Spotlight on Maria McKenzie and her ESCAPE!

We have author and special friend, Maria McKenzie and she gamely answers some of my questions.....


Nas: Who is Maria McKenzie?

Maria: I’m an awesome mom, at least that’s what my son says! I also write historical fiction.  My newest release is Escape: Book One of The Unchained Trilogy, a family saga.  I’m currently at work on part two, Masquerade.  Last year, my novel The Governor’s Sons made it to number five on Amazon’s bestselling list of romantic suspense.  Before becoming a mom and author, I was a librarian.  I graduated from Wittenberg University with a bachelor’s in English, then received a master’s in library science from Atlanta University. I live in Cincinnati with my husband and two boys.  I love movies, museums, antiquing, travel and great food. I also enjoy reading romantic suspense, thrillers, biographies, true crime and historical fiction and non-fiction. Running helps keep me sane!

 Nas: What inspired you to be a writer?

Maria: When I was younger, I daydreamed all the time, but never aspired to be a writer.  I loved reading, but as a quiet person, assumed I could never say enough to fill a book. But speaking and writing are two different things.  I later realized that those of us who internalize and day dream usually end up writing! What inspired me to write Unchained, which is actually my first novel (started way back in 1998), was my marriage. One day I started thinking how sad it would have been if I’d met my husband 150 years. We were living in North Carolina at the time, and as an interracial couple a century and a half earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to get married.  I imagined a love story, and soon a family saga snowballed from there.

Nas: How did you chose your genre?

Maria: I love history, and to me it’s fun to educate and enlighten through fiction.

 Nas: What made you tell this story and why did you write this book?

Maria: As mentioned earlier, my marriage inspired the original story.  Although the narrative begins in the past, it concludes in 1998.  Steven Jordan is an average white guy, but his identity is thrown into question when his 100 year old grandmother reveals that her grandmother was a black woman, born a slave. Will Steven want to dig up this new root in his family tree, or leave it buried?  This saga actually shows how one family faded from black to white.  With genome research and programs like NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? and PBS’s Finding Your Roots, this is a fascinating, yet sticky topic to explore!  

Nas: How did you come up with the title?

Maria: The title of the trilogy is Unchained.  Lori was born a slave, but escapes from slavery.  Her granddaughter, Selina, who passes as white, carries the secret of her African American ancestry like a painful chain, bound around her heart. Only when she tells her family the truth can she free herself from the pain of that secret. Escape is part one of the trilogy. While Lori escapes from bondage, her daughter, Lavinia, escapes from living as a “Negro.”  In part two, Masquerade, Lavinia becomes a great actress in New York, all the while hiding her true identity.  Revelation is part three, and in this story, Lavinia’s daughter, Selina, reveals the truth about her ancestry.

Buy links for Escape:

Amazon                       B&N
 
Maria around the web:

Website     Facebook         Twitter         Goodreads

37 comments:

  1. Sounds fascinating! I love historical fiction, too, and if I were a writer, that's what I would write. Your book sounds terrific~

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    1. Hi Shelley,

      Historicals are so fascinating for me as well!

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  2. Fantastic interview! Love the titles of your trilogy. Congrats!

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    1. Hi Cherie!

      Thanks for swinging by! The trilogy titles does sound intriguing!

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  3. Very interesting story! Fascinating topic which resonates with me...
    I can see the similarities to the situation in South Africa. In my country, during the apartheid era, the Prohibition Of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 prohibited interracial marriages (not that long ago compared to the century and a half earlier referred to by the author)
    I'm going to get my hands on a copy of this book.

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  4. Looking forward to reading this one! Love the inspiration for the story!

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    1. I do hope you get to read this one Jemi!

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  5. It's great getting to know Maria and her work. Congrats to her on her release.

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  6. Congrats on your new release, Maria. :D

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    1. Thanks for coming by Stina!

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  7. it's nice to meet you, Maria! Congrats and best wishes with your book!

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    1. Thank you Karen for coming along and reading this post!

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  8. It sounds like an interesting story. Something fresh and different.

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth for your lovely comment!

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  9. I enjoyed hearing how you started writing, Maria. Lovely story!

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    1. Thank you Emily for reading this post!

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  10. Congrats on the release of your book, Maria. Sounds like a compelling story, especially after hearing about what inspired you to write it.

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    1. Thanks for coming along to read this post Lyn!

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  11. I really enjoyed this interview! You're so right - writers are the people who daydream and internalize a lot!

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    1. Thank you Sherry for saying so!

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  12. @Shelly: Thank you! I love history, and now I love writing about it:).

    @Cherie: Thanks so much! My husband helped me come up with the name for the third one. When I said, "How about Truth be Told," he told me no way!

    @Michelle: Our countries share a very similar history in that respect. I hope you enjoy Escape.

    @Jemi: Thank you! You never know what will inspire a story.

    @Medeia: Thank you so much!

    @Stina: Thank you!

    @Karen: Thank you, and nice to meet you!

    @Elizabeth: Thanks! I have a feeling there were a lot of true love stories like that, but have been hidden away.

    @Emily: Thank you! You never know what'll spark a new interest!

    @Lyn: Thank you! The idea compelled me to keep writing:).

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  13. @Sherry: Glad you enjoyed the interview! My dad always used to tell me to stop daydreaming--I never knew I could use it for something useful;).

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  14. I like reading the same genres! I always like to take something away from what I read too. Sounds like a good book- I'll have to put it in my to read pile!

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  15. What an interesting concept. I love looking at generational ties like that. And I love seeing what inspires people to write the books they do.

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    1. Thank you Janet for coming along and reading!

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  16. @Rose: Thank you! I always like to take away from what I read too.

    @Janet: As you can tell, I'm also fascinated by generational ties!

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  17. What a fascinating premise for a book! Thanks Nas and Maria!

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  18. Thank you, Lydia! I could probably find some more story ideas ( as we all could) if I do a little digging into my family history.

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  19. Great interview!

    It's always interesting the effect background has on an individual; it's a good concept for a story.

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    1. Thank you, Golden Eagle! I've heard it said that everybody has at least one book to write. I must agree that all of us have some "background material" that would make for a compelling story.

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  20. Yay for beautiful Maria!! Love how her marriage inspired Unchained! Also her blog really digs up some amazing historical nuggets that always fascinate!! Take care
    x

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    1. Hi, Old Kitty! Thanks for your kind words!

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  21. It's great to meet Maria! We are almost neighbors; I live about 90 minutes from Cincinnati. :) Love the combo of history and romance. Wishing Maria all the best!

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    1. Hi, Karen! So glad you stopped by! Maybe we can connect in person at the Lori Foster Reader Author Get Together in Westchester, Ohio;).

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You can discuss your romance novel addiction too!