Bee Interviews Mackenzi Lee!

Posted July 17, 2017 by Bee in Interviews & Guest Posts, Uncategorized / 5 Comments

Hey darlings!

My favorite book of the year so far is without a doubt Mackenzi Lee’s THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE & VIRTUE. Monty and Percy have stolen my heart and I am not asking it back. So when Mackenzi agreed to do an interview, I was beyond excited! So let’s get on with it. But first a little more about the book.

Bee Interviews Mackenzi Lee!

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee
Published on June 20th 2017
by Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

5 Stars

1 – First of all, congratulations with all of the praise and success of THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE & VIRTUE! I imagine you weren’t expecting this when writing it?

Heck no! I honestly started writing book with the intention that it would never, ever be read by anyone. I wanted to write a tropey adventure novel with lots of weird jokes that was just for me. The fact that anyone is reading it (let alone responding positively to it) is still strange and amazing to me.

2 – How did this marvelous story and it’s fabulous characters come to life?

I’ve wanted to write a Grand Tour novel for a long time, ever since I learned about the phenomenon after taking my own year of travel in Europe. I’ve also always been a fan of tropey adventure novels, and wanted to write my own (I’m really into writing genre entries, in the same way This Monstrous Thing is a very tropey self aware gothic novel). I was also frustrated with the lack of diverse narratives in historical fiction, particularly as I became more aware of diversity that existed in actual European history but is so often glossed over or ignored. So all three kind of converged and out came Monty—his voice has been the same since the earliest incarnations of this book, but it took a couple of drafts to dig out why he was the way he was. And in the fleshing out of Monty, Felicity and Percy, two of the most critical people in his life, came to life too.

3 – You touch on several fairly heavy topics in this book. Was it hard for you to write some of those scenes? Like the scene in chapter 2 between Monty and his father?

It was hard because I wanted it to be emotionally authentic. A lot of Monty’s experience with his sexuality and his relationships mirrors mine, but a lot of it doesn’t, and I wanted to make sure that readers couldn’t tell the difference between them because of the emotional reality.

4 – It’s very obvious you did your research when you wrote this book, but how much research did you actually do? Have you always loved history?

Literally too much research to quantify. I’ve always loved history, since I was a wee child playing with American Girl dolls, and to be a historical fiction writer, you have to not only love history, but love research. You will be reading and researching before, during, and after writing. It’s hard to know when you have enough info to start, hard to know when you’ve done enough to turn it in and step back. It’s an insane about of research that ranges from what was the political situation in 1700s France to what would the floor have looked like in a bank in 1700s France? There are parts of the book that are intentionally very contemporary and anachronistic because I wanted the book to be relatable to a modern reader, but I wanted to make sure the period trappings surrounding it were authentic. Which takes a lot of research. Which, luckily, I really enjoy.

5 – Your debut, This Monstrous Thing, (which I also enjoyed a lot, by the way) is a retelling of Frankenstein. Do you ever consider writing another retelling such as this one?

Not right now, but never say never! The idea has to come organically from the source material, and that hasn’t happened again since then. And there aren’t many books as much as I love Frankenstein.

6 – Can you share anything about your two upcoming books?

Sure! The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a sequel/companion novel to GGTVAV, narrated by Felicity, and it’s about three girls from very different parts of Europe who come together to do science and piracy. My other book coming out next year is Bygone Badass Broads, a collection of nonfiction essays about badass women from history you probably don’t know about but should. It pairs very well with Felicity (and is illustrated by Petra Eriksson and her work is INCREDIBLE).

7 – Can we expect a glimpse of Monty & Percy in Felicity’s upcoming book, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS & PIRACY?

Of course! They’re definitely not central to the story—it’s very much Felicity’s—but they cameo!

8 – Without giving away major spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write in Gentleman’s Guide?

Anything with Monty and Percy in it was fun because BANTER. Though my favorite scene—it was one of the hardest, but the closest to my heart—is the only flashback scene in the book, where Monty is remembering a time when Percy was there for him when he needed someone. I wrote the scene in Iceland (name drop, sorry) when I was coming out of a really severe bout of depression, and was also thinking of my best friend, and how we both saved each other at various times in our lives without really knowing how to help the other person. It’s hard to be there for someone when you don’t know what they need but you so desperately want to help them, and I think this scene is so special to me because I’ve been both Monty and Percy in it.

9 – Do you have any book recommendations for fans of Gentleman’s Guide?

YES! Some of my favorite spirited historical adventure novels are Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel, The Jacky Faber series by LA Meyer, The Devil in the Marhsalsea by Antonia Hodgson, and The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman.

10 – Lastly, do you have any wisdom to share with aspiring authors who hope to get published one day?

-Take yourself seriously as a writer, be your own advocate, and value your time.
-Find people who get what you want to be doing and help you do it better
-Don’t get hung up on writing advice—find your process, find your people, find your style, find your voice, and find what works for you. There’s no right way or wrong way to be a writer, to write a book, to get published—you do you.

Thank you so much Mackenzi! It was an honor having you on the blog. I can’t wait to read your future books.


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5 responses to “Bee Interviews Mackenzi Lee!

  1. This is such a fantastic interview, Bee! I feel dumb now, but I had no idea exactly how much research went into writing historical fiction (even though it’s my favorite genre. I’m the worst.). I’m so excited for the Felicity book, and even MORE excited for Bygone Badass Broads!

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