Author Spotlights

Volume XI – Catherine McKenzie

 Cece chats with Catherine McKenzie author of eleven novels, including her newest book, You Can’t Catch Me.



 Cece chats with Catherine McKenzie author of eleven novels, including her newest book, You Can’t Catch Me.

A litigation lawyer in her hometown of Montreal, Catherine McKenzie practiced law for twenty years before leaving her practice in August of 2020 in order to write full time.

“I think what ultimately drives me to write my novels is the stories that are in my head, and the best way for me to get them out is to write them down. It is almost a compulsion,” McKenzie says.

Described as being the master of the psychological sleight of hand, the author reimagines the traditional thriller genre, a la John Grisham, or James Patterson, whose novels usually deal with the external bad guys. Instead, McKenzie turns her thriller mysteries inward, into a suspenseful genre of familial relationships gone twisted, dark, sour. Domestic noir, so to speak.

In her early years of writing novels, at a time when she was still practicing law, McKenzie didn’t let anyone know the trajectory of her nighttime escapades.

“To me, telling people you are writing a novel is like saying you are trying to get pregnant,” the author says. “I didn’t want people saying to me all the time – oh, so you’re writing a book?  I kept my writing to myself for quite a while, and then slowly told a small circle of people, my closest friends what I was doing.  They were encouraging, but they are my friends, right? The first real outside encouragement I had was when I got my first literary agent, the difference being she wasn’t obligated to take me on.”

The key mission that McKenzie has for all of her books is that the reader be entertained in the most suspenseful of ways. She doesn’t want us, the collective readers, to see what is coming, who did what to whom, and how any of it is going to turn out.

“It is not interesting when you know right away who it was, or who did it, or what exactly happened,” McKenzie says.

That, dear readers, is an understatement.

Read my review of Catherine McKenzie’s current book, You Can’t Catch Me here ….

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Although each one of McKenzie’s books includes a couple of themes, she doesn’t want to beat anyone over the head with them.

“Hopefully, however, they add extra layers to the story, which makes for a more interesting read,” McKenzie says.

Sometimes the charm of a book is centred on the storyline; other times, its strength might be the plot or a travelogue-themed backdrop. McKenzie’s books, I find, are all about the characters, ones that can equally captivate you, disappoint you, or make you cheer for them. On occasion, truth be told, you might also want to shake them in frustration.

Take McKenzie’s upcoming book, Six Weeks To Live, which is being released on May 4th, 2021.

Published by Simon & Schuster Canada, Six Weeks To Live tells the story of a forty-eight-year-old woman, Jennifer Barnes, who has just been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and has only six weeks to live as a result of that diagnosis – or is that really the reason?  The twist – you can be guaranteed that there is always going to be a twist in McKenzie’s novels – is, that at the same time Barnes gets her cancer diagnosis, recent blood results show she is being slowly poisoned. Who would want to do that? 

Enter Barnes’ triplet adult children: Emily, the perfect oh-so-organized one; Aline, the moody distant daughter; and Miranda, the reckless can’t-be-counted-on one, who admittedly engages in some interesting ‘side bits’. Of course, there is also an ex-husband who has been down in the basement of the family home for no good reason.  Presumably. 

It is nigh impossible not to build relationships with McKenzie’scharacters, either rooting for them or giving them the proverbial boot as you valiantly pick around the plot.

Hidden, a book I wrote about infidelity, garnered hard, all one-star reviews on Amazon,” McKenzie says laughingly. “Reviewers were saying things like, ‘I hate books about infidelity’. While I wonder why they read it, at the same time it told me that I’d done my job. I made the situation realistic and that obviously stressed people out because it could happen in their own lives. It was quite interesting; for people to get that connected to either like or dislike a character in my book to the point they sit down and write me, shows I have done my job.”

Having written twelve books in fifteen years, including The Good Liar, which was named one of Goodreads 40 Hottest Thrillers in 2018, McKenzie is adept at visual turns of phrases, one of my personal and passionate quantifiers of a good book.

In her 2015 book, Smoke, which was named one of the top 100 Books of 2015 by Amazon, phrases resonate with imagery: water runs down the rocks and (it) smells like the beginning of time; and crickets grind in the air.

In You Can’t Catch Me, McKenzie opines: “There’s no real time of day in airports, only morning and drinking time.”

When discovering a writer of such skilled psychological adroitness, the knowledge that more books are on the way is a great ‘look forward to’ gift.

In the spring/summer of 2022, McKenzie’s novel, Please Join Us, will be released.

“It is a book about a woman who gets invited to a secret women’s networking group that turns sinister,” McKenzie says.

Of course as we all know, secret networking can be deadly.

One of the really cool things about writing is that you are taking a medium that is one dimensional and creating a three-dimensional world. You have to replicate all the senses with your words – sounds, smells, sights,” McKenzie says. “That is the alchemy of writing for me, the cool part about it.”

Want to be part of the cutting edge connected reading crowd? Make sure to come back next week for my chat with Janet Skeslien Charles, author of The Paris Library. Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Library Journal and Goodreads, The Paris Library is based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris.

Itchy travel feet? Take an Adventure by Chicken Bus here

Have you heard about the new developments in the Sherman Murders? Click here to read Cece’s chat with Kevin Donovan, author of The Billionaire Murders.

Send me a note and let me know who your favourite author is, as well as your fav book. Who knows – you might meet your author bestie on this very blog.cece in library small sizing

Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications and
is an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at  Her first book, *The Love Story,* was published
in 2019. Her second book will be coming out in the spring of 2021. Cece is also working on a book of Daily Reflections for Auto Immune Condition Warriors.

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