Catherine McKenzie On Creating Distinct Narrative Voices + What She Wished She Had Known Before Becoming A Published Author

catherine mckenzie-author photoName: Catherine McKenzie
Author’s Website, Twitter
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Based In: Montreal, Canada
Education: BA in History; Law Degree from McGill University
Favorite Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pet Peeves: When you go to a restaurant to eat something you love there and it isn’t on the menu anymore.
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…An Astronaut.
Author Crush: John Greene.
Fiction or General Publishing How-To: Don’t talk about yourself all the time. Get behind other authors and support them.
Book I’d Recommend: The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison—great book!
Up Next: Hidden, releasing in the US April 1, 2014. After that…working o it!

You went to and graduated from law school. Early on…did you have a mental battle of sort between being an attorney and an author?

No, I never thought I’d be able to make a living writing, so I didn’t even really consider it. And now I do both so…
catherine mckenzie-book cover

You have a special section on your website for book clubs. How valuable do you think book clubs are to an author’s community?

I think any environment where people love books and talking about them is valuable. Word of mouth is so important to success as a writer. Plus, there’s always lots of wine at book clubs 

Were marriage statistics what initially led to your writing Arranged?

No, I actually know two people who’ve had arranged marriages—traditional ones—and I was kind of fascinated with what would lead someone to do that.

When you’re writing your books, and you get to the step where you’re naming your characters…do you go out of your way to give them uncommon names so that there won’t be a real life doppelganger?

Nope. Usually the name just comes to me. If not I look around the room at the zillion books I own and paste things together. And in Arranged, I deliberately named the main character after Anne of Green Gables. That being said, I’ve never met anyone with the name of any of my characters. That would be kind of fun!

How do you react when you find yourself stuck while writing a book?

I find that listening to certain music helps, or reading an awesome book, watching a great movie, going for a run. A solution usually presents itself.

catherine mckenzie

Tracey Garvis Graves praised your novel Hidden for using distinct narrative voices, and of course it isn’t something easy to master.

That was so nice of her to say that! It was a challenge that I sent myself in that book: could I write more than one character at a time and make them believable and distinct? I hope I achieved it. It was a fun – but difficult – process.

What do you wish you had known before you entered the publishing world?

That might be a pretty long list…but probably how much of being in the business is just that – a business. It would be great to just be writing and connecting with fans, but that’s just not the way it works. It wouldn’t have dissuaded me, but I might have done some things differently in the beginning.

Do you think it’s important for an author to have a mailing list?

Absolutely, but it’s also important not to abuse that list. I try to keep my mailings down to a couple a year, when I’ve got important things to announce.

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