Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Nean McKenzie!

What a thrill to welcome back the marvellous Nean McKenzie with her third exciting middle grade novel (previous titles include, Cryptosight (see our interview here) and Xenoflight); the dangerously captivating time-slip adventure, Timefire. Described as ‘perilous’ and ‘gripping’, Timefire is unputdownable as it thrusts readers into the swells of Australia’s most devastating historical bushfires in a bid to save the legacy of Gilbert Black’s family farm in 2033. Nean McKenzie pours heart, action and suspense into her story with relatable characters we can empathise with, and the true reality of an environmental threat that we can work to protect.

Congratulations, Nean! Timefire is sure to set readers alight! 🙂

About the Author

Nean McKenzie is a children’s writer and optometrist who lives in western Melbourne.
Originally from Bendigo, Nean lived in New Zealand, Europe and North East Africa before returning to Victoria. She lives with her family and a cat called Lemonade who purrs, even when nervous. Nean has had three middle-grade novels out with MidnightSun Publishing: Cryptosight (2019), Xenoflight (2022) and Timefire (2023). She was awarded a Maurice Saxby mentorship in 2016, a fellowship for the KSP Writers Centre for 2023 and has a diploma in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT. When not writing or testing people’s eyes, Nean enjoys running and travelling to interesting places around the world. She also likes bush-walking and reading books, especially those for 8-12-year-olds.

Find Nean McKenzie at her website: NM (neanmckenzie.com)

And on social media at:

Instagram: @Nean McKenzie (@neanmckenziewriter) | Twitter: @Nean McKenzie | Facebook: @Nean McKenzie

Timefire is available for pre-order purchase at Booktopia

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

Timefire by Nean McKenzie (MidnightSun Publishing)

WHAT is it about?

In the scorching summer of 2033, Gilbert Black is accused of being a firebug, just like his mother was thirteen years before. That night a fire starts on his family’s farm. A fire with a tunnel in the centre of it. And that’s when things start to get really weird.

Pulled repeatedly back and forth through time, Gil finds himself at big bushfires from the last two centuries. He searches across the years, determined to unlock the secret to his family’s legacy. Gil can’t change the past but can he learn from it in time to return home and save his family from the biggest inferno ever known?  

What is your favourite part of this book?

My favourite part is the ending when everything (hopefully!) all comes together.

WHEN did you begin writing this book?

I began writing this book at the beginning of 2020 but had this idea in my head for many years.

When is its release / launch date?

Timefire’s publication date is July 1st this year.

The launch is on 13th July at Readings Kids in Carlton at 6.30pm. Book here to attend.

WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

This book was inspired by many summers of bushfires and reading Ash Road by Ivan Southall. When I was a kid I also read every time-travel book I could. My favourite was Tom’s Midnight Garden. I’m also a big Doctor Who fan. So Timefire is a combination of all of these things.

WHY is this book meaningful to you?

This book is set in places I love in Victoria like Redesdale, near where I grew up, Kinglake, Noojee and Fairhaven, where my grandparents had a holiday house (that was burnt down in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983). I’ve also always wondered about the idea of meeting my parents or grandparents when we were the same age – and this story helped me explore that.

Why would its message resonate with readers?

Bushfires (unfortunately) affect every generation so this aspect of the story will be just as applicable to the current youngest generation, as it was to mine and those before. It’s also very much about the universal themes of family and having the courage to be different.

HOW do you feel about the cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

The striking cover design conveys time and fire at once with a burning hour glass. The purple/orange glow is my favourite part giving an ominous sort of feeling. There are also nice details from the story included on the cover. The title font gives a sort of Sci Fi look, suitable for a time slip story set partly in the future.

How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?

Timefire is available from all good bookshops and online. As well as the launch on Thursday 13 July in Carlton, I will doing a signing at Bookish in Bendigo on Saturday 15 July at 10.30am.

More information can be found at my website: www.neanmckenzie.com and on Instagram at neanmckenziewriter.

OTHER information you’d like to share?

‘Timefire is a thrilling page-turner full of intrigue and heart.
A fantastic and absorbing Middle Grade novel.’
Maggie Jankuloska, author of The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice

‘Original, perilous, you can smell the smoke.’
Neridah McMullin

‘A gripping story of time, family – and fire.’
Pamela Rushby

Thanks, Nean! Congratulations and all the best with your intriguing new book, Timefire! 🙂

*With thanks to MidnightSun Publishing for a complimentary copy of the book.

#thequicksixinterview #timefire #bushfires #familylegacy #middlegrade

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