Sidney Lit Fest welcomes former journo turned mystery author

Grant McKenzie has quite the story to tell on his journey of becoming an author of edge-of your-seat thrillers.

Author Grant McKenzie will be reading from his latest novel on May 18 at the Red Brick Cafe is Sidney.

Author Grant McKenzie has quite the story to tell on his journey of becoming an internationally-published author of edge-of your-seat thrillers.

Writing all his life, McKenzie wrote his first novel when he was in junior high school. In his early 20s he was a journalist, starting on the dead body beat at the Calgary Sun when he was just 19.

During the day he attended journalism school, later becoming a senior editor at the Calgary Herald.

“While I was there, that’s when I really started to get into my fiction, so I wrote my first three novels on a typewriter,” he told the PNR.

McKenzie later moved to the Sunshine Coast commuting to work at the Vancouver Sun. This is when McKenzie began writing his sixth novel Switch, which ended up being his first published novel in 2009.

His most recent book is The Fear in Her Eyes, which starts a new series. It’s also the book he will be doing a reading from on May 18 at Red Brick Cafe.

“All the novels that I write as Grant McKenzie up to this point have all been stand alone thrillers,” he said, adding that in another of his novels, Speak The Dead, the main character is actually a secondary character from The Fear In Her Eyes.

That story stars Ian Quinn, a Child Protection Officer in Portland Oregon. His daughter was run over and killed by a drunk driver when she was leaving school and Quinn has been mourning ever since. He later gets a message from prison from the individual who killed his daughter — an invitation to visit the man in prison in a seven word note: ‘I was payed to kill your daughter.’ And that’s the start of the mystery thriller.

What inspires this author to write such intense books?

Journalism.

“I think a big part of it comes from being a journalist. Being a journalist for 30 years and a lot of the sort of injustice that you see as a journalist. You’re there and you’re reporting on those stories but you can’t really act on them, you’re job is to report on them.”

He said some of that frustration that comes out of covering crime is that one often wishes they could solve it in a different way, so a lot of that angst where you want to see justice and fairness in the world, inspires the fiction he said.

In terms of McKenzie’s process, he travels to the areas in his books and does his research. He said he likes to write about the west coast.

“I always look for quirky or interesting little nuggets that I can put in the novel.”

McKenzie has written six books under his own name and three under the pen name m.c. Grant (which he writes in first person female).

He used the pen name as he didn’t want readers to know he was male. He said it was also a different kind of mystery he was trying to write.

The direct sequel to The Fear In Her Eyes will be his next book, The Butcher’s Son, coming out in September in hardcover. McKenzie is currently the Director of Communications for Our Place in Victoria.

He will be reading from The Fear In Her Eyes on May 18 at the Red Brick Cafe with another author, Tricia Dower. The reading, a fundraiser for the Sidney Literary Festival, will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at Tanner’s Books.