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?
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.’
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.
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!