by C. Lee McKenzie
Publication date: July 25th 2014
by Evernight Teen
“My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn’t been laid yet. I couldn’t go into the slammer before that happened.” Hutch McQueen.
Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped in a dysfunctional family. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.
~Interview with C. Lee McKenzie~
Convince us to read your story in 140 words or less, twitter style!
What if you couldn’t read? Worse yet, what if you tried to escape from being trapped and instead became trapped in a worse place?
What inspired you to write Double Negative?
A couple of things, but I was reading about illiteracy and I suddenly asked myself the question, “What if I couldn’t read?” The answer made me ill. I couldn’t imagine a world without access to all the books I love, let alone not being able to follow simple written directions. That was what started me making notes that lead to Double Negative.
Do you have a writing room? What does it look like?
Oh yes, I do. My office is perched on the second story of our house and looks out onto a forest canyon. If you find a lot of trees or canyons in my books, that’s why! As to what the room looks like I guess I’d say it’s as close to being outdoors as I can make it. I have a wall of windows–it’s that tree/canyon thing, you see. I have tons of books and a desk that takes up about nine feet of space. I splurged a few years ago and treated myself to a desk that would accommodate me, my writing, my cat and my almost-outdoor-writing room. I keep pictures on the wall next to my computer of my favorite places, mottos (Never Give Up is one.) and things to do. “Write Great Books” has been there for a while. If I had only three words to describe my writing room they’d be: light, hope, possibility.
I see that you write middle grade as well as young adult novels. How does writing one genre differentiate to the other? Do you prefer to write one more than the other?
They’re very different critters in many ways, yet crafting a story for either one is still the same. You have to create fleshed out characters, have good pacing, write prose that creates images and excitement, so people will enter the story and stay there. The characters are younger in MG than YA and they have different kinds of goals and needs. What that means is the themes are very different. In MG, most kids are still trying to fit into their families or communities. In YA, teens are trying to establish their own identities, separate from their parents. I love to write both because they present different challenges and switching keeps me fresh and on my toes. When I’m writing YA I hang around the teen fringes to hear and watch. When I’m writing MG I get to play with the kids and talk.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve got two MG’s in a queue. A sequel to my book, Alligators Overhead, ready to go. It will continue to follow the adventures of Pete and Weasel, while Pete stirs up trouble and Weasel tries to get him out of it. The second is a sci-fi fun story about visitors from Murrg, a wanna be planet.
This or that:
Coffee or Tea? Coffee unless I have a cold, then it’s green tea.
Vanilla or Chocolate? Chocolate, especially hot fudge on ice cream.
Paperbook or ebook? Euuu. Very hard. I love both, but crave eBooks when I travel.
Morning or night? Morning, hands down.
Cake or pie? Pie. Fresh, hot apple. I’m very Americana when it comes to my pie.
Peeta or Gale? Gale.
~About the Author~
In my other life–the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers–I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.
My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.
I’ve just set out my perfect life. Day after day after day.
C. Lee’s Website | Twitter | Goodreads
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