Zanna Mackenzie lives on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of
books waiting to be read.
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!
If You Only Knew is Zanna’s third
novel; her previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013.
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zanna-Mackenzie/e/B00BKY1A18/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Find out more about Zanna on her blog www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk, on Twitter via @ZannaMacKenzie or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zanna.mackenzie
Welcome to the hotseat Zanna.
Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?
Girl meets new love then, confusingly, first love comes
back into her life.
What was the inspiration for this book?
As a starting point I’m inspired by locations. I used to be a travel agent and also researched and wrote UK tourism brochures for a while too. I enjoy setting my books in some of my favourite locations in the UK and have written novels set
in the Scottish Highlands, North Yorkshire and now, in my latest book If You Only Knew, the Peak District of Derbyshire.
The fictitious village
in If You Only Knew was inspired by the real village of Castleton in the Peaks. I was fascinated by the area around Castleton with all the caves and hills, it’s a real outdoor and extreme sports mecca, and the book grew from that. Once
I had the ‘where’ in place and the key settings of the coffee shop and extreme sports centre, the characters and ideas just popped into my head. The original outline plot idea and the eventual plot do share some similarities but there were lots
of changes along the way as the book unfolded!
I also discovered the joys of PInterest and set up a mood board for If You Only Knew which contains
pictures of the village, the scenery, how Faith’s coffee shop might look and photos of the famous people who visually inspired the characters of Zane, Faith and Matt.
What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?
I have 4 WIPs but I really need to pick one and just focus on that otherwise I’ll never get my next book written! I think the book I’ll aim to complete next is the one about the down side of dating
a famous actor.
What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?
I love creating the characters for a book. I have the plot outlined and then start to build a detailed bio for each character including how they look, their star sign, age, jobs, where
they grew up, family background, their issues and worries, what they like, what they dislike, their romantic history and much, much more. I probably get far too excited about creating a character than I should!
The worst part of writing for me is trying to be patient – not a natural state for me unfortunately! I have all the ingredients of the book in place and want to
just write the first draft as quickly as possible. I’m always so impatient to get it all down on the page. After the first draft is complete then I manage to calm down a bit and take lots of time on the editing and fine tuning side of things.
Tell us about your travels.
I studied travel and tourism at college and used to be travel agent. I’m still fascinated by travel and love to watch TV programmes about countries where I can learn all about scenery, food, culture, traditions and lifestyle.
Countries I’ve visited? Romania, Sweden, Greece, Italy (Venice was stunning), Austria (loved Salzburg), Portugal, France (Paris), Spain, Greece. A little further afield, instead of a birthday party for my 21st my old school friend Elaine
and I booked a trip to Florida. Elaine was 21 a week before me so she did the same, ditched having a party and asked for money from relatives instead of birthday gifts to fund her trip. We spent two weeks visiting all the theme parks and had an amazing time.
My favourite country? Canada. I spent a couple of weeks travelling around Eastern Canada when I was younger. We visited Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Niagara Falls and Ottawa. Many years later I visited Canada again, this time with my husband. He has relatives
who live in the suburbs of Vancouver so we stayed with them and did all the tourist spots in and around the city plus we packed a rucksack each and caught the ferry over to Vancouver Island and toured around on there. The relatives were kind (and brave!) enough
to lend us a car and we travelled inland to the Okanagan Valley to visit some other relatives too. The scenery is just spectacular.
Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop as you write?
A bit of both. I have an overall idea for the plot and the key characters then
I do a step by step plot point plan to work out what happens at each stage of the book. When I actually start writing though I find that inevitably the characters start getting minds of their own and the plot starts to deviate somewhat!
Have you taken any creative writing courses and would you recommend them?
Yes, I did the Comprehensive Writing course with the Writer’s Bureau – it taught me a huge amount. The course covered nonfiction and fiction writing and it pretty much launched
my writing career - because of the course I got my first articles published in a variety of magazine and my first short story published in Peoples’ Friend magazine. After that I started trying my hand at writing novels and was thrilled when I was offered
contracts from publishers for my books.
What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Every so often I get the urge to re-read a book by one of my favourite authors and I’m doing just that at the moment. I’m reading, for what must be about the fourth time, Jill
Mansell’s Sheer Mischief. I love Jill’s books, they have everything – laughter, romance, great settings, likeable characters, and an intriguing plot.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would they be and why?
The three books I would choose would be:
Roisin Meaney’s One Summer
This is a book by an Irish author set on a beautiful little island off the west coast of Ireland. When I read it I feel as though I’m there with the characters. I can taste the sea air, feel the breeze, the setting is
just superb. The story is quite a page turner too and keeps you guessing right to the end. There’s a sequel out this year and I’m looking forward to dipping back into life on Roone.
Martina Reilly’s Even Better Than The Real Thing
This book is also from an Irish author.
It’s wonderfully written and has an unusual plot involving forged art. It’s a romantic mystery suspense and a gripping read.
Paige Toon’s Pictures of Lily
Set in Australia, the beautifully drawn characters and a classic will-they-won’t-they plot made this a can’t-read-fast-enough
book for me. I did something I never do and ended up skipping to the last page when I was half way through because I was so desperate to know how things ended up. Once I knew the ending I could relax and read and enjoy the rest of the book at leisure rather
than trying to read it faster than humanly possible to see what happened!
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Do not give up. I have become disillusioned and given up on writing several times and my books only got to see the light of day because my husband nagged me to start sending them out
to publishers back in 2012. I sent one book to a publisher in America and another to a UK publisher and told myself to forget about them whilst mentally preparing myself for the rejection emails. Within one month the American publisher came back and said they
loved the book and offered me a contract. I couldn’t believe it, I was stunned. I cried. I danced around the room. One week later an email arrived from the UK publisher about the other book and they offered me a contract too. Cue more crying and dancing
around the room! In Feb 2013 the first book, The Love Programme, was launched, closely followed in March 2013 by the second book, How Do You Spell Love? My third book, If You Only Knew, was launched in Feb 2014, by the same UK publisher who launched my second
Thankyou so much for taking part