Today I am so thrilled to interview Mackenzi Lee, and spotlight her upcoming release, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue!

About the Book

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
June 20th 2017 from Katherine Tegen Books
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When lifelong friends Monty and Percy embark on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe, they stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris’s glittering finery to the haunted, sinking islands of Venice–along the way fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other.

About the Author

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction for children and teens has appeared in Inaccurate Realities, The Friend, and The Newport Review.  Her young adult historical fantasy novel, THIS MONSTROUS THING, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, as well as an Emerging Artist Grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, will be published on September 22, 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home.

The Interview!

Q: Please describe your newest book in 5 words.

Making Trouble And Making Out  Or maybe…. Eighteenth Century Gay European Roadtrip

Q: As a historical fiction writer, what does your research process look like?

Well it mostly looks like me schleping from the library Hermione Granger style with my arms stuffed with books, many of which weigh as much as I do. .

I always start by reading other historical fiction set in the time period, mostly to get a five senses approach to historical time periods (and also to assure myself it can be done!). From there, I try to get an overview of the time period–what was going on in the world politically, culturally, socially, artistically; what concerns and fears and anxieties were defining the time; what are people wearing/eating/listening to/angry about. It’s all pretty clinical, but all of those often help inform my plot.
One of the hardest parts of the process for me is knowing when to stop researching and start writing. You’re always going to find things along the way you have to read up on–I generally do most of my writing with Merriam Webster open in another tab to check the first usage of almost every word I use–but the trap of historical fiction can be never feeling like you’ve done enough research. I always end up starting before I feel like I’m ready.

Q: Tell us a little about THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE. What can readers expect from your upcoming release?

You can expect ships (romantic, and otherwise)
You can expect travel, both on and off the intended schedule, and a lot of me, the writer, prosaically reveling in both the glam and filth in turn of eighteenth century Europe
You can expect a little swash, a bit of buckle. Some highwaymen, a few pirates.
You can expect brief, mild nudity (and our main character desperately wishing there was a lot more nudity, preferably with his best friend also involved).
You can expect girls who run the show, boys who kiss each other, a tiny bit of alchemy and magic.
Basically, you can expect a big tropey adventure novel except not everybody is straight.

Q: Have you learned anything that you’d like to pass on to aspiring writers after the release of your debut novel?

I’ve learned that you’ll never feel like you’ve gotten far enough or that you’re a real writer. As your success level changes, you’re going to adjust, and what was originally amazing and “OMG reached impossible goal!” is going to become ordinary, and so it’s going to stop feeling like enough. I spent so long thinking “If I only get an agent, I’ll feel like a real writer.” Then I acclimated to agented-ness real quick and it became, “If I only get a book deal, I’ll feel like a real writer.” After the first book deal, it was “If I get another deal.” Lately it’s “If I only become a bestseller,” or “If I get a movie deal” or “If I get a starred review” or a million other ridiculous arbitrary ways my brain tricks me into thinking that, if I haven’t achieved, I’m not worth anything. The biggest thing I’ve learned from the publishing process is that you need to take time to appreciate yourself and what you’ve done. I think this is true of any stage in the process. The fact that any book exists is a freaking miracle. Buy yourself a cookie for that.

Q: In addition to your awesome books, you host a weekly series called #BygoneBadassBroads. Where did the inspiration for this project comes from?

Mostly just because I am an enthusiastic historical fangirl and I wanted to share the stories that got me excited so that other people could have their minds blown with me. There are so many amazing women from history we don’t talk about–usually because they colored outside the lines in some way–and I want to play whatever small part I can in making sure their stories get told. I never thought it would catch on the way it has. I remain shocked each week when I start to tweet and I’m not unfollowed en mass.

Thanks to Mackenzi for participating in this interview! After reading her answers above, I hope you are all as excited for THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE as I am! 

shelly sig

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