Author Maria McKenzie Talks About Her Work!

I am happy to welcome author Maria McKenzie to my blog today to tell us something about her writing and her latest work, ESCAPE.  Maria and I share a lot in common apart from a first name.  We're both around the same age (born in the early sixties), we both love writing and we are both partners in inter-racial marriages.  It's quite a sobering thought that where Maria lives, had it been a century and a half back in time, her marriage would have probably been illegal.

Have you always wanted to be an author or is it something that happened to you gradually?
Becoming an author was a gradual process for me. I came up with the idea for Unchained and couldn’t stop writing!  That narrative evolved from a simple love story into a complex family saga.

Do you write in any other genres or do you specialize in historical novels?

Right now I only write historicals. The first novel I released last year was The Governor’s Sons. It’s historical, as is The Unchained Trilogy.  However, as soon as the last volume of Unchained is completed, I’d like to write a contemporary piece.  

Where do you get the inspiration for your work?

Real life and my imagination. I came up with the idea for Unchained when I thought how sad it would have been if my husband and I had met 150 years earlier. We were living in North Carolina at the time, and being an interracial couple, we wouldn’t have been allowed to marry a century and a half earlier. I was inspired to write The Governor’s Sons after reading Dear Senator, the memoir by Essie Mae Washington Williams.  She was segregationist Governor Strom Thurmond’s love child by his family’s African American maid.

Do you have a fixed routine for writing - certain number of hours or a certain number of words per day?

While the kids are at school, I try to squeeze in about three hours a day in between housework.

How do you go about researching your historical background? Do you ever use your family history as many authors do?

The research I do depends on the subject matter. For Escape, the first part of The Unchained Trilogy, I read slave narratives, books on abolitionists, the Underground railroad, rice plantations and Wilmington, North Carolina during the 1800s.  I also toured some historic homes and the grounds of what was a rice plantation. To get a good feel for the dialogue of that time period, I read Mary Chesnut’s A Diary From Dixie. Those are just a few of the things I did.  The trilogy spans over 140 years and takes place in North Carolina, Ohio, California and New York, so I had to research a lot more, but I loved doing it! I was a librarian for several years.      

Do you write for pleasure and for the pleasure of your readers or is there an underlying social message?

I suppose my writing combines pleasure with the underlying social message that love is color blind.  If two hearts are meant to be together, they’ll find a way, regardless of circumstance. 

Thanks for coming over, Maria.  I loved your answers...

Connect with Maria :

Website  Facebook  Twitter Goodreads     


ESCAPE  is a romance novel, but it's no escapist fairy tale.  The obstacles that Daniel and Lori have to face to be together are daunting to say the least.  Lori's a slave and Daniel's a free man with abolitionist leanings.  Their fight to be together makes compelling reading although some of the obstacles they face are quite horrifying.  Yet the book is a joy to read.  What warms the heart is Daniel and Lori's simple love for each other and their strong trust in God.  It literally shines through  Maria's writing.  It's not a fairy tale read, yet it manages to be realistic and hopeful at the same time.

What's horrifying for me to read as a Christian is how many so-called Christian people used the Bible to justify slavery and the abuse of people of African-American origin.  It is good to know that there were Christians then who truly believed that there is no discrimination in God's eyes.

Well researched historical novels like this are truly educational; they can teach us much about the mistakes of the past.  Even in the world today there are people who dare not fall in love with each other for fear of dreadful and horrible retribution.

A very simple, compelling and historically authentic read.

Buy Links:

 Amazon         B&N


  1. Great interview, Maria and Maria!

  2. Hi, Maria! Thanks so much for interviewing me at your book blog, and thanks for the wonderful review!I'm so glad you enjoyed Escape:).

    BTW, I had no idea we had so much in common;).

  3. Really enjoyed the interview! It's always fascinating to learn the process other writers use to create their novels.
    Edith xxx

  4. Hi, Edith, glad you enjoyed the interview! It is interesting to see the different processes writers use.

  5. My pleasure, Maria. When I read about you, I was struck by the common factors. If I could write a novel like ESCAPE I'd be very proud!

  6. Hi Maria and Hello Maria!

    It was great reading about you, Maria McKenzie! Maria askes some very good questions.

    Thanks to both Marias for sharing!

    Need to remove 'capcha' Maria. Already tried commenting 3 times....lets see now...

  7. Hi Nas,

    Sorry about the captcha, but the spamming is such a nuisance.

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. Hi Pat, thanks for coming over, glad you enjoyed reading the post.

  9. Great to see you here, Kath. Glad you found it interesting...

  10. Edith, in many ways, writers have so much in common. We can all learn from each other.

  11. You're very naughty, Maria - here I am trying not to buy any more books and now I've gone and bought Escape :-)
    Great interview - thank you Marias! x

  12. Teresa, isn't Amazon terrible? It's the same with me, I couldn't resist Lynne Hackles' Profitable Prose book over the weekend! You go there for the free books and end up buying books anyway!

    As always, lovely to see you here, Teresa. Thanks so much for coming over and commenting - and for buying ESCAPE too! :)

  13. Thank you Maria, you made my day!

  14. Hi, Teresa! Thanks for buying Escape:). I hope you enjoy it! I always get in trouble when I go to Amazon--it's terrible, but amazing at the smae time!

  15. Hi Maria and Maria !

    Maria thanks for the great post and to other Maria where does the inspiration for your writing come from do you draw from real life ?

  16. Thanks Maria for the informative post.It was surprising for me to learn of the great lengths that a writer can go to research for a novel. Quite an eye opener.

  17. Hello Desere. Thanks for coming over. Maria was saying that real life and her imagination gives her the inspiration, which I find is probably true of most writers. I mean, yes, fiction is fiction but at the same time there is the fact that in order to be convincing, fiction must be grounded in possibility, that is real life. But like Maria, I find that you have to do research as far as possible to ensure accuracy. Maria had to read a lot of real-life slave narratives so she could get her facts right. If the historical accuracy is incorrect, it can do a lot to put the reader off. I've often spotted huge mistakes in historicals and it just turned me off the book completely. The best was where a man, about 1500 years BC, was lying on his bed, reading a book. If he was lying on his bed reading a book, it would have been a stone tablet and the bed would have collapsed.

  18. Wes, I'm expecting a novel from you one of these fine days and I'm sure you'll research everything as far as you'll have to. I wouldn't expect anything less from a dedicated writer like you.

  19. Hi, Desere! Love your name by the way, and plan on using it as the title of a future novel:). As for drawing from real life, I might read a true story (from the newspaper, a slave narrative or a biography) and then start thinking, what if? That's what I did with the Governor's Sons. As Maria said, drawing from real life and imagination are what most writers do. Many are vivid daydreamers with active imaginations;).

  20. Hi, Wes! So glad you enjoyed the post:). In Robert Masello's Robert’s Rules of Writing, he says, “In fiction veracity is nice…but believability is all that you’re really required to provide and all that your audience has a right to expect.” Some authors do a lot more research, some do less. The important thing is to strive for believability;).

  21. I totally agree - when hearts belong together, they'll find a way to make it work! Great interview, ladies :)

  22. Hello, Jemi. Delighted to see you here. Thank you.

  23. Thank you for answering my question. I always wonder what from real life if ever author use in their books.

    And wow using my name that is is awesome I would adore to see my name on a book. I have only ever read one book where the heroine was called Desire (which I believe is the correct spelling of my name) but my parents decided they loved the song Desere from Neil Diamond and the back casing of the lp had the spelling as Desere and not Desire lol

    And thank you Maria for the great interview


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