For most of my creative writing projects I write under the pen name J.M. McKenzie. I use a penname for a number of reasons, not least of which is that McKenzie is my given name and the name of my father who, because he had three daughters who all took on the names of their spouses, the name will die with.
I started my first fictional novel, The Ice Factory, way back in 2011 , but life and work took over, as they always do, and it got resigned to the back burner. The Ice Factory is (or will be) a semi-autobiographical story that I have always wanted to tell. It is essentially about a traumatic loss of innocence and is set in Africa in the late sixties and early seventies.
When, in 2015, I joined the local writers group that has now become JAMS Publishing, I became aware that The Ice Factory just wasn’t coming together for me. It was a difficult story to to tell . It covered some seriously heavy duty subject matter, I was using the likes of Margaret Attwood and Donna Tart as the standard I was aspiring too (I know, I know), and I just didn’t have the time, the experience or the writing knowledge to do it justice.
My fellow writers, who are also now good friends, suggested I try something different, maybe something lighter, to cut my writing teeth on. I’m not sure that the Zombie Apocalypse counts as ‘lighter’, but that was a route I decided to go down.
I’ve always been fascinated by dystopian and apocalyptical stories, and zombies in particular. I first got the bug when I watched the original George Romero movies and it just grew from there. Since then I have watched almost every zombie movie or TV show that has been made, read almost every book that has been written and played every game that has been created. I even took part in a BBC reality survival TV show that was set a zombie apocalypse (I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse).
And so, I changed direction and started work on Wait for Me. I wanted the story to be about an ordinary woman (like me but not me) and how she would fare in the zombie apocalypse. Inspired by The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker, I wanted it to be about a journey. A journey through places that would be familiar to me and my readers, but that were changed forever by the apocalypse. And so, Wait for Me was born.
Again, life and work made for very slow progress, but when my career in healthcare ended prematurely in 2018 due to redundancy, I decided to focus on my writing. I published Wait for Me in January 2021 and the sequel Trident Edge the following October.
I have also published a couple of short stories, co-authored a biography and contributed to a series of flash fiction anthologies, all of which are listed below .
Trident Edge – October 2021
Six months into the UK zombie apocalypse, Lisa and Neil have left the relative safety of their small enclave in the Midlands to travel north. Their destination, Trident Edge, is purported to be a highly secure military base that is taking in survivors and transporting them to safety. The journey is longer and more perilous than they could ever have imagined, forcing them time and again to question their decision. But Lisa has a secret. A secret that makes it more important than ever that she gets there … whatever the cost.
Kindle £2.99 Paperback £9.99
Wait for Me, January 2021
Lisa is on a train, 20 miles from home, when the United Kingdom is hit by a terrifying bioterrorist attack, and a national emergency is declared.
After she was separated from her husband, Neil, in the hours following the September 11th attack, she made him promise that, in the event of a similar crisis, their priority should be to go home and wait for each other there.
Keeping her promise, and trusting Neil to keep his, she sets out on what she believes will be a quick and easy journey. But the world she once knew has changed forever and has become deadly and unpredictable.
Will she make it back home to Neil? Will he be there? Will he wait for her?
Kindle £2.99 Paperback £9.99
My Rachel, December 2020
This book is based on real life events and is a raw and authentic account of a true fight for life and justice.
A memoir of a mother’s love for her daughter, Rachel, who is diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, a condition which makes her incapable of voluntary movement or speech. It is an incredible story, which takes the reader from the beginning of Rachel’s life, to the present day, spanning a period of more than thirty years.
It is an open and honest journey of a special bond. A tale of anger, confusion, disability and change, but also one of courage, experiences, inspiration and resilience.
It tells of hopes and fears, and the true meaning of what it’s like to be the mother of a daughter with severe cerebral palsy. It portrays Rachel’s passion for life and her mischievous sense of fun.
Rachel’s story is one that deserves to be told.
Kindle £2.99 Paperback £9.99
Each Uisage, July 2021
Catherine has relocated to the wild and wonderful Outer Hebrides to write. But she is increasingly distracted by a mysterious old woman that emerges from a cottage across the bay every evening to leave out a plate of food for an unknown recipient. Who is she, what is she doing and who is her nightly visitor? Catherine is compelled to find out, whatever the cost.
Puschkinia, February 2019
Bad weather forces a young couple to take an enforced rest day from their skiing holiday. Snowed in with them, are the large, noisy Russian family who share their hotel. A lost wedding ring, an innocent child and a little happenstance, melts away a wall of prejudice and misunderstanding.
Kindle £0.99 Paperback £2.99