Waiting For Daybreak - Amanda McNeil (Review & Interview)
I have taken part in a blog tour this month for Post Apocalyptic Zombie novel, "Waiting For Daybreak". This tour is being hosted by the author herself, Amanda McNeil from her blog Opinions of a Wolf. My post on this tour includes a review and intereview but I hope you all visit some of the other sites in the tour for further guest posts, intereviews, reviews and giveaways.
I had originally assumed that "Waiting for Daybreak" by Amanda McNeil would be just another Zombie apocalypse novel, which seem to be all the rage at the moment. However, there is a little bit more to the novel that this as McNeil has chosen to concentrate the story on a character that had a personality disorder long before the apocalypse occurred. I found this to be quite an original and refreshingly different viewpoint which ensured I was willing to read this ahead of the many other run of the mill zombie novels that are sitting on my bookshelf.
The story itself is broken up into two distinct sections, the first focuses on the day to day life of Freida, a young woman with a troublesome past who is trying to survive a zombie apocalypse alongside her pet cat, Snuggles. This section of the novel almost reads like a diary, which explores some of the actions she has taken to ensure her survival such as the fortification of her apartment. In addition, we get to follow Freida's musings as she recalls the various events that occurred just before the zombie outbreak and over the first few weeks.
The second half of the novel however morphs into a sort of love story between Freida and another uninfected man named Mike that she discovers in the city. However, when it is revealed that Mike has his very own personality issues, the awkward and desperate romance they have undertaken looks certain to end in some form of disaster.
Without doubt the utilisation of a main character with some form of disorder leads to a rather interesting story. Particularly when Mike is thrown into the mix and the novel explores some aspects of what it really means to be normal when the world itself is anything but. In addition, Freida herself is an incredibly complex person and I was impressed by McNeil's ability to develop such a unique character to the point that I could actually relate to her on some level, despite the way she would think. She really does come across as quirky and likeable despite her issues and I particularly appreciated how it becomes clear that the very personality traits that caused her problems in the past that has probably led to her survival now.
The one thing that I was a bit disappointed with was the rather short length. Don't get me wrong, the pacing has been used really well to make sure that the story is entertaining and self contained but the ending felt slightly abrupt to me and I think a few elements could have been expanded upon. Basically, I would have liked to discover more about the world and Freida herself and am now hoping that McNeil will decide to expand on the story via future novels.
Overall, this was an entertaining post apocalyptic zombie novel that also makes the reader think about how the normalcy of life is relative. It isn't always a light and easy novel to read due the characters McNeil has utilised but these characters are what make it unique. I think any fan of post apocalyptic survival horror that is after something a little bit different and thought provoking will enjoy this.
Hi Amanda, please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
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 healthcare and science funneled me into medical librarianship. When I’m not working or writing, I’m working out, playing videogames, cooking, or exploring Boston. Ok, ok, and snuggling my kitty.
I don’t think anyone “becomes” a writer. I think you’re born a writer. Whether or not you choose to do anything with the stories inside you is the key. When I decided to crack down on myself and get serious about my writing was when I graduated from my masters program. I realized I was in my mid 20s, I no longer had the excuse of all my free, non-work time being eaten up by grad school, so it was now or never. Obviously I chose now.
Where did the inspiration for Waiting For Daybreak's plot, characters and setting come from?
I had been reading at work about fMRI scans of people with Borderline Personality Disorder showing that their amygdalas are a different size from those of people without a mental illness. I was thinking about that while I was walking home from the bus stop (I take public transit). It happened to be Thanksgiving weekend, and Boston empties almost completely out as most of the population goes someplace else for the holiday. The empty streets combined with the fMRI studies made me think: what if there was a zombie virus to which the mentally ill were immune? It just flowed from there.
The writing process differs from author to author. What’s YOUR writing process?
Usually I get the spark of an idea--a hypothetical situation or a scene. Then I can’t get that out of my head, so I sit down and write. After a few scenes, more of the story comes to me, so I make a few bare-bones notes (names, key situations or scenes) and just go from there. After that it’s editing and inserting chapter breaks. Then cover design and formatting!
There are lots of people out there who dream of being a writer, what do you think is the most important piece of advice you could give?
First, stop saying that you “dream of being a writer.” You either are a writer or you aren’t. Second, stop stalling and just do it. Everyone procrastinates. Procrastination and hesitation aren’t signs you can’t write. They’re signs you’re nervous and hesitant. Stop being nervous, sit down, and write. No excuses.
What’s next? What projects are you currently working on and what do we all have to look forward to?
I’m working on a dark fantasy novel in which the dark gods of Lovecraft fame have taken over the world and humanity has divided into groups that have vastly different ideas on how to deal with the problem. I’m extremely excited about it because it’s my first book that will be written from multiple perspectives.
There also will be a sequel to Waiting For Daybreak. I’m aiming for it to come out in the summer of 2014, but we’ll see how quickly I can get the research done. Plus the dark gods are demanding attention first.
And finally, what books have had the greatest influence on you?
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale changed my entire life. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is permanently on my kindle. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. And of course Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.
Thank you so much Amanda for your time and good luck with this promotion and your future novels.