Interview with mystery writer C. Lee McKenzie

Today is the eighth
interview in a series with the authors of
Tock: A Stitch in Crime
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

the anthology:
clock is ticking…
Can a dead child’s
cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48
minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city
ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing
gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of
time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark
corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner,
Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser,
J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary
Hand-picked by a panel of
agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into
jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time
is wasting…
“Each story is fast paced,
grabbing the reader from the beginning.”
– Readers’ Favorite, 5 stars
Founded by author Alex J.
Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and
authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly
blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly
So far, we’ve had C.D. Gallant-King (on
April 19), Gwen Gardner (on
April 26), Jemi Fraser (on
May 2),
(on May 11), Rebecca
M. Douglass
(on May 15),
(May 23), J.R.
(on May 31), and now C. Lee McKenzie is
here to chat about her crime thriller short story called “Heartless.”

Welcome, Lee. Please tell
us a little bit about yourself.
I have a background in Linguistics and
Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days I write for young readers. Some
Very Messy Medieval Magick
is the third book in the time-travel adventures
of Pete and Weasel, with Alligators Overhead and The Great Timelock
being the first two. Sign of the Green Dragon, another
book for young readers, jumps into ancient Chinese dragon myths and a quest for
My young adult work is represented by
Italia Gandolfo. I’ve published four young adult novels: Sliding on the
Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, and Sudden Secrets.
I’m not writing I’m hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot
questions about things I still don’t understand.
do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
short. Seriously. After putting together 70K words and wrestling all those
threads into a pattern that makes a good tale, I love the focus that the short
story gives. Of course, that doesn’t make them easy to write, just a different
Can you give us a little
insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
loved writing Premeditated Cat (2011) and Matilijas (2018) and
now Heartless. These are as different as any three stories can be. The
first is about a teen escaping from a brute of a step-father. She applies her
art talent that brings things to life and ends her oppressive situation at
home. With Matilijas, I went a bit literary and into a grieving woman’s
soul. Heartless let me expose my darker side with a touch of horror. I
set this one during the great Chicago fire of the nineteenth century because I
wanted a larger horror to loom over characters while they were up against the
ticking clock to save a life.
genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
mostly write what the book business markets as Young Adult. Most of my readers
are in their twenties, and I have some in their sixties, so the term “Young
Adult” is quite broad. I like to write in this fiction category because it’s a
time of life when there are so many choices, and it’s a time of life when
there’s the greatest potential for the choices we make to impact the rest of
our lives.
exciting story are you working on next?
now, I’d say this thing I have under construction is far from exciting.
It’s at the stage of “What was I thinking?” However, if I ever sort out the
mystery of what to do next, this will be a Young Adult story about treating
people badly because they’re different from us. I’m couching it in a ghostly
fantasy, something I haven’t really tried in YA.
did you first consider yourself a writer?
still thinking about that. I’ve always loved to write, and it seemed like a
logical extension of loving to read—the other side of the coin I guess you
could say. I’m looking ahead now to when I can consider myself a good writer.
How do you research
markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
used to go to bookstores and look at the shelves. Since most of our bookstores
are gone (insert a great lament here) Now I look at what’s being checked out at
the library or what’s being reviewed well on Amazon. If you can’t attend
conferences, there are blogs that feature agents and editors. Those are great
resources for writers to find out what people are interested in managing and
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
often write with my eyes closed. I learned two things by doing that: 1) I see
the story so much better that way and 2) I should always make sure to have my
fingers on the right keys before starting typing.
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
archeologist. I went around for years digging up stuff. I was actually fairly
“successful” at discovering small artifacts people left behind. My mother
didn’t apply the term successful, but she let me keep a lot of what I found. I
called them buried treasures. The discovery of Troy and King Tut’s tomb had a
powerful impact on me.
additional you want to share with the readers?
for reading to The End. I hope you read and enjoy the collection of stories in Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime. I’ve read
all of them and they are quite good. I’m not just saying that because I have a place
in the anthology. I’m very proud to be included among such strong writers.
Thanks for joining me
today, Lee.

Tick Tock links:

Purchase links:

6 thoughts on “Interview with mystery writer C. Lee McKenzie

  1. Gwen Gardner says:

    What an awesome mom to let you keep most of your finds! LOL. I've always found archaeology so interesting.I'm pretty patient, but once the summer heat hit I'd fold 😉

    Thanks for hosting, Lisa!

  2. cleemckenzie says:

    Thanks, Lisa. It was great to be featured on your blog. Tick Tock A Stitch in Crime has been an exciting anthology to be a part of.

    Hi Gwen! Mom was tolerant in that area. I think she knew it was a passing phase. 🙂

  3. Mary Aalgaard says:

    Great interview. I'm imagining you with your eyes shut and fingers poised over the keys! Great way to visualize your story. I am also honored and thrilled to be included in an anthology with so many fantastic writers!

  4. Rebecca M. Douglass says:

    Great interview! Good advice about positioning the fingers correctly before you type.

    I let my boys collect bones. We still have a box of them on the shelf in their room. It's important for parents not to be squeamish 🙂

  5. Jemi Fraser says:

    LOL – moms are awesome! 🙂
    Lee is a fabulous writer (I ADORE Pete & Weasel and their adventures!) and Heartless is a great story!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I hope my comment posts. Computer problems, the fan on my laptop died. So trying to go anonymous here since this isn't my computer. Loved the interview, Lee! Thanks again, Lisa, for hosting us! This is Renee, by the way. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *