I had the pleasure of meeting McKenzie McCann at WordStock in Portland. Fellow Rain Boots Required author Lisa Nowak introduced me to McKenzie and she was such a blast to hang-out with that I want to introduce her to you all and let you know about her debut YA contemporary novel, Perfecting Perfection! McKenzie just received her contract a few days ago! Squeeeee! Follow her journey to publication on her entertaining/awesome blog The Ubiquitous Perspective. Take it away McKenzie!
Me: If you had to choose a color to describe your book, which one would you pick? Why?
McKenzie: That’s a good one. Hmm, I think I would pick a sparkly gray. A major theme in my book is how the glitz and glam of fame is only enjoyable until it stalks you in the streets, so to speak. It’s a bleak trap masquerading as luxury and elitist, but Riley doesn’t completely realize it until we meet our love interest: Giselle.
Me: What was your favorite scene to write from your book?
McKenzie: Oh, all of them! Every scene was fun to write. It was my first book. But if I really had to pick one, I’d say the climax. See, I had a terrible case of the flu when I wrote Perfecting Perfection, and a combination of febrile delirium and excitement made me so engrossed in the story, I felt like a part of it. I felt every emotion I wrote about and could see the scene playing in my head so fast my fingers could barely keep up.
Me: Tell us a about your book? Can you share an excerpt?
McKenzie: Perfecting Perfection, a tale of the lead singer in the acclaimed Remington Heights with a terrible case of infatuation for a normal girl.
This is the scene in which Riley and Giselle meet:
I heard a ding and looked up. That was odd. It was only the ground floor, and I pressed for the fourth. The doors opened. A short girl about my age walked in. Her brown and gently-curled hair hung halfway down her back. I furrowed my brow at her reddish complexion, which thankfully, my sunglasses concealed. We exchanged friendly nods.
She cranked up the volume on her iPod. I could hear my own music filling the elevator. The girl smiled at me mischievously. I found myself wishing that the elevator would plummet to our imminent death. I was always so careful to avoid crazed-fan girls, and now I was trapped in an elevator with one.
“Don‘t worry Riley. I won‘t rape you,” she said.
I jumped. She wasn’t losing it, nor asking if she could use my boxer shorts for her pillowcase. She simply made a pleasant, snide little comment. “Um, thank you.” I lowered my sunglasses, peeping over them.
She smiled. “How was the tour? Playing a show at the Rose Garden this weekend?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Next Saturday at six.” Every muscle remained tense.
“I have tickets.“ She giggled with a cutesy grin. “You are much more masculine in person.” The door opened. She got out. “By the way, my name is Giselle,” she called over her shoulder.
Me: What struggles did you have to overcome to write this book?
McKenzie: A case of the flu, the absolutely horrendous first draft, and the fact I barely knew what I was doing. I wrote it when I was fourteen. That was before I studied grammar in my free time and became one of the two Grammar Bitches in my school. The other one being my lovely best friend, also known as The Maintainer on my blog. I remember reading over the first draft, after recovering from my sickness, and literally having written ‘A cold breeze caresses my mostly nudeness.’ I’m still humiliated to think I ever wrote it. Editing was also a messy process in general. I had no idea how to really do it, had only my other fourteen-year-old friends to edit, and eventually got my teachers to do some. Even so, that was what triggered me to start researching grammar and the do’s and don’t's of writing on my own time. Two years later it’s been accepted by a publisher, so I must have done something right.
Me: Whoa! I’ll say:) I’ll have to catch the flu when I try and write another book:) You had me at Grammar Bitches. I think I like grammar more now. What is one thing you’d like your readers to take away from Perfecting Perfection?
McKenzie: I hope people will understand that every single human on the planet, no matter their wealth, fame, social status, education, or anything else, is still a human being. They still have faults, make mistakes, and have flaws. No one is perfect, and we shouldn’t strive to perfect perfection. It’s okay to be happy with what you have.
Me: That’s beautiful:) What’s the most awkward moment you had [and wouldn't mind sharing] in high school so far?
McKenzie: Okay, this will take a bit of background information. I go to an all-girls school, and we mostly have female teachers. However, on occasion we have male student teachers, and there was this one named Mr. Schmidt in our Digital Art and Media class. He was one of those guys who liked to joke around a lot and, to paraphrase, would make statements like: ‘yeah, I like this, BUT, it’s awful.’ None of us could ever decide if he hated us or liked us. But anyway, I also have this one friend who wears the most ill-fitting pants. It’s almost as if each pant leg is a skirt.
One day, my friend was wearing a pair of especially ill-fitting pants. She stood up from her chair in the computer lab and her pants fell down, right in front of Mr. Schmidt.
Me: OMG! Now way! Yikes, talk about getting caught with your pants down! What is the most fun you ever had?
McKenzie: This past summer when I got to be a counselor in training at a Girl Scout camp I’ve been going to since I was eight. I seriously lucked out with the group. There were only three of us in total, and I was already really close with one of them from previous years at camp. Not to mention one of the counselors I’m closest to ended up being CIT director. CITs are infamous for getting into fights about halfway through the summer, but we never had that. The three of us jelled together perfectly. I had a blast and can’t wait to go back next summer for my CIT 2 year. I’ll get to go for ten weeks.
Me: How fun! There’s nothing like fast friends. OK, on with the next question…You are at a theme park and it’s the last ride of the night: Roller coaster or Tunnel of Love?
Mckenzie: Roller coaster! Sometimes if you get on the water rides the operators will let you go around a few times because no one else wants to get soaked at 11 P.M. My mom and I learned that on our trip to Disney Land a few summers ago.
Me: I love Disneyland. There’s nothing like Splash Mountain at midnight! What are you working on now? Can you share a blurb from your new book?
Mckenzie: Sure. I just started editing my fourth novel called Lesbian Bastard Child. See, I was sick and tired of all these books about bad things that happen to gay teens. They end up getting rejected, getting bullied, or committing suicide because of their sexual orientation. If I was gay and looking for a way to come out, those books would make me want to chain myself inside the closet and cry. I have two moms, and I guarantee you most lesbians live very, very normal lives. I want books like that to exist. My goal was to take lots of elements of alternative lifestyles and show that you can still have a fairly normal life. Nasley’s (MC) parents were never married, she’s a lesbian, she never goes to college, she’s a playwright, she’s a pagan. And guess what? She watches Disney movies as a little girl. She works in a bookstore. She paints. She travels Europe. All somewhat normal things that could happen to anyone. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of craziness too, but how she ends up working in a brothel has nothing to do with her philogyny.
Me: Nice! Way to write from your heart. What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Do you have any incriminating photos from years past that you might share?
Yeah, I should know that by now, right? I may just have to pull out my easy back-up plan which is to carry a sign around saying ‘Nudist on Strike.’ I have yet to do it, but this year might be the year. As for photos, my mother has pictures of us dressed up in matching penguin costumes from last year, but I don’t personally have them.
Thanks for stopping by the blog today McKenzie! Good luck to you. Come back soon and I can’t wait to read you novels:) I told you guys she’s fabulous!