Exclusive Interview with Mackenzi Lee, Author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue + giveaway!

Binge on Books is joined today by guest reviewer and writer, Moog. She chat with Mackenzi Lee about all things queer historicals and also her stellar new release, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

When I first learned about The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I honestly thought I’d misheard. A queer YA historical road trip book? Surely I had just made that up out of my head and it couldn’t really exist. But it did! And does! And is out June 27th!

Blurb: 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.

We were lucky enough to catch up with the lovely Mackenzi Lee before the release of Gentleman’s Guide to talk about YA historical fiction, weird research facts, and what she’s working on next.

Moog for Binge on Books: Hi Mackenzi! Thanks for being here. I loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue from page one (especially Monty, disaster of my heart). I read a lot of YA and a lot of historical romance, but there’s not much historical fiction in YA. Your first book, This Monstrous Thing, and Gentleman’s Guide are both YA historicals with fantasy elements. What draws you to this genre in particular?

Mackenzi: Historical fiction is a hard category in YA–I feel like I’m constantly fighting against the idea that historical fiction is boring, and so many of my readers start their positive reviews of my books with the caveat “I generally don’t like or read historical fiction but…” And as delighted I am that they read and enjoyed mine in spite of that, I wish everyone loved historicals because they’re so magical! I love that historical fiction feels like fantasy, because the world is so foreign to modern readers, but it’s all real (which makes the fantasy such a natural addition, though I do tend to favor historicals that are lighter on the fantasy, or whose fantasy is rooted in the real history of the time it’s set in). But on the flip side of that, I love how, when you read historical accounts, you realize people don’t really change. We’re the same through centuries and across time and space. I was also a history major in college, and very close to becoming an academic writer, until a professor told me my papers read like historical fiction novels and I realized I might be writing in the wrong genre.

Moog: That’s so cool! What sort of things were you writing in your papers?

Mackenzi: Basically I would write things like “Henry VI was hurt and angry over this” and write dialogue for Richard III (my history degree emphasis was Wars of the Roses in England :). Which apparently you are not supposed to do. And in general I think my writing style skewed a little too narrative driven for my professors.

Moog: Le gasp! Not narrative! And writing historical fiction, like writing academic papers, comes with a bunch of research (I say, staring down my shelf full of Victorian social history books that I claim are for “research” and not just for my own heart). Was there any particular fact you found out while writing/researching for Gentleman’s Guide that you couldn’t find a way to include?

Mackenzi: Oh gosh, so much research. The trick to being a historical fiction writer is both knowing how to research (and loving it) and also knowing when to put down the research and start writing–it’s so easy to use it as an excuse to not get words on the page. My favorite fact, which didn’t end up in the book but is in the author’s note, is that there were more gay bars and clubs in London in the 1700s than there were in the 1940s. There was a thriving subculture for queer people in 18th century Europe!

My other favorite fact that didn’t make it in anywhere was that in the 1700s, the British were exporting prostitutes to pirate islands like Tortuga to discourage the pirates from just getting it on with each other. (But beyond random sex with each other, pirates also had a sort of civil marriage that bound two male pirates and their booty together, and often they shared living space and provisions on the ship. Pirates were pioneers of gay marriage 🙂

Moog: *hoards queer history facts like a tiny dragon* Speaking of, I also really loved that Gentleman’s Guide includes a PoC love interest, a bisexual hero, and a character with a chronic health condition, all of which have also been underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Are there similar themes in your future books?

Mackenzi: Thank you! I’ve been generally frustrated with the lack of diversity in historical fiction, and non-fiction narratives. We use “historical accuracy” as an excuse for not including characters with marginalized identities in historical fiction, or we often make them tortured side characters (especially the queer ones). And it’s not that the narratives don’t exist–I read a lot of primary sources from black, chronically ill, and queer people in England in the 1700s. They were there! We just erase them and instead keep telling the story of the straight white guys.

