We’ve got a real treat in store for us today. CC MacKenzie is back! Though I promise she’s not here under duress. No. No, me hearties. Sailing across the pond and capturing heroines only happens in my books. I promise CC hasn’t ventured from England to the tearoom in shackles. See for yourself, loves.
CC MacKenzie is the author of the best selling contemporary romance The Ludlow Hall series, which includes Reckless Nights In Rome, A Stormy Spring and Run Rosie Run. She also writes a sexy paranormal series, The Vampyre Legal Chronicles, since she loves those bloodsuckers too.
So join me in raising the signal flag. Welcome to the tearoom, CC!
CC, you’ve got great fans! When did you know that you were a storyteller?
Since I was fifteen and wrote a descriptive essay in English class and made the teacher cry, in a good way.
Aye, the goal of all teenagers. The muse visited ye at quite a young age, I see. How long have you been writing seriously?
I’ve been writing fiction professionally for five years. But I’ve written ‘How to’ business books for a company.
Non-fiction as well? Ye be a well-propertied woman, lass. What is your writing process? Do you storyboard each book, or the series? Are you a plotter or panster, or a hybrid of both~planster?
For long series I use index cards, one per character with eye, hair colour and height etc. I’ll also include any personal tics or speech rhythm. Since I know the characters very well – I’ve lived with most of them for years – I tend to let them have their head. Having said that I’m in control of where I want them to go but occasionally they’ll surprise me. My books are therefore character driven and in a romance that’s key. I cannot tell you how many times romance writers are knocked back from publishers due to a book being plot rather than character driven. It’s a lesson I learned well.
My characters are driven by dastardly plots too. But there’s always a passionate reason for their antics. But I digress… Is there a particular time of day you like to write or the story flows better?
I write in the middle of the night when the house is quiet or very early in the morning.
Writing by moonlight, hmmm. I hear howling. Or would that be your stomach? What’s your favorite go-to snack for those times when the muse has sucked you into the book and you are hungry as hell and don’t have a cabin boy at your beck and call?
If I’m in full creative flow my H leaves ready prepared food in the fridge along the lines of a chicken breast salad or oven roasted salmon – he’s good at those. I munch on raw carrots. Sugar can be my downfall; once I start I can’t stop, so I don’t start.
H must be short for hero. What a jolly good gent he must be to take such good care of you. ;) Now that we’re beyond envious, tell us about your books. Where do your ideas for The Ludlow Series & Vampyre Legal Chronicles come from?
The Ludlow Hall series was spawned from Reckless Nights In Rome, where the secondary characters (and readers) demanded another book – the rest is history. With The Vampyre Legal Chronicles, these novellas are a prequel to the main futuristic Vampyre novels due out in 2014, which will be called the Untouchable series about incredibly powerful witches. In The Vampyre Legal Chronicles I’m destroying our world before rebuilding it in 2049, so it’s great fun.
My spyglass won’t zero in on that horizon. (Checking lens.) Did you have to do any particular kind of research to develop either of your series?
Yes. Researching the art and craft of top pastry chefs wasn’t hard. It took me on a delicious journey savouring tastes and scents of walnut & coffee mocha sponge with a vanilla cheese cake filling for example and I used it in my book. Hygiene is important in a kitchen. I spoke to chefs who shared their sartorial choices with me. Who knew white rubber clogs were key for comfort? Stainless steel bowls give the best results for meringues. Stainless steel worktops and industrial ovens are key too in their kitchens when they’re catering for four hundred mini muffins given to wedding guests as favours.
The inspiration for this story came from a true tale that had us in stitches by a beautiful friend of my daughter. It’s very true fact that life is stranger than fiction.
The story starts when Bronte is attempting to escape the blind date from hell by climbing out of a restroom window of her old home, Ludlow Hall, which has been turned into a Ferranti Hotel & Spa. It’s January in England and the coldest winter for forty years. She needs to take off her warm jacket to squeeze through the small space. Enter Nico Ferranti who’s arrived to take over the running of the hotel for a month while his General Manager, and Bronte’s brother, is on an extended business trip overseas. Nico spots Bronte as she tosses her designer bag on top of her jacket lying in the snow and he suspects the worst, that she’s a thief, and so the story begins….
