This week I’m welcoming the lovely Zanna Mackenzie onto my blog. A very talented writer, she has two books currently on release at the moment with more to come in the pipeline. Take it away Zanna … !
Congratulations! You’ve had 2 books published in 2013. Tell me about each of them.
The Love Programme, published by Astraea Press, is a contemporary romance set in Scotland:
Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry and needs a place to escape to for a while.
Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme – two weeks of luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and romance in wildest Scotland.
When Lucy meets Paul – the young, handsome owner of the Highland estate – she thinks she may have found the love of her life but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul, with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?
How Do You Spell Love? published by Crooked Cat, is a contemporary romantic comedy drama:
Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?
Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.
When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.
Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.
Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.
Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…
When did the book-writing bug hit?
I think I’ve always had it! I remember making my own books when I was probably about eight years old. I got lots of blank paper, folded and stapled them together to make a book and then wrote stories in them. I was a strange child…..!!
And your journey towards publication, was it a smooth or a rocky one?
I’m amazed to say it was a fairly smooth one. I wrote three novels over three years and put them through various professional manuscript services and learnt loads from that process. I edited the books but then lost confidence and didn’t actually send them out to agents or publishers for consideration until my husband encouraged me to send two of the novels to different publishers in August 2012. Within a month I’d been offered a contract for The Love Programme with Astraea Press and a contract for How Do You Spell Love from Crooked Cat. I was totally stunned – in fact, I still can’t believe it!
Who or what inspires you to write?
Anything and everything – ideas just appear randomly in my head, they might come from a character in my current work in progress or sometimes they’re sparked by a snippet of conversation, something on TV, a book or magazine I’ve read.
Location is very important for me in a novel, I love writing about places I know and, in turn, if a book is set in a place I love, I’m sold. How important is location to you?
Location is very important to me too. I’ve written four books in total and they have all been set in my favourite places in the UK – Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Yorkshire Moors & Coast and Derbyshire’s Peak District. I’m not a city person so my books tend to have rural settings.
Do you outline your plot meticulously before writing or do you fly by the seat of your pants, allowing your characters to be in the driving seat?
I start off by planning but, strange as it sounds, the characters usually take the plot off in totally different directions and the book ends up quite different to how I had originally planned it.
Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favourite and why?
Of my two published novels then I’d say it’s probably Lucy in The Love Programme, I think there’s quite of lot of ‘me’ in her character. If I can include unpublished characters then I’d also say Zane, the lead male character in the book I’ve just finished writing – he’s a total sweetheart!
What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you need coffee to survive?
I don’t have a typical writing day. I’m self-employed and work from home in my day job as an editor, writer and proof reader for the business publications of a chamber of commerce so that job pays the bills and has to take priority. Once the day job is sorted I then do social media and book promotion bits and pieces and blog stuff, and then writing and editing on my work in progress novel. I try to make Fridays a complete writing day as often as possible but if I have proofing deadlines for the day job then that has to come first and I’ll probably end up doing some writing in the evenings or weekends instead.
As someone who scored a double whammy, any advice for people aspiring to be published? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Have courage! I honestly don’t think I would be a published author if my husband hadn’t nagged me to send my work to publishers. So I’d say put aside all your doubts, insecurities and negative thinking and either just start sending your work out for consideration or get yourself self-published.
Self-doubt is the curse of every writer – ours is a subjective trade – what do you do when a case of the hee bee gee bees attacks?
Mmm… tricky question. I used to talk myself out of doing things. Now I try to do something positive to turn my thinking around.
Aside from writing (and reading!) what other hobbies do you have?
Gardening and walking.
Your favourite book?
Ohhh…. This varies depending on which books I’ve read recently. I don’t think I could pick an absolute favourite but of the books I’ve read in the last six months or so I’d say Martina Reilly’s Even Better Than The Real Thing, Roisin Meaney’s One Summer and Paige Toon’s Pictures of Lily.
Your favourite song?
This varies depending on what my favourite album of the moment is! It would probably be between Ho Hey by The Lumineers, Bedshaped by Keane and One Day Like This by Elbow. Oh, and probably Paradise by Coldplay as well…
Your favourite film?
The Adjustment Bureau with Emily Blunt and Matt Damon. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. It’s a combination of comedy, romance and quirky thriller with a very unusual plot.
Your favourite colour?
A deep purple/pink.
And last but not least, what’s coming next from Zanna Mackenzie?
More books published I hope! A novella prequel to The Love Programme is soon to be published as an ebook by my publisher Astraea Press. I’m doing edits on my book 4 manuscript ready to try that with a publisher and also revamping the first book I ever wrote with a view to trying that with a publisher too. I have my fingers crossed…
Want to find out more about Zanna – here’s the links …
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zanna. mackenzie
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zanna-Mackenzie/e/B00BKY1A18/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
And if you want to buy the book(s) – here’s the links for that too …
Main buy links for book:
*Crooked Cat Publishing