And I’ve been trying really hard to not be part of that problem! I don’t feel like a lot of these narratives are mine to tell, since I’m a white lady, but I try to do what I can to include minority characters in my historical fiction and nonfiction that are more than being tortured outsiders.  

As far as future books, I have an anthology of my Bygone Badass Broads essays coming out next year [Editor’s note: #BygoneBadassBroads is Mackenzi’s Twitter series about forgotten badass ladies from history], and I made an effort (which my publisher was hugely supportive of) to make sure we were including marginalized women and their stories. And my next book is about sexuality and gender identity and set in the 1600s in Holland.

Moog: It’s wonderful to hear that your publisher was so supportive! Your upcoming books both sound amazing. Felicity from Gentleman’s Guide  is 100% a Bygone Badass Broad, right? Which of the Bygone Broads do you think would get on best with her and/or best form a terrifying alliance with her to change the face of medicine forever?

Mackenzi: Thank you! Bygone Badass Broads was a true passion project for me, and to see it take off the way it has has been both surprising and incredibly rewarding. Of the Bygone Badass Broads I’ve featured, I think Felicity would pair best with Mary Anning, the paleontologist in 1700s England, or Clelia Duel Mosher, the American physician in the turn of the century who helped dispel myths about female fragility. They’re all three science minded and independent (neither Mary nor Clelia ever married). I think the three of them would make a kick ass science girl squad.  

Moog: I would 100% read that book! If you were suddenly confined to a desert island and, for some archaic island reason, you could only take queer historical books (of any sub-genre) with you, which would be the first three books you packed?

Mackenzi: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (not on-page queerness, but you can definitely do a really solid queer reading of it, and it’s my favorite book in the world so I’m bending the rules for it)

Moog: Your desert island would have the best tiny library! Thanks again for being here, Mackenzi <3 Chatting queer historical has been glorious. As a last note: three random quick-fire questions! Weirdest home decoration you own?

Mackenzi: My dad made me a to-scale mechanical arm for the This Monstrous Thing trailer, which now functions as a charming table ornament in my apartment.

Moog: How do you take your tea (or hot beverage of your choice)?

Mackenzi: Fruity. I’m generally disinclined to tea, but I love fruit teas, which are not as commonly available in most places as I want them to be. But I was just on a research trip in Holland and they serve fruit tea at almost every restaurant! I’ve never been so delighted.

Moog: What are you reading right now?

Mackenzi: Oh gosh too many things–I’ve been picking up and putting down a dozen books a day lately. At this moment, I’m deep in Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Undercover Girl: The Lesbian Informant who Helped Bring Down the Communist Party by Lisa E. Davis.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is published by HarperCollins and is released on June 27 2017.

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Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Crixeo, The Friend, and The Newport Review, among others.  Her debut novel, THIS MONSTROUS THING, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, is out now from HarperCollins. Her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a queer spin on the classic adventure novel, will be released in June of 2017.

She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home, where she works as an independent bookstore manager.

Moog Florin is a writer, blogger, and lacker of balance. She lives in London with her wife (lovely) and an octopus (stuffed), and can be found blogging into the void about books, stickers, and queer romance at MM Florin Writes. You can also find Moog on Twitter: @MM_Florin

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Spotlight on New Adult: Abroad, book 1 by Liz Jacobs

Want a book that will blow you away with its rich characterization and fun, quirky cast of characters? A coming of age story that is honest and cringe-worthy, uber sexy and delightfully naive, and all gorgeously told by a fresh new voice in queer fiction?

I HAVE THE BOOK FOR YOU!

Debut author, Liz Jacobs, is set to take the book world by storm. Her first book is a lushly told coming of age story featuring a queer Jewish immigrant who moves to the UK to spend a semester abroad. What happens there changes him forever. So sit back…relax…and get ready to one click… Read More

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Shelter the Sea by Heidi Cullinan: Spotlight and Excerpt

Heidi Cullinan is ready to revisit the fantastic world she created in Carry the Ocean with its sequel, Shelter the Sea, out tomorrow! I ADORED Carry the Ocean (did you read my glowing review of it? No? READ IT NOW, I’LL WAIT!). It’s a wonderful, nuanced contemporary NA featuring an austic man named Emmet as he deals with the ups and downs of his first relationship. It’s tender, sweet, sexy, and filled with the sort of gorgeous writing we expect from Heidi.

