Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Zanna Mackenzie - Author Interview and Book Spotlight

I'm so pleased to have UK author Zanna Mackenzie here with me today.  Zanna is the author of How Do You Spell Love - another book with a bit of a magical theme! 


Tell me about your latest book:
How Do You Spell Love? (HDYSL) is a contemporary romance with elements of mystery and a magical theme. It follows the story of friends Kat and Summer and how what they think they want in life and who they want to be with changes over the course of one summer. Kat is trying to get over the end of her relationship with Nathan whilst part of her is still convinced he is the guy for her. Then she meets Alex and starts to wonder where her future lies. Summer is trying to hold together her relationship with Rob but at a party she meets Kat’s cousin Tom and she too begins to question her relationships.

What inspired you to write this story?
One of my favourite authors is the talented Christina Jones who has written many modern romantic comedy novels with a deliciously light magical element to them. Her books involve spells and myths with herbs, plants, essential oils, crystals etc and I wanted to write something in a similar genre, so I created HDYSL. The magic in the book is only really in Summer’s half of the story, not Kat’s and it’s very light hearted – Summer only casts spells to try to help and she does so in a shed on her vegetable plot allotment!

Tell me a little about your Works in Progress:
I number my books so it is easier for me to keep track, so my current works in progress (WIP) are books 4 and 5. Book 4 is written and is now at editing stage. It’s a contemporary romance set in Derbyshire’s Peak District and centres on the inhabitants of a village which is a mecca for extreme sports enthusiasts. The main three characters are Faith who owns and runs a coffee shop in the village, and Zane who co-owns an outdoor sports centre with business partner Matt. It’s about the complex and developing relationships for each of them. Book 5 has a scene outline of about 40,000 words in place and I now need to go back through it and ‘fill in the gaps’ adding in the detail. It is set in Scotland and London and about the negative side of fame and how it impacts on relationships.

For any new readers who would like to read your work, please tell me a little about your past books. 
The first book I wrote is yet to see the light of day and is on my ‘to do’ list for a major revamp. Book 2 is called The Love Programme and is a romantic comedy set on a private estate in the Scottish Highlands, complete with castle and gorgeous laird. Lucy needs to get out of town for a while due to circumstances beyond her control (i.e. her ex walking out on his wedding to someone else saying that he is still in love with Lucy) and she ends up as part of a TV programme about the psychology of love being filmed on a Scottish Highland estate. She’s supposed to be sorting her head, heart and her life out whilst there but finds herself falling for the estate’s owner Paul who has a mysterious woman called Hannah in his past. Things get further complicated when her ex tracks her down in Scotland, wanting to win her back.

Do you have a favourite writing snack?
No, I don’t. To be honest when I’m writing I get totally immersed in my work and forget about food/drink/answering the door/feeding the dogs (no, just joking on that one, honestly, the dogs would never let me forget to feed them!!)

If a movie was made about your book, who would be in your ideal cast?
When I create characters I tend to do a detailed bio for them with lots of back story. To get a good visual picture of them in my head I tend to base them looks-wise on people I have seen on TV and have added to my ‘character inspiration folder’. Because of this system I can instantly say who my ideal cast would be because I would choose the actors my characters look like, which would be:

Alex – the actor Paul Walker (Fast & Furious, Noel)
Kat- the actress Keri Russell (August Rush)
Summer – the actress Rachel Hurd-Wood (Peter Pan)
Tom – the actor James Lafferty (One Tree Hill)

Do you have a character you’ve enjoyed writing the most?
I think in HDYSL it was Alex, for some reason I often prefer writing the male characters to the female ones. Alex was fun to create, he has a lovely sense of humour and is rather yummy too –OK, I admit, I had a bit of a crush on him!

What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
Gardening, especially growing fruit and veg, walking the dogs with my husband, reading (of course!) and watching films.

What sort of books do you like to read?
All sorts, from Mills & Boon romance to chicklit, crime, mysteries, thrillers to witchcraft/magic stories, travel-lit to Jane Austen.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to write their own book?
Be persistent and believe in yourself and what you’re doing. Treat it seriously and commit time to your writing.

What parts of the writing process do you love and hate the most?
I love thinking up the plots, creating the characters. My least favourite part (though I don’t hate it) is having the patience to type up all of the book – I get super keen and want the book to be finished in an unfeasible length of time so I get a bit irritated when my fingers can’t type fast enough to keep up with all the plot scenes and dialogue whizzing round in my head, all keen to get down on the page.

How Do You Spell Love? was published in March 2013 by Crooked Cat Publishing.

Make A Wish…
Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?
Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.
When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.
Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.
Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.
Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…


Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen.
Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.
Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.
Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.
Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’
Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. It was shaping up to be one of those days.
Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.
Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.
A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”
“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.
“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”
The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”
Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.

About Zanna 

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the East Midlands in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!
Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme and How Do You Spell Love.

Find out more about Zanna at:
Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie


  1. Leigh, thanks so much for inviting me to visit A Broom With A View, much appreciated!

    1. You are most welcome. Thank you for joining me :)