Mackenzi Lee, the author of "'The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks," wanted to highlight LGBT people's experience in the 1700s while meaning mentally ill as well. Hence why the book was born.
What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
My newest book is the third in a series, each following a different member of the Montague family on an adventure across 18th-century Europe. When I wrote the first book, "The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue," I wanted it to be both a romantic adventure novel and a book about being queer in the 1700s. The second, "The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy," was similarly a tropey romp, but also about being a woman in the 1700s. And the third one — the last one — "The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks," is about being mentally ill in the 1700s…but with a lot of historical shenanigans thrown in too.
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
Reading with Pride means thoughtfully selecting books by authors and about characters whose experiences don’t just reflect my own as a queer person in the world, but help me broaden my understanding and foster empathy toward others on the LGBT spectrum and their widely varied experiences. It also means finding books that make me proud of who I am, and the community I am a part of.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books and characters?
I want my readers to know that people like them are not just products of the 21st century — queer people have existed for as long as people have existed. They are not alone in their experience, but instead part of a broad, rich history of LGBT people who have not just survived their life, but thrived, and found ways to be with the people they loved.
Which character did you relate to the most and why?
All three of the Montagues have some part of me in them — Monty and I have the same bad coping mechanisms, Felicity and I are both stubborn and a little judgmental, but Adrian and I experience anxiety in the same way. There are places in the narrative where his thought process and mine blur together, and his experience with mental illness and how it affects every other aspect of his life is probably the closest to mine.
What can fans expect from your book?
A lot of adventure, a lot of the Montague siblings finding their way back to each other and learning how to be a family — it was such a fun, unique opportunity to get to check in on these characters almost twenty years after the first book is set. Plus some ghost ships, a pirate city, a cursed spyglass, and a very large pie.
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
I’m writing my third book for Marvel! I have been writing about some of your favorite MCU anti-heroes as teenagers — and, might I add because of the subject of this column, the first book, Loki: Where Mischief Lies features a very queer teenage Loki — and I’m hard at work on the third one. I wish I could tell you who it’s about but…spoilers.