To celebrate the long anticipated release of this sequel, we have a first chapter excerpt to get you as excited as we are! So here you have it: Shelter the Sea, Chapter 1…

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Authors in Audio on 10/17: Santino Hassell and Karen Stivali talk it all!

karen-and-santino-a-in-a-for-b-on-b-long-version

Hello! And welcome back to Authors in Audio, a podcast special at Binge on Books which features authors Santino Hassell and Karen Stivali answering reader questions in audio! You asked and they answered and through the end of the year, this new series of Authors in Audio will captivate you!

So sit back, relax, and get ready for Santino Hassell and Karen Stivali in…Authors in Audio, 2016 Week 2!



author photo Karen Stivali 2015

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Connect with Karen in all the places: 

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Website

Pinterest  |  Goodreads

You can hear Karen and writing pal, Santino Hassell, in audio in earlier recordings of their podcast series, Authors in Audio!


Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino: 

Web | Facebook | Twitter

Patreon | Goodreads | Amazon

You can hear Santino and writing pal, Karen Stivali, in audio in earlier recordings of their podcast series, Authors in Audio!


 

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Spotlight Post: The Starving Years by Jordan C Price

Psst! Today’s Spotlight features one of my most favorite Urban Fantasy Authors doing what she does best: giving you awesome books…for free! That’s right FOR FREE. But let me break it down for you:

Who: macabre Queen of Urban Fantasy, Jordan C Price!

What: The Starving Years, her MMM Dystopian Romance:

starving yearsImagine a world without hunger.

In 1960, a superfood was invented that made starvation a thing of the past. Manna, the cheaply manufactured staple food, is now as ubiquitous as salt in the world’s cupboards, pantries and larders.

Nelson Oliver knows plenty about manna. He’s a food scientist—according to his diploma, that is. Lately, he’s been running the register at the local video rental dive to scrape together the cash for his outrageously priced migraine medication.

In a job fair gone bad, Nelson hooks up with copywriter Javier and his computer-geek pal Tim, who whisks them away from the worst of the fiasco in his repurposed moving truck. At least, Nelson thinks those two are acquainted, but they’re acting so evasive about it, he’s not sure how they know each other, exactly. Javier is impervious to Nelson’s flirting, and Tim’s name could appear in the dictionary under the entry for “awkward.” And with a riot raging through Manhattan and yet another headache coming on, it doesn’t seem like Nelson will get an answer anytime soon.

One thing’s for sure, the tension between the three of them is thick enough to cut with a knife…even one of those dull plastic dealies that come in the package with Mannariffic EZ-Mealz.

When: now through April 8th

Where: Amazon

How: Do you read in Mobi? Or are you a Kindle Unlimited user? Yes? No? Get on it…now! For a limited time, JCP’s groundbreaking book, The Starving Years, will be free for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Get it, devour it, and then go on to read all of her amazing urban fantasy reads and then demand why you never did it before!

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Clouded Hell Blog Tour: Reader Inspired Q&A with J.R. Gray

It’s no secret that I adore J.R. Gray, as an author and a person. He’s an enigmatic character and comes up with some of the HOTTEST books on the scene. His newest is out on March 23rd and, well, you’ve seen that cover, right? …RIGHT?! No? Well, even if you have I’m posting it again ’cause I just cannot get enough!

CloudedHellFINAL

If you’re like me, I’m absolutely certain you want more of this book (and that cover! And most of all, Gray!)….and I have got what you need. In anticipation of Clouded Hell’s release, Gray recently asked his Facebook group, The Gray Pack, to throw out any questions they may have for him. What they asked was an awesome mix of personal, craft, and Clouded Hell exclusives and Gray answers…even the dirty ones.

