Thursday, December 10, 2015

Debut Author Bash: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee {Interview}

This Monstrous ThingThis Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee 
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Goodreads Summary: 
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…


Steampunk Frankenstein.
Alternate history Switzerland.
Brothers. Cyborgs.
You’ll love it.

2. What’s your favorite quote from THIS MONTROUST THING?
“It would always be us, dead or alive or alive again, locked like gears so that neither of us could turn without moving the other.”

3. Any writing quirks?
I drink a lot of Diet Coke (always, but especially when I’m writing).
When I’m drafting, I leave myself notes of things to fix or mark holes I need to fill in later, and I mark them with an # so I can do an easy search and replace to find them again. Which means my first drafts are basically littered with snarky hashtags.

4. Was THIS MONSTROUS THING your first title choice?
The book was originally called The Shadow Boys are Breaking, but I think This Monstrous Thing fits so much better! It conveys the Frankenstein, Gothic-ness of the book much more effectively, and I love the ambiguity of what exactly the titular monstrousness is referring to. It wasn’t my first choice, but I’ve come to adore it.

5. If someone were to see you in a random public place where would it be and why?
I work at an independent bookstore, so you have a pretty good chance of spotting me there. Aside from that, I spend a good amount of time at my beloved Friendly Toast, which is a diner in Boston with bright green walls and the best biscuits and gravy of all time ever.  

6. Which YA character would you like to hang out with for a day?
Jacky Faber. She is the sassiest. And great at hijinks. And basically she’s everything I aspire to be.  

7. What is your favorite and least favorite book trope?
I’m a sucker for the scoundrels with a heart of gold archetype. You know, the Han Solo and Malcom Reynolds types. I fall for them every time.
I take issue with the ‘girl dresses up as a boy but the hot guy still falls in love with her’ trope in historicals because it undervalues the contribution of women throughout history who found ways to exercise influence within their gender constraints, and undervalues the power in femininity and womanhood. It can also be an erasure of queer and gender non-conforming people from historical narratives, or make queerness seem like the tragic ending that was avoided because everyone still goes home hetero. Cross dressing wasn’t just a way women could have fun adventures in history—it was the only way some people across the gender and sexuality spectrum could live true to themselves. Even if the author doesn’t intend any of these things, sometimes the trope further erases women and LGBTQ people from historical narratives.  

8. Any song inspirations that helped you write certain scenes?
Large parts of the book were written to the album The Life of the World to Come by The Mountain Goats. The lyrics have a lot of life, death, and resurrection imagery, and every song corresponds with a Bible verse, which is perfect accompaniment for writing a book based on a book based on a book based on the Bible (This Monstrous Thing, Frankenstein, Paradise Lost, in case you lost the thread there).

9. Any characters inspired by real people in your life?
I have a little sister and we have the same age different between us as Alasdair and Oliver, the brothers in the book. While MT and I are definitely not Alasdair and Oliver, a lifetime of being the volatile older half of a tight-knit sibling pair definitely inspired the novel. And my kid sister, MT, and Alasdair have a lot in common—rational, calm, reserved, and with a much more scientific mind. 

10. Sort your characters into Harry Potter houses.
Alasdair would probably think he was a Slytherin, but he’s a Gryffindor. So is Clemence. Oliver and Mary are both Ravenclaws.  Dr. Geisler—definitely a Slytherin. 


Mackenzi LeeMackenzi Lee is reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, fast talker, and perpetually-anxious badass. She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction 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 fall of 2015 by Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins. 

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

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