We chatted with author Mackenzi Lee about her latest bestselling and award-winning book, her thoughts on writing historical fiction, what she’s working on next, and more!
Lee is an author of children’s books and young adult novels. She writes both fiction and non-fiction about topics including sexuality and the role of women throughout history. Her debut novel, This Monstrous Thing, was a retelling of the Frankenstein story and won her the Pen-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky picks up where the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue leaves off, with freshly minted couple Monty and Percy fumbling through their first time together. Monty now realizes there is something more nerve-wracking than being chased across Europe: getting together with the person you love. Will the romantic allure of Santorini make his first time with Percy magical, or will all the anticipation and build-up completely spoil the mood?
Check out our full interview below:
1. In November, it was revealed that The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is getting a film adaptation for HBO Max. Are there any details you can share with eager fans?
Almost none! It’s still in very early stages of development and I am usually the last person to know anything!
2. If you could choose, who would you pick to play Monty, Percy, and Felicity?
Honestly I have no idea. The characters are so real in my head that picking actors to play them feels like trying to cast actors to play your friends.
3. Your latest book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky, shines a light on Monty and Percy’s newly-minted romance. What inspired you to continue their story?
Avoiding what I was supposed to be doing! I was working on Lady’s Guide and I got the idea to do a fluffy novella and work I am not supposed to be doing is always so much more appealing than the work I am, so I took a slight diversion to write it.
4. What did you love most about writing this novella?
The pure silliness of it. I got to lean into the slapstick campiness really hard—it’s present in the other two books but it really comes out in the novella. It was also fun to get to explore the early days of Monty and Percy’s romantic relationship and what things have changed between them and how their existing relationship has been altered, for better or worse, by this new layer. Books so often end with the two characters getting together, it was a rare treat to get to think about what happens after that moment.
5. You’ve written a number of historical fiction books. What drew you to this genre and what challenges do you face when retelling history through fiction?
I’ve always loved history because it has always felt like another form of storytelling to me.
6. Why do you think romance stories set in history continue to resonate with today’s young adult readers?
I think, especially when talking about queer love stories in history, it helps queen teens reclaim their own history. So often, we tend to think of sexuality as a new invention, and forget that queer people have existed forever. And very often, the stories of queer people in history that have survived are sad or about how two people couldn’t be together, when in reality, history was full of queer happy couples, and the individual experience was as varied as it is today. Showing teens the range of queer love stories in history can help them feel more connected to their history, and, even more basic, show them they have one. As long as there have been people there have been queer people, and as long as there have been queer people, there have been happy queer relationships and love stories.
7. What’s the most important thing to consider when writing historical fiction?
The balance between staying true to history and keeping your story and characters relatable to modern readers.
8. The third and final book of the Montague Siblings series, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, is coming out next year. What can readers expect from this finale?
The book takes place almost twenty years after Lady’s Guide, so you’ll get to see where Monty, Percy, and Felicity have ended up in life and what they’ve done with themselves as adults. You also get to meet their little brother Adrian, aka the Goblin, who is now a teenager, and looking for his lost siblings. There’s more of the same shenanigans as the first two books, more history with a touch of magic, and lots of Montague siblings feelings.
9. What’s the most unexpected thing to happen to you since starting the series?
Sitting next to my audiobook narrator, the incredibly talented Christian Coulson, aka Hot Tom Riddle from the second Harry Potter movie, at the launch for Gent’s Guide as he read the infamous Monty Streaking at Versailles scene to a room full of fans….and my mom.
10. What’s next for you after the series ends?
I’m writing a series for Marvel! The first book came out last year—Loki: Where Mischief Lies. The other two books will center around other anti-heroes in the Marvel Universe as teenagers. My twelve-year-old self is freaking out that I am writing for Marvel. Dreams come true!
Shop for her great reads in NBS today!
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