Today my guest is urban fantasy author J.C. McKenzie. J.C. is a fellow The Wild Rose Press author who had me on her blog back in May. I'm happy to welcome her here.
Welcome, J.C. Please tell us about yourself.
Born and raised on the West Coast of Canada, I have a profound love for the ocean and nature. You’ll find both woven into my stories, along with splashes of humour. As a biologist by trade, I’ve worked for a marine research company and a dairy export division, but my passion for teaching shone through and I ended up in the same profession as my mom, dad and sister. I write under a pen name to keep my professional life separate form my writing one.
Where can readers find you?
We moved away from the coast at the beginning of the year to one of the prairie provinces for my husband’s job. Before, my answer would’ve been: at work, at a coffee shop, at home with my family or playing volleyball (either indoor or outdoor). Now, my answer has drastically changed. I live in a town of 800 and the closest coffee shop is in a small town across the border about 45 minutes away! The nearest Starbucks is 2 hours away and I spent a small portion of time lamenting that I’ll lose my gold card status. So now, I can be found mostly at home, enjoying the wide open spaces, and the living sky with its 360˚ view.
Online, I can be found almost everywhere.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/j.c.mckenzie.author
Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/JC_McKenzie
What’s your favorite movie?
Willow. It’s the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre (I grew up in a small town of 500 on a remote island off the west coast). The world created stuck with me and fantasy became a deep love ingrained within me. I gravitate toward everything fantasy, and that’s reflected in my own writing.
Have you ever stayed up all night to finish reading a book?
I used to do this all the time! My husband’s actually ripped my Kindle out of my hands to make me eat before I went back to finishing a book. I’d often spend a whole weekend devouring a series.
Now that I have a toddler, though, I no longer read through day and night. One, he’d never let me! Two, if he didn’t grab at my book every two seconds or spit juice at it, he’d find some way to hurt himself if I got that engrossed in a story with him around; and three, if I stayed up all night reading a book, he’ll still wake up at 6:30!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve completed 7 stories, including short stories and flash fiction. I’m not counting any of my earlier work that remains unfinished somewhere on my hard drive.
Shift Happens and Beast Coast are both full-length books contracted with the Wild Rose Press, and I hope to add the third book of the Carus Series to that list very soon. In a way, Shift Happens is my favorite book, merely because it’s the first of my work to get contracted and published, but if I had to say which storyline I liked better, I’d say Beast Coast, and as my second published book, I feel I wrote it better, as I’m constantly trying to improve my craft.
My short paranormal romance story, The Shucker’s Booktique, is also a favorite because I love the element of water, and the ocean plays a big role in this story. I also wrote this one in third person and really liked including the hero’s point of view.
My flash fiction pieces are just straight up fun! I like the challenge of telling a story in 500 words or less, and the two that I’ve put out into the writing world have done well, but are not traditionally published and probably never will be.
But the story that will always stick to my heart, is the one that will likely never be told. The first manuscript that I ever completed, the one that makes me cringe when I read the prose, the one that got ripped apart in my first writing group, the one that’s a complete mess, is probably one of my favorites, too, because it was the first step toward achieving my dream to be a published author. It showed me that I could do this! I could write an 80k+ story with a plot and characters and chapters. I still love that manuscript, and probably always will.
I guess my stories are like children. You love each one just as much, but in different ways or for different reasons. It’s hard to pick a favorite.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good characterization with a dash of humour. I think more than one person has written about the finite number of plots that exist in the world, and if everyone follows the Michael Haughes Structure, most books will have a fairly consistent plot arch. This mountain hill is ingrained in us at the high school level. It’s hard to create something truly original and for the authors that do, and do it well, I applaud them. Where I try to make my stories original or captivating is with the characters and their interactions. I hope my worlds are intriguing and love that I set the Carus Chronicles in Vancouver.
What do you enjoy most about life?
My husband and son and the love I have for them.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
With the first scene! Which is funny, because it usually gets cut and hacked to bits. But I get an idea and start writing right away. After the first couple of scenes, I have an idea where the story is going and I’ll then plot out the rest of the book to make sure I hit the important events at the right time.
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
I’ve worked in many restaurants, bars and pubs as a waitress, hostess and bartender. I’ve also worked on commercial fishing boats for a marine research company, as a dairy export certifier for the New Zealand government, and as a teacher. All these jobs have interesting aspects to them that I could definitely use the jobs in future books. I’ve stayed away from them so far, because they’re too close to home and I don’t want to write a character who is me reincarnated.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
Currently, only one of my books is out! So, I’d suggest readers start with Shift Happens.
When my other two stories come out, I’d suggest readers start with my paranormal short story, The Shucker’s Booktique, because it’s short, and sweet, and provides a nice sample of my writing style.
SHE NEEDS TO CLEAR HER NAME. HE NEEDS TO CHAPERONE. CAN THEY KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL?
Andrea McNeilly's job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire's human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can't afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.
Wick's job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.
Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.
A large black wolf trotted into the clearing to confront me. He had a white-tipped snout, white boots and mitts and would have looked cute had he not been the most intimidating Werewolf I’d ever seen. Standing tall and solid, power rolled off of his body. His eyes bore into mine. I sniffed the air. The strong Werewolf scent of rosemary swirled around me, strong and seductive, laced with sugar. A weird fuzzy sensation spread out from my chest. Whoa.
My other form growled low, demanding release, straining against my skin. The energy of the wolves built—layers upon layers of excitement and impatience. The air pulsated with anticipation. They could sense the imminent kill.
Let me out! My other form repeated, throwing her power against my built up walls, howling in defiance.
When the energy of the Werewolves surged, I finally released her. My wolf form flowed out fast, wiping out the feline in little more than a heartbeat. Smaller, weaker and the size of a natural wolf, a Shifter in this form was no match for a Werewolf, especially a dominant one. I had time to meet the eyes of the Alpha for only an instant before the pack leapt forward. My limbs shook. It went against every instinct ingrained within me, but I rolled onto my back—submissive.
Available in print and all other electronic formats on July 16th, 2014
Thanks for being here, J.C., and for sharing you book with us.