On Monday, March 19, I was lucky enough to go to the author signing of Mackenzi Lee, who was touring for her new nonfiction book called Bygone Badass Broads. It took place at the Cincinnati independent bookstore Joseph-Beth, which I just adore! They have some wonderful author events and I was really excited that I was able to see Mackenzi. In order to share as much as I can about the night, I thought I’d break things down by category. Also, please be aware that I’m paraphrasing everything here as I didn’t record the talk or anything like that!A full recap of author Mackenzi Lee's event in Cincinnati, Ohio! Learn more about this fantastic, hilarious author! #ontheblog #bookbloggers Click To Tweet
- She began by talking about her love of history and how she was surrounded by women in history growing up. Her love for women in history began by playing the computer game Carmen Santiago – two of the four levels she played (each level was a different period in time and had a guide from that time period) featured women. She also read Dear America books and the American Girl series.
- In high school, she worked at a Civil War reenactment park (I’m pretty sure that’s right…) and was a blacksmith for awhile, until a new owner came and said “women in history didn’t do that” and she was made to “wash laundry.” She came back with evidence that many women were in fact blacksmiths, but she still wasn’t given the job back. This was her first time experiencing historical sexism.
- She went to college for history and she even studied in England for some time. Because history is so focused on white, straight, cis men, she eventually decided not to become a historian and instead focus on historical fiction – she said that someone in academia had told her that her writing often read like fiction anyway.
- An audience member asked about books she’d been reading lately and she mentioned a few. John Hodgman’s book Vacationland, Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham, and Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. She said Vacationland is a nonfiction book of essays that she finds really humorous. Dreamland Burning – she said she doesn’t usually like dual narrative books because she tends to favor one POV over the other and then she just wants to skip over half the book. However, Dreamland Burning was different. She loved both narratives and the various chapters would end on a cliffhanger so she always wanted to keep reading. As for Blood Water Paint, this is a fictional book about a real person and it’s told in verse, which Mackenzi noted she doesn’t usually love. She said reading this book, she’d almost forget it was in verse. It sounds like an amazing story about an incredible person, and I hope to read this one soon.
- She mentioned that she started doing Bygone Badass Broads on Twitter because she was told she should probably be on Twitter (with Gentleman’s Guide coming out). She was surprised to find that so many people loved this feature and would let her know about all these other women in history. Since she was talking about Twitter, someone asked who she liked to follow on Twitter, and she mentioned We Rate Dogs – which is hilarious and adorable and I totally agree with this. She also talked about writer Jason Porath whose nonfiction book Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics is fantastic, according to Mackenzi. I’ve heard of this one but never read it – it’s on my wish list though! She also mentioned he has a new book coming out soon called Tough Mothers – it’s out on April 3rd! She also made note that he illustrates all of his illustrations, while her book is illustrated by someone else.
Bygone Badass Broads
- In Bygone Badass Broads, this was something that started as a Twitter project and she was happy to get a book deal out of it. It features 52 women – one for every week of the year because she wanted the book to be something that people could read in bite size pieces. She notes that she writes like she talks, so while it’s nonfictional accounts of women in history, it’s still very easily read (kind of like fiction).
- She did say there are tons of people she wished she could have included but she wanted the book to be as diverse as possible. She said that growing up in the U.S., a lot of the women she knew about where white women from the U.S. or Europe so a lot of people that were left out were often just these women. She also left out women who were really well known because she wanted the book to be something that people could really learn from, even if they already knew about some of the more popular women in history. For these reasons, she left out Mary Shelley, even though she loves her and Mackenzi’s first book is a re imagining of Frankenstein.
- She read an excerpt from the book, which was really fascinating and I cannot wait to read the rest of it.
- After her talk and reading an excerpt, she let people in the audience volunteer questions. One person wanted to know if she would ever write more Bygone Badass Broad stories and she said she’d love to do more non-fiction writing but she’d really like to focus on Queer people in history that aren’t recognized next, as opposed to just women.
- A guy in the audience mentioned how women are fighting for so much right now (not his exact words, but you get the gist), and so he was wondering about the title. I think he was essentially wondering if women found it offensive, but Mackenzi had a great answer. She thought it was all in context. She said these women are badass broads, and that using the term “broad” in this sense is taking back that power. She said she wouldn’t like it if a guy in a sports bar called her this, but in the context of the book and talking about these amazing women, she thought it was just fine. And I definitely agree!
A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
- Someone asked about Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and how they were excited about Felicity’s story next, but wanted more Percy/Monty. She said that they are in Felicity’s book, but as minor characters. She also said there is going to be a pre-order incentive. If you pre-order Felicity’s book, keep proof of purchase, because you will get a novella about Monty and Percy – it should be around 20k words.
- Someone else asked about the Gentleman’s Guide audiobook, which I NEED to listen to now. She said that she used to listen to mainly audiobooks growing up as her form of reading because she’d have a hard time focusing on books, so she’d always wanted an audio done for her book. Gentleman’s Guide is when she got that chance. She was given audio snippets of about 4 or 5 guys reading some of the book and was asked her opinion. Luckily, the guy she loved is who the publisher also loved so he ended up getting the job. And guess what? That guy’s name is Christian Coulson, who played Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She said when she first told people this, they asked “Is he the hot Tom? Or the weird Tom?” She didn’t realize there were two but she soon realized that Hot Tom is Chamber of Secrets Tom and weird Tom is the one from later in the films – the sixth I believe. So she can happily tell people now that it’s Hot Tom that reads the book. I found this story hilarious. He’s also apparently known as Sexy Voldemort.
- She also told a story about how once the audio was finished, she thought she’d listen to a little bit of it but that’s it. She likened hearing the words she wrote as to listening to a recording of your voice. However, she ended up listening to the entire book because how well Christian did with it. He ended up following her on Twitter, so she followed him back and then messaged him on there telling him what she thought of the audio. He wrote back saying basically, that it was a pleasure and if there was anything he could do to help promote, etc. to let him know. She had a publication party already set up for New York (where he was), so she messaged and said he was in no way to feel obligated, but would he be willing to come to the party and do a little reading? He readily agreed and they texted back and forth after this to figure it all out.
- She mentioned that he had to film right before, so he would come as soon as he could. So the evening started and when he arrived, she had a section marked for him to read. She had asked him what he wanted to read, but he said he’d only read it the few times for the audio so he couldn’t remember a specific moment. However, once there, she told her he had remembered a favorite part and was wondering if he could read it? Of course, this just happened to be a moment in the book that Mackenzi says had a lot of heavy petting and then full nudity at Versailles (if you’ve read the book, you know the part) and she could really only think to say, “My mom is here…” and he’s all “Oh, has she not read it?” LOL So yes, he ended up reading that part aloud and Mackenzi stated she was definitely red in moments. Too funny.
And that’s about it, I think! I hope I covered most of the evening for you all and if you get a chance to ever see Mackenzi Lee live, definitely do it. She’s so easy to relate to and just hilarious and wonderful. It was a real pleasure hearing her speak and being able to meet her and get my books signed. Don’t forget to grab your copy of Bygone Badass Broads now! You don’t want to miss it.