Guest Post by YA and children’s author C Lee McKenzie on her new middle-grade Alligators Overhead

Today YA and children’s author C L McKenzie joins us to talk about her new middle-grade novel Alligators Overhead. It’s available in paperback
($12.95) and kindle
($2.99), as well as on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords, so no matter what type of book you like to read (paper or ebook) you should be in luck. But first, check out her very cool trailer!

What the Book’s About:
Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren’t your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town’s bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he’s up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn’t the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete’s guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find the witches and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Guest Post by C L McKenzie

So why alligators? People as me that question a lot. I always remember hearing Ray Bradbury’s words when I sit down to write a story. He said, “I start by asking myself ‘What if?’” And so that’s part of how I wrote Alligators Overhead.

What if alligators could fly?

What if witch familiars weren’t cats, but something else? (BTW I’ve been subjected to all kinds of protests from the Federation of Feline Familiars on this issue. But I think I made the right decision by not buckling to their demands and rewriting the book replacing the alligators with the cats.)

All I needed were a couple of kids, some quirky townsfolk and a setting where all of these story elements could come together. I wanted to create an adventure that was a little bit eerie, but a lot fun. I found Pete Riley and his sidekick, Weasel, right away. Then came the “out of practice” witches and the legend of the vanishing mansion. So once I had all my ingredients, I wrote the story.

Here’s how that adventure starts.
Pete chewed on what was left of his right thumbnail, stared up at the round-faced clock above Aunt Lizzie’s desk and watched it tick off his last minutes of freedom. The clapper pulled back and snapped against the brass bell, shaking his morning brain awake, more awake than it wanted to be on the first day of spring break.
His other hand hovered over the chunky, black phone on Aunt Lizzy’s desk. Like
everything in the house it was retro, but today it was a bomb set to explode with a call from Principal Pitt, wiping out his spring vacation, wiping out his allowances, probably wiping out the rest of his life.
Before the phone rang a second time, he sprang out of the chair, knocking it over. He snatched up the receiver, and, with a shaky hand held it to his ear, waiting to hear Principal Pitt’s wheezy voice. Instead a woman said, “Today is the day, Peter Riley.

Hope you’ll follow Pete and his brainac friend, Weasel through their swamp adventure and let me know what you think.

Thanks so much for telling us how you came to write Alligators Overhead; that was interesting! I love the idea of flying alligators and witches. And I enjoyed reading the opening.

Read more about C. Lee McKenzie:

A native Californian, C. Lee McKenzie lives on the edge of a redwood forest with her husband and assorted cats. When she’s not writing or blogging she’s hiking or practicing yoga. She usually writes young adult fiction that deals with contemporary, realistic issues. In Sliding on the Edge (2009) she dealt with cutting, and in The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010) she wrote about a family that loses almost everything and has to rebuild their lives together. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. Lee blogs at WriteGame and her website is

4 Responses to “Guest Post by YA and children’s author C Lee McKenzie on her new middle-grade Alligators Overhead”

  1. C. Lee McKenzie Says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me here today, Cheryl. This is great fun!

  2. Cheryl Rainfield Says:

    You’re very welcome, Lee. Any time.

  3. Cecilia Robert Says:

    I love that first line on the first chapter. I feel Pete’s anxiety as he watches the minutes left of his freedom dwindling away.

  4. C. Lee McKenzie Says:

    Thanks for liking that first line! I think I wrote that about a bazillion times before anyone thought it was a good opening line. Thanks also for stopping in to say hi!

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