Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and eleventh, is of romance novelist, freelance writer and editor of business publications Zanna Mackenzie. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
She always wanted to do something with writing and at school wanted to be a journalist but soon discovered she wasn’t pushy enough for that job so I ended up working in travel instead. The writing bug crept back in years later though when she started researching and writing holiday brochures, then wrote articles for various magazines, followed by short stories before eventually trying her hand at a full length novel. She has since written four novels (two have been published) and two more are at the editing stage. In addition she is at planning stage with two further novels and has just had a novella published too.
Formerly a travel agent and therapist she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and a novella Back To Square One, all published in 2013.
And now from the author herself:
Joys Of Writing – Doing The Research
One of the (many!) things I love about writing is the chance to immerse myself in another world and research the lives of the characters in my current work in progress novel. One of the books I’m outlining the plot for at the moment involves a family feud which nobody knows the reason for and, for various reasons, one of the characters has to investigate her family’s history. Knowing next to nothing about genealogy I took advantage of a 14-day free trial on one of the websites where you can trace your family history and started to get to grips with Census records dating back to 1841 and birth, marriage and death certificates. After 48 hours of a steep learning curve I had already traced back a few generations on one side of my family tree.
Doing all of the research reminded me how much I love getting into projects like this, creating folders, files, lists of things to follow up on next time I visited the website. I am now the proud owner of a family tree tracing back all ‘branches’ several generations through to, in many cases, great, great, great, great grandparents – with names, dates and places of birth and occupations – and was delighted and fascinated with the results. I also discovered that I’m from ‘farming stock’ on my father’s side – four generations of them, which explained why I so enjoyed writing my first novel which was set in the world of farming in one of my favourite places in the UK, the Lake District.
The same book requiring the genealogy research is partly set in Norfolk in the UK and partly set in Vancouver in Canada. My husband has relatives in Vancouver who we have stayed with and we both fell in love with this stunning city in British Columbia at the time, so it was tremendous fun to go back through all of the old photos we took when we visited – remembering trips to Grouse Mountain, Granville Island, Stanley Park and many other places in and around the city.
The book I have recently completed editing work on is set in Derbyshire’s Peak District and involves an extreme sports centre with people trying out everything from white water rafting to climbing. I admit to doing all the research online for that one though – not being an extreme sports fan myself!
For my other novels I have researched everything from Lairds and the Highlands of Scotland to the hotel industry and historic country houses and their estates and loved every minute of learning all about these ‘other worlds’. One of the more unusual research topics was for my novel How Do You Spell Love which was published earlier this year. For that I learnt all about white witchcraft, crystals, magic, herbs, folklore and traditional celebrations such as the summer festival of Lammas – all very intriguing!
Being a writer affords me the opportunity to learn about lots of exciting stuff in the name of research and I get to mentally escape into some great places as well as the lives of my characters – it’s also brilliant fun.
You can find more about Zanna and her writing via…
- Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/zanna.Mackenzie
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10703273-zanna-mackenzie
- Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zanna-Mackenzie/e/B00BKY1A18
- The Love Programme (Astraea Press), novel available as an eBook from http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Love-Programme-ebook/dp/B00BCL6C8U and http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Programme-ebook/dp/B00BCL6C8U, and as a paperback from http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Love-Programme-Zanna-Mackenzie/dp/1489585397 and http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Programme-Zanna-Mackenzie/dp/1489585397
- How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing), novel available as an eBook from http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-You-Spell-Love-ebook/dp/B00BKOZFAU and http://www.amazon.com/How-You-Spell-Love-ebook/dp/B00BKOZFAU, and a paperback from http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Do-You-Spell-Love/dp/1908910771 and http://www.amazon.com/How-Do-You-Spell-Love/dp/1908910771
- Novella prequel to The Love Programme, Back to Square One, exclusively for sale via the Astraea Press website at: http://www.astraeapress.com/#!/~/product/category=662245&id=27310074
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As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.