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Author Chat with Binge on Books: Amy Jo Cousins!

binge-on-books-podcast-amy-joIt’s time for a little Author Chat with Binge on Books! Today, I am ecstatic to welcome Amy Jo Cousins to the site for our November Podcast/Interview where we talk new releases, upcoming secret projects, CASH(!), and Amy Jo’s Top Three Books of all time plus she reads an extremely sexy excerpt from one of her newest releases! So what are you waiting for? Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, and come listen in on Judith and Amy Jo… Read More

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How We Began Anthology Giveaway Extravaganza!

How We Began AnthologyHow We Began by Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Geonn Cannon

Available on: Amazon

Release Day Extravaganza Organized by: Liz

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this anthology a few weeks back, and after I finished it, I felt like I was in a bit of a daze and also floating on the happiest bubble into a rainbow. This collection of stories, the proceeds from which are all going to benefit The Trevor Project, felt almost monumental to me. Some stories are bigger in scope than others, but all are so human and touching and every single one of them is affirming in a way I wish I could have had when I was in high school.

So, we thought about how best to showcase this wonderful anthology, and decided that hey, a giveaway is a beautiful thing. A TRIPLE giveaway? Even better. All money goes to charity? Sound the trumpets!

It’s time for an Extravaganza!

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Author Spotlight: Ginn Hale reading an excerpt of Servant of Shadow

Hello, all! So if you haven’t realized (or haven’t read my post on the subject, FOR SHAME) October is Queer Romance Month! Hooray! Queer Romance Month is a celebration of love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. There are over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies with essays, flash-fiction and much, much more. If you haven’t gone to check it out, I highly suggest you do so now: www.queerromancemonth.com

Now, many of your favorite blogs are hosting exclusive content from Queer Romance Month contributors as part of this celebration. And do I have a treat for you. Today on Binge on Books, we have one of my personal favorites with us: Ginn Hale! Yes, Ginn Hale, the amazing author of the Rifter Series and contributor to the Charmed and Dangerous anthology is here reading from her current Work-In-Progress, Servant of Shadows (the third set of books in the Cadeleonian series)!

Read all about Servant of Shadows here: Elezar Grunito has fled his homeland—a hunted man intent on carrying out the vital diplomatic mission that will redeem him. But in Labara he faces creatures of myth and magic far more dangerous than anything he’s faced in Cadeleon. Complicating matters further is the wily street witch, Skellan, whose courage and passion threaten to unravel all of Elezar’s ambitions.

And now listen to this exclusive excerpt:

 

Sounds so very enticing, no? Now, go follow Ginn everywhere and fall in love with her and her gorgeous writing:

tiny-ginnGinn Hale lives with her lovely wife and indolent cats in the Pacific Northwest. She spends the many rainy days tinkering with devices and words. Her first novel, Wicked Gentlemen, won the Spectrum Award for best novel. Her most recent publications include the Lord of the White Hell, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf and The Rifter trilogy: The Shattered Gates, The Holy Road and His Sacred Bones. Her novella Things Unseen and Deadly appears in the Irregulars Anthology, while Swift and the Black Dog appears in Charmed and Dangerous.

Find Ginn in all the places: Website | Twitter | Facebook

This exciting, honest-to-goodness piece of multi-media content is brought to you in support of Queer Romance Month. 

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90s Playlist Anthology: Review, Q&A, and killer playlist from all the authors!

Tomorrow is the release day of a truly nostalgia-inducing new book, the ’90s Playlist: A Romance Rewind AnthologyThis ’90s Playlist features stories from: Brighton Walsh, Lorelie Brown, Amy Jo Cousins, Audra North, Rebecca Grace Allen, and Jennifer Blackwood and with so many amazing contributors? It is sure to wow you from page one. To celebrate the release, we’ve got a review, a cool Q&A with Erin and ALL of the contributors as well as a 90s playlist featuring songs picked by the authors themselves. So sit back, relax, and get ready to head back…to the 90s!

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