Vampires are back with a bang in Amy McCaw’s debut YA horror. Hailed as Buffy meets Charmed, this is one April release we can’t wait to get our fangs into.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel Mina and the Undead?
Mina is staying with her sister in New Orleans for Fang Fest 1995. She’s thrilled to land a job in a horror movie mansion, reconnecting with her sister while they scare the tourists. When Mina stumbles upon a body at work, she’s dragged into a murder investigation. Someone is replicating New Orleans’ darkest myths, and Mina must discover the truth before she becomes the latest victim.
There have been a lot of comparisons between your book and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I know you love) but are there any lesser known influences?
I still haven’t got over these comparisons! Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been my favourite TV show since it aired, so it’s pretty much the biggest compliment anyone can give me. It’s a shame my book was set before the Buffy series came out, so I could only reference the movie!
As well as watching Buffy, I also spent a good chunk of the 90s reading Point Horror. They were fast-paced and gory, and I loved how they leaned into my favourite horror tropes. I think a lot of that has seeped into my writing.
My dad also owned a video shop when I was growing up. Though I was fascinated by the horror section, they were the only videos I wasn’t allowed to watch. I used to read the backs of cases and imagine those stories of bloodthirsty dolls and possessed children. I first came across many of the horror-movies referenced in Mina and the Undead during that tantalising early exposure.
What is the first piece of fiction you ever remember writing?
My first attempts at fiction were nothing like what I write now. I read a lot of Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton, so my early books were heavily influenced by them: lots of plucky talking animals and girls at private boarding schools.
The first book I can remember being committed to was a series of short stories about The It Family (which I now realise was a shameless combination of Cousin It and The Addams Family’s names). The It Family were a group of fluffy aliens who got into all kinds of trouble when they came down to live on Earth. I wrote it on individual sheets of A5 paper with a line guide and hid it in a shoebox in my wardrobe. I’d love to read it now, but it’s probably wedged somewhere in my mum’s attic.
My first proper YA book was also about vampires, not long before Twilight came out and every agent on the planet was inundated with vampire stories. I haven’t read it for ages so I might cringe now, but at the time it was the book that made me think I could get something published one day.
Which of your minor characters do you think deserves a spin-off story?
Della is one of my favourite characters and she’s got a big back story in my head, some of which is alluded to in Mina and the Undead. If I get to write a sequel, her story will feature heavily in that!
Which novel (other than your own) do you think would make a great TV adaptation?
That’s a really tough question – there are so many! I’m going to have to cheat and pick three.
It would be fantastic to see the spooky, suffocating village of Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis brought to life onscreen. The village is famous as a horror-movie setting, so it’d be the perfect subject matter for a horror series.
I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich, and I’d love to see how a production company would adapt that book. The scenery would be absolutely stunning, and I can already feel the simmering creepiness building.
Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy would also be fantastic onscreen! The London setting, with those familiar locations repurposed for dark and scary scenes, would be brilliant.
Which song would be the perfect soundtrack to your novel’s closing scene?
‘How Soon is Now’ by The Smiths would definitely have to play over the closing moments over the book and into the credits. It’s one of the songs referenced in the book, and it would be a nice nod to The Craft, one of my favourite 90s movies.