Sunday, March 15, 2009

Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby is an Australia-born writer who lives in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand. Her books are You Had Me At Halo and the newly released Zombie Queen of Newbury High.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm currently reading Colonel Brandon's Diary which is written by a friend of mine, Amanda Grange, and is a retelling of Sense and Sensibility from Colonel Brandon's point of view.

This is Amanda Grange's fifth Jane Austen book (she's done Darcy, Knightley, Captain Wentworth and Edmund Bertram) and it was probably the one I was most curious about since so much of Colonel Brandon's backstory is glossed over in favor of the other stars of the book. I really love the way she's built up his earlier years and it's so in keeping with Jane Austen's own style that I could see threads of Mr. Bennet in the way she created Colonel Brandon's father (though he didn't have the calming influence of Lizzie to help wipe away his mockery).

The other thing I love about reading these retellings is that she isn't trying to change the plot, but rather she's just letting the reader see the same picture but from a slightly different angle. Oh, and her books are funny as well, with all of Jane Austen's humor and a lot of her own.

The next book that I'm going to read next is Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud which is book three in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Sometimes I think I'm actually a fourteen year boy stuck in a forty year old woman's body because I love these sort of teen/mid grade adventure stories where the stakes are high and so is the action, and after reading the first two books, it's already turning into one of my favorite series ever. Not only is the writing sharp and the humor brilliant, but the twists and turns on historical events are just absorbing.
Visit Amanda Ashby's website, blog, and MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue