Writer’s Desk with McKenzie Catron
McKenzie Catron is a wheelchair-bound, autistic, award-winning YA fantasy author of the “Numina Parable” series and co-author of A Traveler’s Guide to The Lucky Gryphon: Recipes & Regalings.
She’s been an Arizona resident for more than two decades and lives with her doggy soulmate and service beast, Grimm.
McKenzie is also a full-time creative makeup artist and alternative model fighting against disability stigmas one creation at a time. When she’s not spending her anxious days writing novels or taking photos in her studio, you can find her over on Instagram sharing her art as @mckenziecatron.
More about A Daughter of the Trolls
Are you afraid of the bogeyman?
Eighteen-year-old Sparrow can’t remember a time when she wasn’t. And neither can her mother—or the trolls, imps, gnomes, and faeries who all live in the Glade and call it home. Though Sparrow’s weak heart keeps her wheelchair-bound, she and her mother have dedicated their lives to protecting the Glade, especially from the worst bogeyman of them all: the skin-stealing, poison-ingesting witch called Black Annis.
But one night, Sparrow makes a terrible mistake, and everything she once held dear is taken from her. The Glade is no longer a sanctuary, and the only way Sparrow can save her mother and her friends is to journey out into a monster-ridden world that wasn’t made for her or her wheelchair. Joined by her half-goblin friend, Rush, Sparrow will have to confront her fears before the ones they love are lost forever.
A Daughter of the Trolls will appeal to fans of European folklore and the darker Grimm Brother’s fairytales. This is a spine-tingling young adult fantasy adventure about evil witches, monsters, and the imperfect heroes who face them all. You’ll join Sparrow and her faerie friends on a life-changing journey where they face not only their outer demons but their inner ones as well.
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Q&A with McKenzie Catron
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
MC: I live in Arizona, but I hate the sun with a fiery passion, so I essentially live like a vampire all day with blackout curtains throughout my house. Gloomy, grey-skied rainy days are my happiest days, which is why I’m trying my hardest to move back home to Oregon.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for A Daughter of the Trolls?
MC: I became disabled in 2018 and prior to that I was an avid reader and makeup artist who often worked with YA monthly book boxes. My neurodegenerative condition put me in a wheelchair, and I often found myself reading almost a book a day to cope with this huge change. However, I soon found I had a harder time connecting with the characters in the books I devoured. I can’t even roll over the carpet, how was I supposed to melt into fantastical worlds full of travel and adventure? After this realization, I sought out books with disabled main characters, specifically those who are chronically ill and use a wheelchair 24/7 without being paralyzed. My search came up empty and my ‘too much’ gene totally kicked in. I figured if I wanted something like that, I’d have to create it myself. At that time, I felt so lonely and so isolated, but I was only two years into my disability at this point. If I felt this way it was no doubt that there were others out there, some who were born with similar illnesses and disabilities, that couldn’t see themselves in book characters either. Thus began my drive to write inclusive and representative Own Voices stories that touched on mental health, chronic illness, and physical disabilities!
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
MC: I always make sure each chapter I write is AT LEAST 3,000 words long. This helps me reach, and most times surpass, my word count goal depending on how many chapters I plan on having.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
MC: Prior to my disease progressing, I would write all day every day. Nowadays as my brain degrades and I’m losing function of my hands, I’m seeing the value in rest. It’s great to keep a routine and to try to hit a word count every day to make a dent in your draft, but it’s so easy to burn yourself out. If you can, treat writing like a ‘regular job’ and have days off. Clock in and clock out, give yourself the opportunity to have time to make yourself meals with breaks, and keep up on your social life and family time.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
MC: I’m not going to lie…I have a diet soda addiction. I’m always sipping on something bubbly as I work, it keeps me feeling fresh and often settles my stomach/nausea.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
MC: That’s tough! I’m a complete plotter and obsessive list maker (thank you ADHD and autism) so 97% of the time I have a plan of attack every time I go to write, but recently I’ve been getting stuck. My advice to you and myself is that sometimes it’s best to walk away for a little bit. Don’t sit in front of your keyboard and stare at that screen! Either take a break and find a way to reenergize yourself or if you’re determined on still brainstorming, do so in a different environment. Maybe even talk out the reason for the block with someone. I do this with my parents, but usually, I’m not looking for advice or ideas, mostly I’m talking at them and rambling on about plot points and characters. Many, many times I’ve solved my own problem just by talking out loud!
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
MC: With my last handful of books, I’ve done light editing after every chapter so I don’t get too overwhelmed later. Most of the time this looks like reading through the chapter to ensure it makes sense and I touched every point I needed to reach before running it quickly through Grammarly. Then, after the whole book is done, I’ll get into the nitty-gritty. As I’ve grown as an author I adopted slight changes to these methods, but it’s important to find what works for you, not everyone else. Nowadays, I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants, but having a progressive disease makes my case a little different, so currently I’m trying to find a new way that works for me and my ever-changing brain!
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
MC: Rushing through the process, especially if you’re planning on going the traditional route and querying agents to get a big publisher. It’s easy to get excited or feel urgent about trying to find agents and or indie publishers who take unsolicited manuscripts knowing that this stage can take months or years. If your book isn’t the best you can make it, it can’t reach its full potential. So, take your time developing, writing, and editing your story.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
MC: Watch out for those ‘ly’ words like softly, quietly, really, only, etc. Try to limit them as much as you can to what’s necessary in each chapter.
TG: What is coming up next for you?
MC: The next book in the Numina Parable trilogy and sequel to A Daughter of the Trolls, which is called A Goblin of the Glade, publishes November 28th! I’ve been dealing with some stroke-like events that have caused constant migraines, so the process of writing the 3rd Numina Parable book has slowed down a lot. But I have a book I wrote over a year ago going to an editor soon! This will be my first self-published novel, outside of the A Traveler’s Guide to The Lucky Gryphon: Recipes & Regalings cookbook/storybook hybrid I co-wrote with my friend and business partner, Stephen A.K.A. Quincy’s Tavern. At the moment, we are signing and shipping out preorders. We’ve got about 2,000 copies done and only 6,000 to go. So…essentially, I have a lot coming up haha
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