Recently we sat down with Catherine McKenzie, author of Spin, Arranged, and latest novel Forgotten (available in Canada now and coming soon to USA), to find out her thoughts on what her main characters are reading, who’s on her celebrity paparazzi list, and how she juggles her love of writing with her career as a lawyer.
Kobo: Forgotten has a really interesting premise. Where did the idea come from?
CM: I heard about someone who had gone on a trip, gotten sick, gotten stuck in a foreign country and when they returned someone else was living in their apartment. I don’t know anything else about their story, in fact I expressly forbid the person who was telling me the story from telling me anything more, but I thought it was an interesting premise to explore some things that had been in my head for a while.
Kobo: In Forgotten, Emma’s African vacation turns into a bit of a disaster. Have you ever had a vacation go horribly wrong? What happened?
CM: I’ve never suffered anything like Emma. The closest I’ve ever come is missing a plane a couple of years ago in Chicago after landing in a lightning storm. I ran for my plane, fell and skinned my knees; I still have the scars.
Kobo: Have you ever had that feeling of life “moving on without you”?
CM: I think everyone feels like that sometimes.
Kobo: Emma from Forgotten has the chance to change her life. How open to change are you in your life?
CM: Open enough to start writing books when I had a full-time job as a lawyer!
Kobo: At the beginning of Forgotten, we learn that Emma’s mother dreamed of going to Africa. Where is your dream destination? What would you do when you got there?
CM: I’d love to go to Italy. And when I got there I’d eat a lot of pasta!
Kobo: Katie Sandford from Spin, Anne Blythe from Arranged, and Emma Tupper from Forgotten all end up at crossroads. Who do you call on when you need to make a life-changing decision?
CM: I have a great circle of friends, including my life-long best friend, Tasha, to whom Forgotten is dedicated.
Kobo: What are Katie Sandford, Anne Blythe, and Emma Tupper’s favourite books? What is your favourite book?
CM: Katie Sandford’s favourite book is High Fidelity. Anne Blythe’s favourite books are the Anne of Green Gables series. Emma Tupper’s favourite books are the Harry Potter series. I love all those books, but my favourite is probably Pride and Prejudice.
Kobo: In Spin, Katie has a shot at her dream job if she snoops on a celebrity in rehab. If you were going undercover to snoop on a celebrity of your choice, who would it be?
CM: That’s a tough one! I’d be curious to see what a day in Paris Hilton’s life is really like.
Kobo: Who would you cast in the movie version of Arranged? Who would you choose to direct?
CM: Even tougher! I’m not a visual writer so I don’t have a real mental image of what the characters look like. I thought Stephen Frears did a great job directing High Fidelity, which is one of the best book-to-film translations I’ve seen.
Kobo: How do you juggle being a lawyer with being a writer?
CM: I get asked this question a lot, and you’d think I have a better answer, but I guess you just make time for the things you love.