Thank you so much to author, C.A. MacKenzie, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK is my first novel. I’ve written numerous—hundreds—of short stories and poems, some of which I’ve self-published. I had never planned to write a novel. WOLVES DON’T KNOCK came about by accident. It started off as a short story for a Christian Christmas anthology, which was published in 2012. Then, the following year, the same publisher, Dancing With Bear Publishing, put out a call for a second anthology. I had an “aha” moment and wrote a Part Two. This also was published. Both stories left the endings to the readers’ imaginations, so after another “aha” moment, I expanded the two stories into a novella. To make a long story short: the novella evolved into a novel, first around 60,000 words, then about 80,000, then almost 104,000, at which point I was done! And wow, was I elated to have produced a novel, even if it took me over six years! Of course, I didn’t spend an entire six years on it. After my son died in 2017, I didn’t touch it for a year, and there were other long periods of inactivity.
2. Can you tell me about the book?
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK starts off with Miranda, at sixteen, being kidnapped. She’s recently given birth to her son, Kevin, and she leaves the maternity hospital to take a walk. While outside, she’s kidnapped and held captive for six years. Part One, basically one chapter, is about the kidnapping and the six-year captivity. The rest of the book deals with her readjustment home. Her mother, in her absence, has taken care of Kevin. But don’t think this is a boring book. The kidnapper is still on the loose, so Miranda and her mother, Sharon, are constantly looking over their shoulders. Both Miranda and Sharon have secrets, and there are many twists and turns. The book, though a psychological drama, also has elements of thriller, mystery, romance, and family relationships. Despite the plot, there are no graphic sex scenes.
3. What is your writing process like?
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK was difficult to finish, simply because I hadn’t planned on writing a novel. As I said before, it evolved from two short stories. I added sections to it over several years, so at the end it was a hodge-podge. It took me forever to organize everything into a coherent story and ensure consistency. When I finally finished, I said I’d never again write another novel the way I’d written that one. “Never say never,” right? Now, I’m half-way into MISTER WOLFE, the sequel to WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, and I fear I’m in the same predicament.
Unless I’m going out or have other pressing matters, I’m on my computer daily. After getting up and showering, I pour a glass of Diet Coke, with a ton of ice, and head to my computer. That’s where I sit until about four o’clock when it’s wine time!
4. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
No. Totally fiction. I will admit, though, that certain opinions of Miranda and Sharon mirror my own, but I’ll never reveal which ones. A couple of Miranda’s scenes came from my experiences, too. No—I’ve never been raped (thank goodness) and never had a child out of wedlock.
5. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
I don’t want to give anything away. I like to think that Miranda lived “happily ever after.” MISTER WOLFE tells the story of Paul Wolfe, Miranda’s kidnapper. You will have to read that book to find out what happens to him. Well, actually, you know what happens to Paul in WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. But if you want to know what made him tick, read MISTER WOLFE. There will be numerous surprises! (Publication date was to be June 2019, but I think now it’s more realistic to say the fall of 2019.)
6. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. It’s a hobby though I pretty well work at it full-time, but it’s not a money-maker. I’d starve if I had to rely on book sales, which is sad, as a lot of authors are in the same boat, with great stories.
7. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Falling into scammy sites that for “x” amount of money will publish your book. A rule for writers: publishers pay the writer; the writer does not pay the publisher. Unless, of course, you want to self-publish and hire editors, cover creators, formatters. I publish other authors under my imprint, MacKenzie Publishing, and I charge for editing, formatting, and covers, but the writer is in charge of his/her book. I do not take a share of royalties.
8. What is your writing Kryptonite?
I have no idea what this even means!
9. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what I want. What comes naturally to me.
10. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK was to have been my only novel, so it is a stand-alone book. MISTER WOLFE could be considered the sequel, but it’ll be a stand-alone, too. A reader can read both books or either one and, hopefully, enjoy both. There may be unanswered questions in each book, but sometimes it’s best to leave something to the reader’s imagination.
11. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’m working on my second novel, MISTER WOLFE. I’m also working on a memoir of my son’s last few months and the aftermath. He died in March 2017 of a rare heart cancer, two months from diagnosis to death. I have to fine-tune it, but the majority of it is done, and hopefully it’ll be published this year. I’ve written a poem on the 11th of each month, memorializing his death, and I may publish a book containing those poems, too, instead of adding them into the memoir.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do a bit of research, but I don’t write historical stories, so I don’t need to do much. But sometimes research is necessary. I’m doing research now on MISTER WOLFE. I can’t say what that is, as I don’t want to give anything away. Originally, I didn’t think I’d find the info online, but WOW…there it was! Google is amazing!
13. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
I’ve always written. I wrote a lot of poems and stories while in school. Then I married and had kids, and life took over. When my first two grandchildren (both girls born three weeks apart) were born in 2007, I was inspired to write poetry. By the time 2010 arrived, I was writing constantly.
14. How many hours a day do you write?
Every day. At least four hours, I’d say. Sometimes eight or more.
15. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Mostly older people and younger children.
16. What did you edit out of this book?
The crap! And probably more could have been deleted from WOLVES DON’T KNOCK.
17. How do you select the names of your characters?
They just come to me. And I’ve always been happy with my selections.
18. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’d paint. I was heavily into pastels until writing took over. I should get back into painting as my husband says my painting is better than my writing. Then again, he hasn’t read much of what I’ve written. Easier to glance at something rather than spend hours with words.
19. What was your hardest scene to write?
I didn’t find any scenes hard, to be honest. But that’s not to say they were all easy, either.
20. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK took over six years, but then again, I hadn’t planned on a novel and worked on it sporadically. MISTER WOLFE, I pray, will be published by the fall of 2019, and if that happens, it’ll have been about a year in the making, which is pretty fast. Most of the book is in my head; it’s just a matter of being “inspired” to get it out. And now, suddenly, I’m inspired and it’s flowing wonderfully!
21. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes! That’s my biggest downfall. Maybe it shouldn’t be called “writers’ block” but having one’s butt kicked or getting inspired enough to do it.
22. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Computer, for sure. But, occasionally, if I’m lounging by the pool, I may have pen and paper with me, and I’ll do a bit of writing. Words come out differently on paper versus a computer. It takes longer to write longhand than to type, so thoughts can develop a bit more when writing longhand.
23. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
After the birth of my granddaughters in 2007. I became so inspired that I had to keep on going. I wish I had started earlier. I wasted a lot of years doing “nothing” when I could have been writing.
24. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
If you have nothing in your head, it’s difficult.
25. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
No. I do as much as I can. But I feel I should have a set goal.
26. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I’m a panster not a plotter.
27. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
I don’t read as much as I should. Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favourites.
28. What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
To hold the reader’s interest. To have correct grammar and spelling.
29. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
30. How much of yourself do you put into your books?
A subtle amount.
31. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
To family members.
32. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
33. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
34. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
I don’t believe so.
35. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
I sent WOLVES DON’T KNOCK to a couple of publishers and never heard back. It was accepted by one publisher, but I reneged on the deal after signing the contract. Thankfully, I was let out of the contract. I’ll never know if I did the right thing or not, but I’m happy having total control.
36. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
Four of us, the original members of The Spot Writers, co-authored a novella years back. The group is still in existence, but with only two original members. We take turns coming up with monthly prompts, writing to those prompts, and publishing to our blogs every Thursday.
37. Is writing book series more challenging?
I’m only on my second novel, which could or could not be considered a sequel, so I don’t really know. But I suppose it would be as the writer would have to ensure consistency throughout all the books.
38. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
Yes, of course.
39. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?
40. Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m working on MISTER WOLFE. It’s a stand-alone novel but could be considered a sequel to WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. It’s the story of Paul Wolfe, the kidnapper in WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. A reader of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK will find surprises in MR. WOLFE and, I hope, will be shocked. I’m hoping it’ll be published this year (fall 2019).
41. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?
42. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
My mother, who died in 2016, was amazed at all I’d written. WOLVES DON’T KNOCK was published after her death. My father died before I took up serious writing. They were both avid readers in their later years but never pushed reading on us while growing up. I read constantly through school.
43. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
I do. Sometimes he’s interested; sometimes he isn’t. Once in a while, I might share an idea, and he sometimes amazes me with his input.
44. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
45. How can readers find out more info about you and your books?
My website: www.writingwicket.wordpress.com
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK for sale: https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387
My Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-A.-MacKenzie/e/B006HSUD9W
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WolvesDontKnock/
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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