1. How did you come up with the title?
I had a knotty pine ceiling in my bedroom, and whenever I'd lie in bed I'd stare up at what looked exactly like alligators in those brown streaks. They stared down at me with round knotty pine eyes. I always carried those images of Alligators Overhead around in my head I guess, and then a story found me that seemed to fit that title.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I just wanted readers to enter a fantasy world and enjoy the visit. Of course, there's a GREEN message about open space and living in harmony with nature. Pete, my main character, has to learn about responsibility, so there's bit of WITH POWER COMES RESPONSIBILITY in the book, but all of that is more fun and not preachy.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
Not much. However, there is Pete's loss that's very realistic. When he loses his parents he must live with his aunt, but when the story starts all of that has already happened, so it comes in as back story.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No. I'm satisfied with how it came to the page. Some readers have asked if there's a sequel, but I didn't plan that into the story, so if I'd thought about writing a second adventure with these two boys I guess I would have laid the groundwork in Alligators. That would be one possible change.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Sitting. I hate sitting. Sometimes I walk around with a pad and pencil in my hand, scribbling just so I don't have to be at my desk in a chair.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Don't let your editor leave town. My best reader and "detail-catch-everything-including-extra spaces" editor left for Italy just before this book went to press. I should have hired another editor, but I didn't. I've found a couple of extra words and deleted words and that's driving me nuts. Fortunately, I can change the digital books easily. The paperback will take longer, but I'll do it.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Frankly, I can't. I've always written something: personal journals, non-fiction articles; then suddenly a piece of fiction that started as an article and turned into a novel. I sold that and that's when I became hooked on creating stories for young readers.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This question always stumps me because I love so many authors. I keep choosing different ones when I respond to this question so that I can write about as many authors as possible. Margaret Atwood charms me with her lyrical style. It reminds me of singing. When I read her prose I almost have to say the words out loud. Here's a line from Robber Bride that I love: "Where to start is the problem, because nothing begins when it begins and nothing's over when it's over, and everything needs a preface: a preface, a postscript, a chart of simultaneous events."
9. Tell us your latest news.
I'll have a short story in the new anthology, Two and Twenty Dark Tales, called "Into the Sea of Dew." All the stories are retellings of nursery rhymes and mine is based on Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod. The launch starts soon and a group of the authors will be doing a presentation at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach, CA Nov 10 about 2:30. It will be great to meet some of the other contributors.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I hope they enjoy what I write and if they want to tell me about their experience, I love to hear from readers. I even take criticism. That's something I've learned to manage pretty well since I started publishing books. :-)
About the Book
Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town's bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he's up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn't the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete's guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find the witches and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.
Prices: $11.00 paperback, $2.99 Kindle
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure Fantasy
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Release Date: July 1, 2012
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords
About the Author
C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.
She takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short stories appear in Stories for Children, The First Time and the soon to be published, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. She just published her first Middle Grade novel, Alligators Overhead, this year.
Links to connect with C. Lee:
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