It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an aspiring author who interviews her writing heroes, must fangirl over said heroes.
One of my dreams as a young girl was to become a makeup artist (true story). I eventually traded that dream for another one, but the fascination of transforming someone’s body through art remained with me. So when I first stumbled upon McKenzie’s Instagram, I immediately became a huge fan of her makeup artistry. Fast forward a couple of years, and now I am also a huge fan of her writing (and fashion style).
Mckenzie’s debut novel, A Daughter of the Trolls, was released two days ago, and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive in the mail so I can continue reading after the first sample chapter. Her dream of becoming an author started when she was young, but it wasn’t until her diagnosis of an untreatable chronic illness that the dark fairytale story of Sparrow was born.
I love that Mckenzie created a story through such a personal lens. It somehow makes it all the more special and captivating. Check out the gorgeous cover and fun blurb:
Eighteen-year-old Sparrow can’t remember a time when she wasn’t. And neither can her mother—or the trolls, imps, gnomes, and faeries who all live in the Glade and call it home. Though Sparrow’s weak heart keeps her wheelchair bound, she and her mother have dedicated their lives to protecting the Glade, especially from the worst bogeyman of them all: the skin-stealing, poison-ingesting witch called Black Annis.
But one night, Sparrow makes a terrible mistake, and everything she once held dear is taken from her. The Glade is no longer a sanctuary, and the only way Sparrow can save her mother and her friends is to journey out into a monster-ridden world that wasn’t made for her or her wheelchair. Joined by her half-goblin friend, Rush, Sparrow will have to confront her fears before the ones they love are lost forever.
Doesn’t the story sound incredible? The fact that it has a flare of European folklore, Brothers Grimm style, only makes it all the more appealing (you know how much I love the Grimm Brothers). I really can’t wait to get to know Sparrow and join her adventures. And I am absolutely thrilled that Mckenzie allowed me to spotlight her on my blog this month. So, let’s jump right into that, shall we?
Why do you write?
Having starting my writing career in 2020 and writing three and a half books, I think I first started out wanting to tell an important story. Once I became disabled I realized there isn’t enough representation in the fantasy genre and I wanted to change that. I also wanted to break a stigma that I face everyday, not everyone who uses a wheelchair is paralyzed. Both me and my main character Sparrow use a wheelchair 24/7 but our legs can move! Having an “able body” but being in a wheelchair from chronic illness comes with a lot of pain and frustration, I wanted to show that in a creative way and educate others, but also help people like me feel seen.
However, sometimes I’ll admit I write out of anxiety. I would be lying if I only told you a meaningful tale of whimsy and outspokenness and didn’t tell you about the hard part about being a full time author with mental health issues. My anxiety and depression sometimes fuels my work because if I stop I’ll have nothing else to do and I can’t be without a purpose. Not to mention, I’m afraid of unfinished work. At the end of the day though, I love what I do and I write because I have stories to spin with little cleverly hidden easter eggs with deep means that will transport peoples hearts and minds into a new place.
What/who inspires you in life (not in your writing, but in general)?
I think art is my biggest inspiration, whether that be physical paintings, folklore books, indie music or movies like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. I was an artist before I became on author and I’ve found my mediums in creative makeup and other crafty things. But I think it’s other peoples creations from the past that have the biggest impact on me. I’ve found magic in heartbreaking poems by Pablo Neruda and within the swirls of Van Gogh’s post-impressionistic style that have given me ideas for future books and have helped conjure up this very special feeling that sets my imagination on fire.
What are some of your favorite things?
Dark gloomy days, the ones preferably with rain. The color of a deep dark green so rich you can smell the forest. Baked good scented candles that fill up my whole house. Making a cup of coffee with the perfect amount of vegan creamer and cashew milk the first time without having to add an extra splash or two. When all of the little spoons in my kitchen drawer are clean. That roaring sound that’s sort of akin to silence when your head is all the way under the shower head and it’s nothing but the rushing water and scalding warmth.
What would your perfect day look like and how is it different from your actual everyday?
This is going to sound terribly sad, but maybe a day where I wake up actually feeling refreshed. I would be able to stand up and stretch, my spine would pop all the way up to my neck, and I could walk into my living room to see it raining outside my slider door. It would probably be fall or winter and I’d have a big cozy sweater and baggy sweatpants. I’d feel excited to make my coffee and sit down to write allllll day long and it wouldn’t be hard, I wouldn’t be stumped once. I’d most likely enjoy a dinner of a giant plate of hash browns and when night came I’d fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Being permanently in a wheelchair with many health issues makes my days looks very different. I have chronic pain, fatigue, and consequently insomnia, and when I wake up I transfer into my wheelchair. Also, living in Arizona means most of my days are way too hot and way too sunny to my liking. However, I do get to wear sweatpants all day and I’m an adult so I can have hash browns whenever I want and no one can stop me!
If you could invite a group of writers (dead or alive) to a tea party, who would they be?
Definitely Erin Morgenstern, Holly Black, S. Jae Jones, V. E. Schwab, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen!
Weren’t those such a treat to read? I couldn’t agree more about rainy days, and I think I’ll have to find a way to sneak into that tea party if it ever happens! I was able to ask Mckenzie two bonus questions for my VIP Circle: What was the hardest part of writing A Daughter of the Trolls, and her top advice for young writers. So, don’t miss out on reading those. Sign up for my VIP Circle here.
In addition to this fantastic spotlight, and to celebrate Mckenzie’s release of A Daughter of the Trolls (which you can purchase here, or here), this month’s giveaway has all kinds of fun swag and goodies. It will run until April 30th (U.S. only), and includes the following items:
- Three Daughter of the Trolls postcards.
- A Daughter of the Trolls inspired mushroom necklace (pendant & chain).
- Two Daughter of the Trolls bookmarks.
- A white ball-point pen with flower herbarium casing (+ refill ink).
- Mckenzie’s very own handmade heart earrings.
Did you like this post? Then consider joining my VIP Circle and don’t miss out on all my additional content (monthly messages, inspirational quotes, bookish recommendations, giveaways, and much more!). Click HERE.
And if you want to collaborate with me don’t be shy. I love to work with fellow writers, spotlight authors, and host writing challenges. I’ve also been known to swap short critiques on occasion. Reach to me here.