What is Cryptozoology?

Nean McKenzie, author of Cryptosight, shares some of her experiences of the publication of her first book, an adventure story for 8-14 year-olds.

Staring into thick bush, full of shadows and tangled plants, I’m always aware there COULD be something in there that I don’t know about. It’s probably something I’ve heard of before. But what if it’s something hidden, something unknown? And once I started thinking about this, Cryptosight began. Cryptozoology is a little zone between fantasy and reality. I have spoken to two quite normal people since Cryptosight has been published, who both claim to have seen a ‘black cat’ (the puma that is frequently sighted but never confirmed, all over Victoria). I find this quite fascinating.  How do so many people see these things? Do they exist? And if they don’t, why do people think they do?

Cryptosight cover
Cryptosight cover

When I was growing up and reading middle-grade fiction, I came to know the Cornish coast with the Famous Five, the Swiss Alps with Heidi and Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables. I could picture them in my mind, even though I’d never been there. And when I did go there as an adult (although I still haven’t got to PEI), I felt like I’d been there before. Cryptosight is a book about real places in country Victoria and South Australia – great settings for an adventure story. And just as exciting and interesting as the other ones I mentioned, especially when it comes to Cryptozoology.

I started writing Cryptosight in 2013. After a few drafts at the end of 2015, I found out Cryptosight and I been awarded a Maurice Saxby mentorship for 2016. I had the lovely Judith Rossell as my mentor and with her helpful suggestions, I wrote another draft. However it wasn’t until Christmas Eve in 2017 that I received an email from Anna Solding at MidnightSun asking for the full manuscript. Then in February the next year, I got a call saying those magic words, ‘We’d like to publish your novel.’

Nean McKenzie
Nean McKenzie

Cryptosight is my first ever book to be published. I had been writing for fifteen to twenty years, but I didn’t know much about publishing at all. I’m quite glad I ended up with MidnightSun. Because Anna took me through the whole process, I could ask her questions when I needed to, and I did frequently. I liked the personal approach, being with a smaller publisher – I felt I was really listened to when I said what I had in mind for my story. I really liked the other books they published as well.

I had two launches – one in Melbourne and one in Adelaide.

Melbourne launch
Melbourne launch

 

 

 

 

 

Adelaide launch
Adelaide launch

 

It was incredible to share my story with friends and family. Cryptosight is now out in shops, schools and libraries. I have done a few writing workshops with kids, done some signings and a middle-grade book club. But most importantly, Cryptosight is now a book that can now be read by real people!

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