Hello hello and welcome, or welcome back, to my little corner of the internet. Today I’m so pleased to be bringing you an interview with author Amy McCaw. Amy’s debut novel, Mina and the Undead, came out at the beginning of April this year, and is one of the most fun yet creepy reads I’ve had the pleasure of reading! It was hotly anticipated by both me and the press, and for good reason; this book ticks all the boxes.
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.
Hi Amy! How are you? Congratulations on your recent release, “Mina and the Undead”.
What was it like working on, and then releasing, a book under Lockdown?
It was definitely interesting! I’d dreamed of seeing my book in a shop and obviously that couldn’t happen straight away. It also meant no launch party or events in real life. In the end though, those things would’ve been great but I had an amazing experience anyway. Lockdown meant we had to be creative about promoting my book online and doing events. I’ve loved connecting with readers on social media and talking to authors as far away as New York!
One of the things I really loved about the book was how vivid your description was of the setting. For those who haven’t read the author’s note in your book, could you share a little bit about why you decided on New Orleans as your location?
Thank you so much! I really enjoyed the challenge of bringing New Orleans to life. I visited the city in 2012 and I knew straight away that I wanted to set a book there. It’s one of the most unique and memorable places I’ve ever visited, with spooky settings, amazing food and the most fascinating local legends. A lot of people there believe in the supernatural and talk about the stories as part of their history. Some of the legends are grounded in historical fact and others have been passed on by word of mouth. I was really interested in how mythology and fact bleed together there, and I wanted to explore that in a book.
Young adult fiction is a growing market, and I read a lot of it. “Mina” is a very unique read, in all the best ways. What inspired you to create the story you did?
I wanted to write a fun book that I want to read! As you mentioned, YA is on the rise and YA horror is becoming particularly popular. My aim was to write something reminiscent of the slasher movies I loved in the 90s. As I started writing, I enjoyed adding 90s pop culture and vampire references. It ended up being a way of including everything I love in one book!
The book was the perfect blend of many themes, just like Jared’s cooking! What would you like people to most take away from reading “Mina”?
I always feel really happy when readers say the New Orleans or 90s setting is really evocative, as I worked hard to give the book a strong sense of place. I also wanted people to enjoy a fun, fast-paced read that keeps them guessing and hopefully gives them a few surprises! The characters were an important part of the book too, and I hope readers will root for them and find a character they like or can relate to.
The question I’m sure all authors both love and hate being asked…. Do you have plans for another book in the works?
I don’t mind that question! I’m currently working on a standalone, which is also a Gothic YA with plenty of mystery and scares. I hope I’ll get to write the sequel to Mina and the Undead at some point! I’m also working on two collaborative projects with author friends.
“Mina” was a wonderful throwback to the 90’s, and it’s made my gay heart need flannel shirts all over again. Why did you decide to step back in time a bit?
At first, I wasn’t sure whether to set the book in the present day or the past. When I was doing my research, I discovered that more people had been murdered in 1994 than any other year in New Orleans history. It was also the year the Interview with the Vampire movie was released. I decided to set the book in the aftermath of that – at a time when the murder rate was high and vampire-obsessed tourists were swarming to New Orleans . . .
Finally, how would you describe “Mina and the Undead” in three words?
Gothic, fun and twisty!
Thank you so much Amy for joining me for this interview, and I am not at all being biased by her taking this time out to speak to me when I encourage you to pick up a copy of Mina and the Undead. Come back again soon!