Angel With a Bullet isn’t quite a début novel
How much time should you dedicate to a dream before giving up? For author Grant McKenzie, the answer is never.
The first draft of McKenzie’s debut mystery in the new Dixie Flynn series, Angel With A Bullet, was written 22 years ago. And on Sep. 8, it will arrive in bookstores from publisher Midnight Ink for the very first time.
However, unlike his previous novels, this one is under his pen name, M.C. Grant.
“I was 26 when I decided I needed to take a leave of absence from my newspaper job and write that first novel,” says McKenzie, editor of WE Vancouver’s sister paper in Victoria, Monday Magazine. “I needed to prove to myself that I could take an interesting idea and flesh it out into a novel-length story with characters that I cared about. If I could do that, I knew it would become the stepping stone to reaching my dream of being a published author.”
After completing several drafts of the novel on his electric typewriter — “a nice step-up from my trusty portable manual that I had been using since I was a teenager” — he was, alas, not able to find an agent.
McKenzie returned to the newspaper business where he was a columnist, editor, and page designer for a major daily in Canada. But while he worked nights putting out the daily news, he never gave up writing fiction. In 2000, he published his first young-adult book, Avalanche on the Prairie, with a small press in Canada. And then in 2009, he published the first of three thrillers under his given name of Grant McKenzie. The first of those thrillers, Switch, has been published in the U.S., Canada, UK, Germany and Taiwan, and is due out in Russia later this year.
“But I always had a soft spot for that first novel,” says Grant. “The characters are just so much fun, and I love how the dark edge of the plot is interwoven with humor.”
Deciding to update his old typewritten manuscript, McKenzie rewrote the book as Angel With A Bullet and sold it to Midnight Ink within three weeks of completion.
“Mystery lovers are really going to enjoy this series. I pitched it to Midnight Ink as ‘Janet Evanovich meets John Sandford in a dark alley.’ It has humour, danger, action and even a dash or romance.”
Grant decided to go with a pen name for this series because Angel With A Bullet is written in first-person-female perspective so that the reader experiences the mystery through the eyes of the story’s protagonist, Dixie Flynn.
“Dixie is a wise-cracking investigative reporter for an alternative weekly in San Francisco who hides behind a tough exterior, but exposes her heart in her writing,” says McKenzie. “She also likes to envision ex-boyfriends leaping over her bed at night to help her fall asleep. And wait until you meet her neighbours.”
As a teaser, Midnight Ink has released Grant’s original and darkly humorous short story Underbelly as a free eB ook, which also contains the opening chapters to Angel With A Bullet. It’s available on Amazon now.