Friday, June 8, 2018

Weekly Author Fridays featuring Heather McKenzie - Author Interview + Excerpts

Time to feature another author!  This time I will be featuring Heather McKenzie, author of Serenade and Nocturne.



About Heather McKenzie
Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three and an aspiring painter, she resides in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and loyal pets. You can visit Heather at www.heathermckenzie.com 

Interview
What genre/category is Nocturne?
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Romance Thriller and Suspense 

Release date? 
March 20, 2018 in digital and July 10, 2018 in print 

Please describe what the story is about in one sentence. 
This is Book Two of the Nightmusic Trilogy. The story continues with Kaya being forced to make a heart-breaking desicion to save the ones she loves. 

Briefly, what led up to writing The Nightmusic Trilogy
A career in music! I had been telling short stories through songwriting for a very long time and this just seemed to be the natural next step. 

What inspired you to write The Nightmusic Trilogy
I was in my local bookstore one afternoon with my daughter while she searched the Teen/Young Adult section in frustration. She didn’t want vampires, or witches, or dystopian worlds, she wanted a modern day adventure with characters that felt real. So, being the doting mother that I am, I started writing my first book for her. One month into the process, I dropped everything to focus entirely on learning how to write. I fell head over heels in love with this avenue of storytelling. Being a musician gave me many life experiences to pull from, and my love of teen fiction fueled the passion to forge ahead and get the story on paper. A love triangle, the romantic setting of the rocky mountains, the art of survival and a character whose strength builds with each page... it all began to come to life every time I sat down to write. I realized when I completed the first manuscript, that what I was essentially trying to get across to my daughter –through the magic of reading– was the understanding of true love; what it feels like and how you know when you’ve found it. And, I am happy to say, that my knowledge of that is born of my own, real, experience. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
I have tried to touch lightly on the effects of chemicals on our bodies and bring to light the correlation between what we do to the earth, and how it ends up affecting us. We need to care for ourselves and our planet. 

How much of the book is realistic? 
I tried to make the book feel like it could actually happen. The characters are completely fictional, but the settings are not. Caves and underground hot springs and the castle in the mountains? All real. The Death Race that takes place every August in Grande Cache? Real. Beautiful one horse towns and yellow fields of flowers? Yup. Real too. 

What are you reading now? 
Everything written by Sarah J. Maas. She is amazing. 

What are your current projects? 
I have just finished book one of a new series of adult fiction that I am very excited about. It is about to enter the editing process. I am also close to finishing RHAPSODY, the third book in the Nightmusic Trilogy. 

Where are you from? 
Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA! I was born in the city, then moved to an acreage just outside it and lived an absolute fairy tale childhood in my own ‘castle’ until I left to join a rock band at and play professionally. Eventually I moved back, got married there, and got to watch my children have the same amount of happiness as I did in my childhood home. 

Where do you write from? 
A home office/recording studio with wall to wall books, pianos, and two old dogs sleeping at my feet. What was the hardest part of writing? Sitting for countless hours every day. I gained about fifty pounds and think I broke my butt at one point. But it was worth it. 

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
If you love it, it’s good. Take opinions with a grain of salt and trust your gut. 

What do you do when you aren’t writing? 
I am still actively involved in music, writing and being loud and aggressive with my band on weekends and recording whenever I can. I also teach classical piano and voice to youngsters one day a week, which is an incredibly rewarding experience. When I need peace and quiet– which is often– I paint.

About Serenade
When eighteen-year-old Kaya is kidnapped and held hostage in the Rocky Mountains, her devoted bodyguard vows to stop at nothing to get her back. But, as dark family secrets begin to unravel, she wonders if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor is safer than being found. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her. Her head is saying run...

Billion-dollar heiress Kaya Lowen dreams of living the life of a normal teenager. She’s fiercely guarded by her controlling father who goes to extreme lengths to protect her, even though his questionable motives push her away. Barred windows, armed-guards, and a fortress of concrete walls are confining...but they aren’t enough; Kaya is kidnapped. And it’s the first time she’s ever been free.

Now the hunt is on.

Held for ransom in the wilderness, Kaya and her captors endure the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them. While they are relentlessly pursued across rugged terrain and through raging storms, the captivating stranger that stole her from her father, also steals her heart. Caught in the middle of a deadly game, Kaya desperately tries to do the right thing while her rescuers draw ever closer. Survival soon comes down to a choice between love, and loyalty.

Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and the power of finding your own voice on an epic journey of life-or-death love.

An Excerpt from Serenade
This was it, now or never.

I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.

I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up… 

I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…

Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Stop fighting,” he said.

His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.

“Stop… please,” he begged.

His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.

“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.

We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.

“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.

He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”

He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.

“I promise,” I said.

About Nocturne
I am hunted.

A pawn in a vicious game.

The only way I can protect the ones I love...

is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating– Luke.

Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.

A heart-pounding journey of self-discovery, Nocturne is the transformative second installment of the Nightmusic Trilogy by Heather McKenzie.

An Excerpt from Nocturne
I flew out the door into the cool night, took four steps, then stopped—the latest enlightening news about my father had sent me over the edge. Tears burst from my eyes. The last shred of hope I’d been hanging onto that Henry wasn’t all bad had been completely obliterated; he was an actual monster.

I dropped to the curb and put my head in my hands. The rain started falling, lightly dusting my shoulders at first, then becoming a downpour just to add to my misery. I became soaked head to toe, but I didn’t care. I stayed where I was, wishing the rain would melt me into a puddle that would drain into the gutter and then just disappear into the earth…

“You left something in my truck,” said a voice from out of nowhere.

At the edge of my vision was Ben, rain coming down even harder now and pouring off his cowboy hat in rivers. He was holding out a paper bag, which was now soaked. It was the muffin I hadn’t eaten.

“I didn’t want it to go to waste,” he added, eyeing me with concern, then glancing at the café window where I could feel many sets of eyes on my back.

I dropped my gaze back to the gutter. My body didn’t want to move, and I still held out hope that the rain might just wash me away. Ben said something, and then he hauled me up and turned me to face him. He lifted my chin, and I had no choice but to meet his eyes. The rain plastered my hair to my face, mixing with the tears that were spilling out of me with blinding force.

He gave me a weak smile. “I tried to leave. Got in my truck and was ten minutes out of town, but then I realized…” He paused, fumbling for the right words. “I could really use some help at my ranch. Now, the job doesn’t pay much, but you’ll have your own room and all the food you can eat. You’ll be dry.”

He waited patiently for an answer, but I was so grateful that all my words caught in my throat. He tossed the paper bag with the muffin into the garbage. After a quick glance at the internet café and the white-haired waiter watching from the doorway, his hand firmly latched onto mine. I had the sense I wasn’t being given a choice, I was going wherever this cowboy wanted me to.

“I’m taking you home now,” he said over the downpour.

Home. Home was in Luke’s arms…. 

The rain was falling in sheets. Since I wasn’t about to turn into a puddle and dissolve, I let the cowboy lead the way. 
Reactions:

0 comments:

Post a Comment