Welcome! This week’s Friday56 and Book Beginnings on Fridays’ choice is…
HOT NEWS! In a competitive situation, Paramount Television Studios has landed the rights to develop a television series based on Catherine McKenzie’s recently released thriller novel You Can’t Catch Me. McKenzie will serve as an executive producer on the project, along with Broken Road Productions’ Todd Garner and Spencer Walken. You Can’t Catch Me was just published on June 9 by Lake Union.
Source : Deadline.com
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Luv Sassy X
“You’d better run.”
The way she emphasises the word run snaps me out of my haze.
You Can’t Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie is a psychological thriller where deception is the name of the game. The central theme of the story is identity theft with a side story involving cults. Although readers might think these two do not connect, McKenzie does a wonderful job tying them together.
The story opens with Jessica Williams in an airport bar waiting for her flight. She meets a stranger with the same name and birthday as hers. They play a game of twenty questions, finding what they have in common. But this also allows each other to know private information. To make matters worse, Jessica has posted on social media her life and travel plans. A few days later she realizes her identity has been stolen and her bank accounts have been emptied. Feeling that her life has been taken from her again, she sets out to settle the score with Jessica Two. Along the way, she meets other Jessica Williams, who have also been swindled. Together they plot to draw out Jessica Two and get back their lives and money.
The sub-plot has Jessica escaping from a cult with the help of private investigator Liam, who ends up being her boyfriend. At the age of eighteen she has left her family and a dear friend, Kiki. The story goes back and forth between her time in the cult and twelve years later, after she meets Jessica Two.
This story has a life lesson, BEWARE OF STRANGERS. The author wastes no time getting readers hooked from the very first chapter with her creative and unique plots.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Catherine McKenzie: I have a friend who I dedicated this book to. I live in Canada and travel a lot. Because my friend has a very common name we kept getting stopped at the US border. Someone with a similar name and the same birthday was wanted by the police. Over time we were able to discern that the person the police were after is a man. The border guards even suggested she change her name even though she did nothing wrong.
EC: Did you personally ever encounter anything like your plot?
CM: I was at a book signing in Kentucky. A woman asked me my middle name. I thought that was weird until she told me we had the exact same name, spelled the same way. We even looked somewhat alike. It occurred to me that someone could steal a person’s money because they were not stealing someone’s identity. They were the same person on paper. This was the starting point for the book.
EC: There are also warnings about social media?
CM: I use it because I am an author. I always make sure whatever I put on there no one knows exactly where I am. I post a few days later, after leaving that location. I am wary, because I did for a period of time have a stalker, which made me ultra-cautious. Part of being an author is seeing the world we live in and what people are doing.
EC: What about the cults?
CM: I have always been fascinated by cults. I have done deep dives into Scientology and watched many documentaries on cults. I even know two people who were brought up in cults. They left when they became adults.
EC: How would you describe Jessica?
CM: Distrustful, curious, reckless, and tough. She is not intimidated and is a bit of an iconoclast who likes to buke authority. Jessica has a strong sense of right and wrong, and wants justice.
EC: How would you describe Liam?
CM: A strong supporting character for Jessica. He helped her to have a backstory. I like flipping on its head that the man is just the love interest.
EC: How would you describe Jessica II?
CM: She feels the world has short-shifted her and blames others for her problems.
EC: How would you describe JJ?
CM: A woman who writes for a website, “A Novel Bee,” challenged authors to write disabled characters. I thought she is right. Also, after watching the show “Meateater” I saw a cook who was an army veteran, a one-handed chef. He is so positive and interesting. I borrowed that person for JJ. Her disability did not define who she is and she never wants to be defined by it.
EC: It was interesting how you portrayed parents in cults?
CM: The ultimate responsibility of a parent is to keep their children safe. A common thread is that cult parents probably start out with good intentions. They don’t join a group thinking they will turn into puppets. What does happen is that they eventually give over their autonomy to the leader. This leader becomes the parent over the adults and children. Part of what happens is the seduction of the parent. The leader is also usually the abuser.
EC: There was a funny scene about packing a suitcase-is that you?
CM: I have systems in place to keep myself from forgetting stuff. I pack in phases where I do laundry, overpack, and then take it all out and fold it. I have a specific backpack with all the different charging cords for my devices so I do not forget them. It only took me five years to have a routine.
EC: Are you a Mets fan like the characters?
CM: No, I was an Expos fan. I don’t have a team anymore. I got very angry at baseball in 1994 because the Expos were in the lead when the strike happened. I hear that players and owners are arguing over money today. My reaction, ‘boo-hoo-hoo.’
EC: Wyoming plays a pivotal setting role?
CM: I love it there. I started going to Jackson Hole ten years ago to attend a book conference. It is one of the most beautiful places. The scenes in the book where I describe the landscape is all real since I did camp out there. I also went on a paddleboard in the lake and found that the opposite end is woodsy. The way I describe it is the way it is.
EC: Next book?
CM: I only write stand-alones and do not write series. The working title of the next book is Six Weeks to Live. It is about a woman who finds out she has six weeks to live. She was poisoned and tries to find the murderer before she dies.
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