Bookitcon Chapter 2: Interview With Mackenzi Lee

Friday, August 5, 2016

Super excited to have Mackenzi Lee on my blog for an interview!! She's the author of This Monstrous Thing and two upcoming novels, The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue, and Semper Augustus.

She's one of the authors who will be attending Bookitcon Chapter 2 and I'm here to tell you all about it...

   Bookitcon was created by the blogger, Nori, from ReadWriteLove28 who I really look up!!

   It's taking place this Sunday in Moorestown, New Jersey, and there will be 29 authors attending the event. YA panels, author signings and even an after party. It sounds so exciting so you should go check it out if you're nearby or live in New Jersey!!

   Taken from the Bookitcon site:

   "Bookitcon: Chapter Two will include author signings, meet-and-greets, YA panels, and an after party! There also will be a book drive concurrent to the event. The majority of the profits from ticket sales will be used to revitalize a library in a low-income school in Camden County, New Jersey. Books donated at the event may also be distributed throughout the area, wherever books are needed!"

   Click here to check out the site for more information and if you're interested in purchasing tickets.

This Monstrous Thing

Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Steampunk
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

The Gentleman's Guide To Vice And Virtue... I'm very ecstatic for this!! Italy, pirates, and kissing boys!! What's not to love? It's coming out June 2017 from HarperCollins.

   Mackenzi also has another upcoming novel called Semper Augustus...


A novel about first love, gender identity, and con artists set during the 1637 tulip mania in the Netherlands. 

1. Describe your upcoming novel, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue as if you were in an elevator and only had several seconds to talk to someone. 
Ahhhh just a few seconds!? Okay, well ItsaboutaboynamedMontywhogoesonhisgrandtourofeighteenthcenturyeuropewithhisbestfriendPercywhoheissortofinlovewithandalsohislittlesisterFelicitywhoistheworstbutthentheirtourgetsinteruptedbecuasetheyendupwithamysteirousmagicthingandthentherearepeoplewhowanttokillthemforthatmagicthingsothensuddenlytheyreontherunandtherearepiratesandhighwaymenandajailbreakandapartyatVersaillesandalsosomestreakingandkissing.
Or maybe I would just tell them it’s about boys on their Grand Tour of eighteenth century Europe, making trouble and making out.

2. What are some of your favorite novels of all time? 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and One Day by David Nicholls are the three “read this or we can’t be friends” books in my life.

3. How different was your writing process like when you wrote This Monstrous Thing vs. writing The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue?

Super different! I wrote This Monstrous Thing as part of my thesis for my MFA program, while TGGTVAV started as a project I was writing just for myself. My rules when I was drafting it were nothing was too ridiculous. The main characters are also SUPER different—they’re both boys with low self esteem, but Alasdair has almost no sense of humor while Monty is mostly sense of humor, so developing their voices and how they interacted with their world was wildly different. They also came to be in very different ways—TMT came from wanting to write a Frankenstein reimagining, but TGGTVAV was more born from a fascination with a particular historical phenomenon.

4. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 

In terms of historical factoids—since those are the most surprising things I learn while creating my books—I learned that when Percy Shelley died, he had a disease that caused his heart to calcify so when they burned his body, his heart didn’t burn. Which is something straight out of a Gothic novel. His heart was given to Mary Shelley and she kept it in her drawer, wrapped in his poetry, for the rest of her life.

5. What kinds of things did you have to research for This Monstrous Thing vs The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue? 

SO MUCH! I read a lot of historical fiction set in the time periods I was writing about, I read a lot of nonfiction books about the time period, a lot of primary sources from the time period (like Mary Shelley’s journals from Geneva and the record of James Boswell, a tourist from the 1700s). I also have been lucky that I got to do a lot of traveling, and visit the places I was writing about. I went to Geneva and Bavaria while researching TMT (and got to see all the Christmas markets!) and Paris, Barcelona, Venice, and Santorini, which are a few of the places they go in GGTVAV.

And, of course, the most random sorts of practical research, like building mechanical limbs, learning to play whist, firing muskets, and drinking spiced wine.

6. What do you think makes a good story? 

I think it’s less about the story and more about the characters that inhabit it that make a story good. I could read about someone shopping for vegetables if that person were interesting, empathetic, compelling, sympathetic, and relatable.

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction for children and teens has appeared in Inaccurate Realities, The Friend, and The Newport Review.  Her young adult historical fantasy novel, THIS MONSTROUS THING, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, as well as an Emerging Artist Grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, is out now from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. Her second book, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, will be released in 2017.

She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home.

Find her at:

Authors Martina Boone, Julie Eshbaugh, and Jodi Meadows will also be attending...

Who's going to be attending Bookitcon this year? Have you read This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi?

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