Sunday, July 27, 2014
Interview with C. Lee McKenzie
Cover reveal for Double Negative by C. Lee Mckenzie
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We'd like to welcome author, C. Lee Mckenzie today!
Hi Jessica and Stephanie. Thanks so much for asking me to your Magical, Wonderful Blog today for this chance to chat.
Who are you?
I'm a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find us rather than the other way around. I write most of the time, garden and hike and do yoga a lot. I taught at San Jose State University and my field was Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication which carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I'm proud to say I know how to ask, “Where’s the toilet?” and scream “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects.
What are your books about?
In my books I take on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives.
My first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which deals with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. My second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives, came out in 2010. Here's what Francisco X. Stork (author of Marcelo in the Real World, NY Times Notable Children's Book, 2009; Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009) had to say about this book: "A beautifully written, meaningful, young adult novel. Carlie Edmund will jump off the page and pull you into a poignant and timely story of loss and ultimate gain.” Double Negative is my third Contemporary/Realistic YA. This one is different in that the main character is a teenage boy. He can barely read and he’s always in trouble.
What are the top three skills to hone for people just starting in the writing business?
If I'd written this when I first started out, my response would be very different from what I’m writing today. I would have said, master your craft, learn to be an excellent writer/editor, and above all, learn how to work with a group of writers who will give you honest feedback.
I still say these were very important skills, but at the front of all of these I'd now add: Learn about social networking. You can write a dynamite book, you can edit it so it's word perfect, you can work well with the best critique group on planet earth, but if you don't know how to network, you might as well stand on the street corner and sell your books one at a time. Well, that's a bit drastic, but it's close to true.
What are your top locations to write?
I work where I feel comfortable. A quiet room or outdoor space. I like light and airy in summer, snug and warm in winter. I like to be able to see my forest of redwoods, and I stare at that for inspiration a lot.
When I'm ready to print out, I usually take the pages onto the deck, sit in my glider (I wouldn't part with that for anything.) and sip coffee or something cold while I shred what I thought I'd perfected shortly before. Such fun.
But location is important to me when I'm really writing. When I'm jotting notes about ideas, I do that anywhere: grocery lines, ATM machine, trails or at 3AM in bed.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Don't laugh. I wanted to be an archeologist. I thought it was absolutely the most fascinating occupation anyone could have. When that didn't pan out, I decided a career in journalism was the next logical step.
You don't see the connection? It took me a while to figure it out, but when I did, it made sense. I love to investigate, to search, to piece together stories from scattered facts. Since those careers didn't happen, I studied linguistics. Are you seeing a pattern here? Bits and pieces, sorting, organizing, figuring out things, then creating stories. Now I write books. Why writing books fits with my other career choices should make perfect sense to any writer.
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