Today we have Amy McCaw on the blog to talk about her debut novel, Mina and the Undead! I read Mina last month and I had an absolute blast with it. It’s full of murder (always a good thing… in fiction), haunted houses, and local myths and legends, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s hunting for their next vampire fix!
About Mina and the Undead
New Orleans Fang Fest, 1995.
Mina’s having a summer to die for.
17-year-old Mina, from England, arrives in New Orleans to visit her estranged sister, Libby. After growing up in Whitby, the town that inspired Dracula, Mina loves nothing more than a creepy horror movie. She can’t wait to explore the city’s darkest secrets – vampire tours, seedy bars, spooky cemeteries, disturbing local myths…
And it gets even better when Mina lands a part-time job at a horror movie mansion and meets Jared, Libby’s gorgeous housemate, co-worker and fellow horror enthusiast.
But the perfect summer bliss is broken when, while exploring the mansion, Mina stumbles upon the body of a girl with puncture marks on her neck, clutching a lock of hair that suspiciously resembles Libby’s… Someone is replicating New Orleans’ most brutal supernatural killings. Mina must discover the truth and prove her sister’s innocence before she becomes the victim of another myth. – Goodreads
About the Author
Amy McCaw is a YA writer and blogger. She’s the author of Mina and the Undead, a YA murder mystery set in 1995 New Orleans.
Her main interests are books, movies and the macabre, and her debut novel has elements of all of these. If Amy’s not at a book event or reading, she can usually be found scribbling away in her writing room, surrounded by movie memorabilia and an out-of-control signed books collection. Unsurprisingly, she’s a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and has gone to conventions to meet James Marsters more times than she cares to admit.
Amy also loves travelling and has a particular affinity for America. She’s visited 29 states, 13 Man Vs Food restaurants and many bookish locations, including the cities where Twilight, Interview with a Vampire and Vampire Diaries were set.
If you want to talk with Amy about books or 90s movies, you can find her on Twitter. – Website
1. Congratulations! How does it feel to be a published author?
Thank you! To be honest, it still feels quite surreal – especially because bookshops aren’t open when the book comes out. I’ve wanted to be an author for so long and publication day is almost here. I’m really proud and excited that I’ve managed to do it!
2. How long did it take you to write Mina and the Undead from start to finish?
I had the idea when I visited New Orleans in 2012. I knew the main ingredients of vampires, myths and murders but I couldn’t figure out how to fit it all together. It fell into place in late 2016 and I’d finished writing the first draft by spring 2018.
3. Why did you decide to set the book in the 90s?
When I was plotting and researching the book, I realised that 1995 tied in to the plot really well. It’s the year the Interview with the Vampire movie came out (in the UK) and is just after the deadliest year in the history of New Orleans. I decided to go with it and filled the book with 80s and 90s pop-cultural references, as well as playing on the obsession with vampires at that time.
4. Mina and the Undead is your first published book, but is it the first book you wrote?
No, I’ve written quite a few others: a couple of unfinished ones, one that will never see the light of day and a few that weren’t too bad. The most recent ones got better each time, until I wrote a YA dystopian that I thought might actually get published. Then I wrote Mina and the Undead, and I really believed that this was the one.
5. Are you a plotter or pantser?
A bit of both! My best ideas usually come to me as I’m writing, but I always have a rough plan of where the plot will go. It doesn’t mean I’ll stick to it though. I find that it takes me a while to get into a new project and then I do stretches of writing and plotting in between.
6. Did anything about the publishing or writing process surprise you?
I started blogging a few years ago and I know quite a few authors, so there weren’t too many surprises. There were things I knew, such as how slowly the publishing industry can move, that didn’t truly sink in until I experienced them.
7. What do you hope readers will take away from Mina and the Undead?
I poured everything I enjoy into this book: from vampires and murder mysteries, to history and creepy locations. I hope this book will end up in the hands of readers with interests as quirky as mine and that they’ll find it a fun, twisty read.
8. What are your writing plans for 2021 (and beyond)?
I’m hoping to write a sequel to Mina and the Undead, but I’m currently working on a standalone in a similar dark vein.
9. What are some of your favourite vampire books, movies, or other media?
I have so many favourites! Buffy the Vampire Slayer has always been my favourite TV show. Everything just came together: the witty dialogue, found family, inventive storylines and brilliant cast. I also love The Vampire Diaries and True Blood (mainly the TV shows but the books too). My favourite vampire movie is definitely The Lost Boys, which is such an entertaining, creepy watch with everything I love about vampires crammed into it. One of the first vampire books I read was Interview with the Vampire, so that book has always been quite a special one for me.
10. You’ve visited a lot of bookish locations, are there any others you’d like to visit when we’re allowed to travel again?
That’s a really good question! I’d love to go back to Bath (the home of Jane Austen), Haworth (the Brontës) and Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare). Top of my list is Prague. I’ve been desperate to go there ever since I first read Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
11. Who do you like to dress up as at Halloween?
I love visiting scary places at Halloween, like immersive horror experiences, but I haven’t dressed up properly for a while. I have bought a vampire costume to wear for my launch so that will probably get a second outing this Halloween. It’s just a shame that I haven’t perfected how to talk in fangs…
Thank you so much, Amy, for taking the time to answer my questions! I was actually really hoping for a sequel to Mina, so this made me happy. As did your love of The Vampire Diaries!
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!