About author, Zanna Mackenzie: Zanna Mackenzie lives in the East Midlands in the UK 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!
Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
How would you describe your writing style? Mostly light hearted; comedy and romance in a modern style.
People would be surprised to know that you…: Ooohhh… I don’t know! Erm, let me think. How about, that I’m a meteorology geek! I’ve always been fascinated by weather and weather forecasting. When I was about ten I had a proper Stevenson screen (a white box to house equipment and keep direct sun off it) and took detailed temperature, humidity, rainfall, barometric readings every day. These days I have an electronic mini weather station in the garden which automatically transmits temperature (current, plus max and min) humidity, air pressure etc to a small display device in the kitchen. It’s brill!
Writing makes you feel…: Complete. I feel that it’s what I’m meant to do. If my day job keeps me away from writing for too long I get fidgety and desperate to get back to my current writing project.
What is your most prized possession? Books. Lots of them! Oh, and a very tatty teddy bear that I was given when I was born by my parents. He’s very much worse for wear these days but then he is getting on a bit in bear years!!
Walk us through your writing process? An idea out of nowhere, develop the plot outline, create characters with detailed bios, work more on the plot, filling in the details, ensuring that there is always something happening in the story, lots of plot points. Type up scene outlines in correct order, then start filling in the gaps. Ideas for scenes and dialogue pop into my head at all times of the day and night so I always have a notebook to hand, jot the details down, then type them up when I get chance. I would say most of my ‘creative’ writing goes on in my head all the time, rather than saying it is when I sit in front of a computer and do that side of things. If I’m on the computer then mostly I’m typing up stuff from my notebook rather than actually ‘writing’. After the first full draft of the book, the editing begins and goes on and on and on!
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I would say paperbacks. I do have Kindle on my PC but I don’t have a proper portable Kindle, I’m still resisting that at the moment. I’m a bit of a traditionalist I guess and still prefer a ‘proper real’ book where possible rather than a virtual one.
Are any of your characters based upon people you know? No. They just evolve in my head. I have an idea of the type of person I want for my book, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and this shapes them the most. Then I choose a zodiac/star sign which suits them (for this I always use a great book written specially for writers creating characters and wanting personality info for star signs) and this shapes them a bit more. Then I ‘interview’ the characters about their car, home, clothes, family, education etc and eventually end up with a full bio for each character – it’s great fun!
What are you reading right now? Two books. An old book by Christina Jones called Stealing The Show, and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen by Paul Torday. I recently saw the film of this book and loved it so I thought I’d now read the book.
Who or what inspires you? I don’t know! Ideas just hit me out of everywhere and nowhere!
How has the social media helped your career? I confess I’m not a big social media person so I only got into all that side of things for my writing. Since I got my two publishing deals though I have found Facebook to be invaluable. I’m in several closed author groups and everyone helps each other out with promotions on blogs, advice, plot feedback, support and encouragement. It’s been great.
If you could say something to your favorite author what would it be? I love your books!
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I number my books as it is then easier for me to keep track, so my current works in progress (WIP) are books 4 and 5. Book 4 is written and is now at editing stage. It’s a contemporary romance set in Derbyshire’s Peak District and centres on the inhabitants of a village which is a mecca for extreme sports enthusiasts. The main characters are Faith who owns and runs a coffee shop in the village, and Zane who co-owns an outdoor sports centre with business partner Matt. It’s about the complex and developing relationships for each of them. Book 5 has a scene outline of about 40,000 words in place and I now need to go back through it and ‘fill in the gaps’ adding in the detail. It is set in Scotland and London and is about the negative side of fame and how it impacts on relationships.
**Blurb of “How Do You Spell Love”:
Make A Wish…
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…
Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen.
Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.
Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.
Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.
Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’
Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. It was shaping up to be one of those days.
Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.
Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.
A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”
“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.
“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”
The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”
Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.