In the Ludlow Hall series I used life experiences including bereavement of a loved one and the loss of a baby; an adult discovering their parent is not their biological father etc. It’s important to stick to facts when dealing with domestic abuse for example, where I deal with the emotional impact of abuse and how it affects a woman in books four and six of the series and readers who’ve read Rosie will know who I’m talking about. I deal with cancer too in book five, a twin story. With the Vampyre Legal Chronicles I’ve used precise science for how the earth’s polarity shifting from North to South will affect tectonic plates; birds falling from the sky; mammals and fish beached; volcanic eruptions etc. And I’ve used physics via recent data from the Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which is researching alternate realities. And when a writer introduces magic into the mix, it’s a real thrill.
That’s a lot of work. (Where’s the rum?) You’ve developed a great fan base at ITunes. Why did you decide to self-publish? And is there any advice you can give struggling authors out there thinking about doing the same thing?
Thank you, yes iTunes readers have been phenomenal, and I didn’t even know I had them for a couple of months! I decided to self publish because the business model underwent a sea change three years ago. I’d been submitting work and was asked for detailed revisions of Reckless, which I did. Then I realised that after I’d re-submitted the book it could take anything up to a year to hear anything. After taking advice from successful authors who were ploughing the path of self-publishing I decided I didn’t have the time to wait so after a year of edits and revisions and beta readings I independently published Reckless Nights In Rome. It’s been a steep learning curve. Since then we’ve re-done the covers of the series and learned a huge amount about how the different distributors work. If unknown authors are considering self publishing, I’d advise them to get at least three under their belt and perhaps write a series or link the books (readers love series.) Make sure the work is THE best it can be BEFORE they send it out to readers. Because I was unknown I’ve made Reckless permanently free across all distributors and the success of the book has meant readers have purchased books two and three and are asking for more.
Free? That’s the magic word! (Man the braces!) What’s up next for you? Are there any sequels in store for your readers or are you working on something completely different?
I’m editing books four and working on five and six of The Ludlow Hall series, which might spawn another series or I’ll carry on, we’re mulling over thoughts at the moment. I’ve a stand-alone adventure/romance, which is almost completed, a desert story set in the present day and that needs to be expanded so I’ve copious notebooks filled. My paranormals have taken a bit of a back seat due to the success of the contemporary romances – but that’s how the cookie crumbles. I’ve an Angel series I’d love to dive into, but have contented myself with the outlines, which have expanded. And I have about sixteen outlines of new contemporaries.
Why does the word spawn bring goosebumps to my skin? It doesn’t have anything to do with Davy Jones, does it? (Shiver me timbers!) I’ve simply got to get that image out of my head. The best way to do it is to ask this important question… Captain Jack Sparrow or Will Turner?
Will? Will? What does he have that dandy/randy Jack doesn’t? Perhaps you haven’t had enough rum. Though we are in a tearoom, many have added a dram or two of libation to their brew. (As if you couldn’t tell.) So… if you had a choice, and you do, which would you choose, rum, brandy or port, when the muse refuses to cooperate?
None. Because my muse never refuses to cooperate. If anything I need to keep her quiet.
I must not have heard you right. (Cleaning out ears. Squeak. Squeak.) None? Did you say “none?” We’ll then, you’ll have to tell us what kind of tea you enjoy drinking. That way we can make sure we have plenty on hand in the future for purity’s sake. ;)
Gazing at compass… Goodness, can you believe the time, me hearties? Our interview is over. I’d like to thank CC for joining us in the tearoom today. You see, CC? (Snicker… that rhymes.) I promised there wouldn’t be any deviltry afoot. Fine sailing, as it were, right? I’ll leave the captive damsels and rogue-ish heros for the muse to play with. Until then, may the writing wenches of worldy renown bless you!!!
You can find CC at these links below. Also, don’t forget to hit the link for Reckless Nights in Rome, me hearties!!! I’m reading this book now and can tell you I’m really enjoying Ludlow Hall!