Publication Date: June 4, 2012
Synopsis: 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?
Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.
In 2010, I was working in a library affiliated with a psychiatric hospital. This work exposed me to a lot of modern psychiatric research. On the day I got the germ of the idea for ‘Waiting For Daybreak’, I had just been reading about fMRI images of brains of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. The images showed that their amygdalas are smaller in size than those of people without BPD. I happened to be working over Thanksgiving. The city of Boston empties out drastically over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a gloomy, foggy day. I got off my bus and was ruminating on what I had read that day while thinking how post-apocalyptic the city looked. That’s when the thought struck me. If the brains of people with mental illness are actually physically different, might that make them survive an apocalypse of a virus that attacks the brain? The rest just flowed from there.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
Overall, I found it incredibly uplifting. There were parts of being inside Frieda’s head that were incredibly difficult. Writing about her relationships was hard. But living with the concept, going through the plot, believing so strongly in having a main character who has a mental illness but isn’t demonized, it all strengthened my own character. I have much more confidence now in myself and in the stories inside me, and I’m excited to see how the writing process continues to affect me.
Q. How did you come up with the title?
It doubles as a metaphor and some literal scenes in the book. Night is the most dangerous time for Frieda, so she spends a lot of nighttime watching for danger waiting for the safety of daylight. But untreated mental illness can also often feel like the deepest, darkest, neverending night, where your only hope is waiting for the dawn. I wanted to touch on both aspects of the book.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Beating procrastination, which is really tied into beating perfectionism and anxiety. They say that a lot of people procrastinate because they’re perfectionists. They’re so worried about having everything perfectly ready and being perfectly in-the-zone that they don’t start until it’s almost too late. That definitely describes me. Convincing myself to stop worrying and just write. You can fix it in editing. That’s the hardest part.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
Absolutely. I’m currently focused on short stories and the sequel to my paranormal romance novella, ‘Ecstatic Evil’. The next novel hasn’t 100% solidified yet, but it most likely will be cyberpunk. With motorcycles.
Q. What are you currently reading?
On my Kindle is ‘The Stoning of Soraya’ M. by Freidoune Sahebjam. My audiobook is ‘Metatropolis’, a short story collection by multiple different authors. My print book is ‘Ecstasy in Darkness’ by Gena Showalter.
Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, which I read at 15, started my (gradual, with many pit-stops) conversion from Baptist to Atheist.
Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
The biggest, most recent news in my life is that my boyfriend and I moved in together just a couple months ago. He’s the first partner I’ve ever lived with, and I’m really enjoying having a home together.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A big thank you to everyone who’s read any of my work!
Ms. McNeil is offering one (1) e-copy of 'Waiting For Daybreak' for giveaway!
To enter: please leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen at random once the giveaway ends October 18, 2013.