Saturday, August 5, 2017

0 MacKenzie Cadenhead, author of SLEEPER, on the most important step of writing being to actually write

We're delighted to have MacKenzie Cadenhead stop by to chat about her latest novel, SLEEPER.

MacKenzie, what was your inspiration for writing SLEEPER?

I am a big dreamer. I used to talk in my sleep and there was at least one sleepwalking event in my childhood that still weirds me out. I’ve always found sleep fascinating – particularly the unknown aspects of it. When I read an article in the New York Times Magazine back in 2003 about parasomnias that included R.E.M. Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), I knew that someday I wanted to explore this affliction that caused people to physically act out their dreams while they slept. What happened in the dreams? How did it manifest in the waking world? Who, beyond the dreamer, did this enactment affect? What were the daytime consequences of what the dreamer had involuntarily done in his/her sleep? There were so many questions to explore and so many levels of culpability for a protagonist to grapple with that the possibilities felt endless.

What do you hope readers will take away from SLEEPER?

That you always have a choice. Even after you’ve maybe made some bad decisions, there’s always the opportunity to change the path you’re on. That’s not to say that you won’t have to deal with uncomfortable consequences or that changing things up will be easy – generally change is frustratingly hard. But I believe you are ultimately the boss of you – warts, happily ever afters and all. Pretty much everything I write reflects that.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

When my first book, Sally’s Bones, was published, a friend jokingly said to me, “You know, I could write a book. If only I’d pick up a pen.” For my money, the first and most important step of writing is to actually write. Not that I’m suggesting it’s easy. Writing is often painful and slow-going. You sometimes hate your own words and there are weeks when you feel like you no longer know how to form a sentence. But if you push through and write that sh*++y first draft (as Anne Lamott calls it) then you have something to work with, to edit and mold into the book you will someday put out there for others to see. But none of that can happen until you actually sit down and put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard.

What are you working on now?

I am currently co-writing a series of young reader chapter books for Marvel Press called Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures. The first four books are team up adventures featuring Spider-Man and a super-powered friend (Spider-Gwen, Squirrel Gil) battling a classic villain. The first one comes out in September and I’ve had a total blast writing them.


by MacKenzie Cadenhead
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 8/1/2017

Sarah’s dreams are everyone else’s nightmares in this thriller that perfectly combines Inception and Heathers.

As a sufferer of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Sarah acts out her dreams. Usually she's only a danger to herself, but when she almost breaks her best friend's neck at a sleepover, Sarah becomes a social pariah. Luckily (and stangely), Wes, a guy she's only seen in her dreams, turns up at school and the two become inseparable.

An experimental drug offers a cure, but she and Wes soon realize that not only are they sharing the same dreams, they can now alter other people's dreams. It's clear that this new drug is offering a lot more than just sleep. Will Wes and Sarah choose responsibility…or revenge?

Purchase Sleeper at Amazon
Purchase Sleeper at IndieBound
View Sleeper on Goodreads


MacKenzie Cadenhead was born and raised in New York City, where she mastered her driver's ed lessons in Chinatown, but somehow never learned to ride a bike. After trying her hand at a number of odd jobs—holiday gift wrapper, tour guide, pizza delivery person, waitress at IHOP—she spat in the face of employability by delivering the one-two punch of a BA in English (Haverford College) and a Masters in Dramaturgy (Brooklyn College). Thanks to a case of mistaken identity (or to her interviewer being too embarrassed to admit that he didn't know what a dramaturg was), she was hired as a comic book editor for Marvel Comics. At Marvel she developed new content for young and teen readers, including the all-ages Marvel Adventures line, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Spellbinders, and Runaways, an ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, 2006. (Check them out—they're great!)

These days she writes children's books and reads them to her family, most notably her dog, Smudge. Her middle-grade novel, Sally's Bones, and her Young Adult novel, Sleeper, are both currently available wherever books are sold. Her early chapter book for kids, Deck the Malls!, will be available from Marvel on September 5th.


Have you had a chance to read SLEEPER yet? Have you been inspired by an article you read years ago? Are you able to push through and write that sh*++y first draft? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Sam, Martina, Emily, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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