiting for Daybreak. Lets get started.

Amanda is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat.  She writes sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy, literary fiction, and paranormal romance.  She has previously published short stories and a novella.

1- Tell the readers a little about yourself.
I grew up in Vermont and moved to Boston about 7 years ago.  My interest in everything and anything naturally led me into librarianship, and a late-blooming passion for health care and science funneled me into medical librarianship.  When I’m not working or writing, I’m working out, playing video games, cooking, or exploring Boston.  Ok, ok, and snuggling my kitty.

2- Have you always wanted to be a writer? How and when did you get started?
Absolutely, writing has always been my passion.  When I was very little, four or five, I wrote, illustrated, and bound my own book about a grasshopper.  Since then, I’ve always written, although when I finished graduate school was when I became more strict with myself about goals and time spent on it and such.

3- Can you tell us about the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge you are involved with. How did it come about and what exactly is it?
Well, actually, I’m more than involved with it--I created it!  At the time I was working for a psychiatric medical library, and I was becoming more involved in fighting stigma.  I’d seen other reading challenges around other book blogs focusing on removing stigma and supporting other minority groups, such as GLBTQ or people of color.  I looked and didn’t find one at all for mental illness, so I created the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge.

The challenge basically asks readers to choose a level (4, 8, or 12) and then read books, fiction or nonfiction, featuring a person or persons with a mental illness but who are not demonized.  The hope is that the power of reading to open us up to other worlds and viewpoints will help people understand mental illness better and remove some of the stigma.  Additionally, for those who have a mental illness, the reading challenge seeks to provide them with some comfort by seeing themselves featured in books.  I offer up a list of recommended reads sorted by illness to help folks get started.

4- I know you started a new job in March of this year. Tell us what it is and what does it entail?
I’m an education and information services medical librarian at a library that supports one of Boston’s medical schools, as well as that school’s teaching hospital.  My job is incredibly varied and interesting.  I spend a lot of time helping medical students learn how to do medical research, but I also help school of public health students conduct their research and prepare for their comprehensive exams, teach residents strategies for Evidence-Based Medicine, teach dental students strategies for Evidence-Based Dentistry, and lots more teaching!  I also spend time working in reference, and on the weekend I supervise work-study students and help keep the circulation department running smoothly.  I also do a lot of one-on-one reference sessions.

5- Tell us about your fitspo tumblr and how it got started.
It’s not really a fitspo tumblr, so much as a tumblr.  It has a lot of fitspo on it, but it also features other things that I just randomly find interesting or humorous, like quotes, links, memes, etc...  I originally started the tumblr as a place to keep the quotes from books I’m reading, but once I actually had my tumblr established, I discovered these large communities of feminists, veg*ns, and fitspo folks, and it exploded from there.  Tumblr is really quite fascinating.  I highly recommend people try it out for themselves.

6- Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us about it?
Indeed I do!  I’m using the dark fantasy setting of a Boston taken over by the dark gods of Lovecraftian fame to examine sibling relationships.  I’m quite excited, as it will be my first book told from multiple perspectives.

7- What types of books do you like to read and why?
I read around 50/50 nonfiction and fiction.  My nonfiction reads either support my hobbies like cookbooks for cooking or fitness books for working out or they’re educating me about a topic I’ve found I’m not so educated on or that I find interesting.  I go through definite phases in my nonfiction reading.  Last year, I read a lot on black women’s history.  This year, I’m reading more history of public health style books.  I also read a lot of memoirs.

My fiction reading focuses largely on genre books--scifi, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, historical fiction, and graphic novels in all of those categories.  I guess the why is that I’d rather be in a fantastical world that is unlike our own rather than read a book set in a world just like the one we live in.

8- What do you do for fun and relaxation?
Ha ha, well, I’m honestly not very good at relaxing.  I like to be constantly busy.  So, when I’m not working at my real, grown-up librarian job, I’m: working out, writing, reading, blogging, cooking, going to events in Boston, playing with my cat, hanging out with my friends, playing video games.  I reiterate that I fail epically at relaxation, although I am working on it. Yes, I’m working at relaxing.....

Thank you for having me, Eva! 

Blurb from Waiting for Daybreak

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?

Review of Waiting for Daybreak

Waiting for Daybreak
Amanda McNeil
June 2012
Kindle Edition

   Freida has never felt normal. She feels everything deeply and has a habit of hurting herself when she feels really depressed. One day after an unusually bad night, she stays home from work. A virus breaks out and the world has turned into a bunch of zombies. She is not sure if she is normal compared to the rest of the world or abnormal because she doesn't eat brains like the rest of them.
   This is a rather unique take on the world of zombies. Inside of this story is the author's reading challenge for the mentally ill. I am not sure I said this correctly; but this book would probably fit into her reading challenge list. Freida has a bit of low self-esteem and suffers from bouts of depression where she does herself harm to punish herself when she does wrong. I won't go into the method because that would be a spoiler. Despite her depression, she takes charge of things and manages to survive the zombie outbreak. She learns to make do with the things she has and even creates a garden for herself on the roof top  of where she lives. The first part of the book is basically about her survival. The second half is a bit of a love story about her meeting another survivor of the virus. It is not clear immediately, but Mike obviously has some mental handicap also. Freida  is exceedingly happy because she now has another human being in which to live with in the horrible situation they find themselves.  Life does not always turn out the way we want it to. It is not always happily ever after. The ending is quite the turn of events. Read for yourself to see what happens. As I said, this is a unique zombie tale, but well worth the read. I think you will be quite surprised.
   Disclosure: I was provided a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars



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