1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
I write under the pen name J.M. McKenzie. I’m Scottish but live in the UK Midlands.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
I’m the author of Wait for Me and Trident Edge, which are both set in the UK after a bio terror attack and tell the story of an ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey to survive and get home in a world that has changed forever and is now dangerous and unpredictable. My genre is zombie apocalypse.
3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
Lisa, my main character, is introverted and analytical. She is not your typical machete wielding, gun toting, alpha male zombie apocalypse survivor. I wanted to write a story about how an ordinary woman would react and behave in an apocalyptic scenario.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
The hardest scene to write was a chapter in the first book involving an evil and violent group of survivors. The scene did not feature in the first draft but was added after feedback from Beta readers – against my better judgment.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
After dipping my toe into the lottery of traditional publishing I decided to self-publish and have no regrets about my decision. I have more control over my content, a bigger share of my royalties and people are reading and enjoying my books!
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
I think the most difficult part of my writing journey was getting the first book finished. It was a slog, a constant battle with confidence and self-belief and a steep learning curve. I’ve very much been on a roll since then.
7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
The first two books are a series. Trident Edge is set six months after Wait for Me and is a continuation of Lisa’s story. My current work-in-progress, Amenti Rising, is a stand-alone story about a different group of survivors in a different location but in the same zombie apocalypse.
8. Who are some of your favourite authors, what are some of your favourite books, and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
I read a lot in many different genres. A few of my favourite non-horror authors include Margaret Atwood, Donna Tart and Emily St. John Mandel. In the horror genre I like Stephen King and Paul Tremblay. In the zombie genre I like M.R. Carey, Chris Philbrook, Rhiannon Frater, Sarah Lyons Fleming, Mira Grant, Max Brooks and Carrie Ryan. I love all of their books but a few stand outs are Alias Grace, A Secret History, Station Eleven, The Stand, Survivor Song, The Girl with all the Gifts and Adrian’s Undead Diaries … I could go on but I’ll stop here.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
I have done most of my marketing on social media, Facebook and Twitter in the main. Just starting to have a go on Instagram. This year I’m going to come off KUP and try a Book Bub ad!
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
I don’t like the fact that many zombie apocalypse books are so macho with lots of guns and very big knives and people who adapt to extreme violence so easily and quickly- real life is not like that and neither are my books!
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
I read all my reviews and use the best ones for marketing purposes. Generally they have been positive but I’ve had an occasional negative comment. I don’t take it to heart- you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes I even agree with them. Reference “evil” scene in Wait for Me. I’ll follow my own judgement in the future!
12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
I write in silence. I hate being interrupted! When I get into the zone I can write for hours without a break. I used to be a “pantser” but I have plotted out every scene in Amenti Rising and am loving the process. I think the book will be all the better for it!
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
The best advice I got as a writer was from Chris Philbrook, author of Adrian’s Undead Diaries. He said that whoever you are and whatever you write there will always be someone out there who loves your book.
14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
I’m currently 40K words into Amenti Rising and I think it’s going to be a corker! I already have the cover!
15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
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