It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!

February 2017

It's a Mystery, Pig Face!

Telegraph Journal Interview

 

I’ve been interviewed by New Brunswick’s Provincial Newspaper, The Telegraph Journal about It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! and my journey to publication!

 

 

Here’s the article:

From deputy minister to children’s author

Wendy McLeod MacKnight worked for the Government of New Brunswick for 25 years. Then one day, she decided to start over and follow her childhood dream of writing books. This week, her first children’s book will be released, just in time for the inaugural St. Stephen StoryFest.

By Emily Baron Cadloff

Wendy MacKnight’s sister Margaret McLeod, from left, her friend Barb Doyle who still lives in St. Stephen, Wendy MacKnight, and her brother Patrick McLeod (along with Charlie the dog). Patrick and Charlie are in the book.

 
The author’s view from her desk. PHOTO: WENDY MCLEOD MACKNIGHT

Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s working space at her home in Fredericton. PHOTO: WENDY MCLEOD MACKNIGHT

Wendy McLeod MacKnight worked for the Government of New Brunswick for 25 years, eventually reaching the post of deputy minister in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. PHOTO: MARY ELLEN NEALIS

 

It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! The tale follows friends Tracy and Ralph, with Tracy’s younger brother Lester, with the unfortunate nickname of Pig Face, tagging along. PHOTO: SUBMITTED

 

Wendy McLeod MacKnight wrote her first book when she was nine years old. Complete with illustrations, the novel was set in an apartment, perched atop a laundromat in New York City.
“I’d never been to New York City,” MacKnight recalled with a booming laugh.“I always knew I wanted to write books, and I always wanted to write children’s books.”
So she wrote. MacKnight wrote stories throughout her childhood and teen years, and into her 20s. But as she got older, there were more obstacles in the way.
“People were telling me at the time ‘Nobody ever makes a living as an author,’” MacKnight said.“I just thought, maybe it’s just not going to happen for me.”
Instead, MacKnight entered a career as far away from being a children’s author as you might think. For 25 years, she worked for the Government of New Brunswick, eventually reaching the post of deputy minister in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. While she liked the job, she had an epiphany, one sad afternoon in the fall of 2012.
MacKnight sat at her dying father’s bedside, and had a flash. Life is so short, and so precious. Why was she spending her time not chasing her dream?
“I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. It was never fully aligned. And the things I loved best about being a civil servant were the times I got to be really creative and imaginative,”MacKnight explained. “I just thought, (life) just goes in the blink of an eye. And I have not done what I wanted to do, so I tendered my resignation.”
At the age of 50, MacKnight screwed up her courage and dove head first into a new career. But instead of starting completely from scratch, she found an old manuscript she had written in her 20s, set in her hometown of St. Stephen.
“It’s a story that is not autobiographical, but is sure as heck is based on me and my neighbourhood and my friends. And it’s about two friends who find a bag of money in a baseball dugout and decide that rather than turn the money in, this is their chance to figure out and solve a mystery,” MacKnight said.“The mystery is probably more about, in the end, friendships, and what does it mean to be a friend and good sister.”
That manuscript became her first novel, It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! The tale follows friends Tracy and Ralph, with Tracy’s younger brother Lester, with the unfortunate nickname of Pig Face, tagging along. Aimed at readers from the ages of nine to 12, MacKnight worked to polish the book for more than a year, before finally landing an agent in 2014.
“I think I was rejected 48 times,” MacKnight said with a chuckle.“OK, if 70 agents turn me down, I’m going to put this book aside…and if that doesn’t work I’m going to just be a retired person.”
But with each rejection, MacKnight took any comments or critiques the agent had, and used them to improve the next round of submissions.
“I would send batches of queries,” MacKnight explained. “Then I would do a lot of revisions, so I was still working on the book, because I would take any advice or critique. That was really important to me, to make it as good as I could.”
After 48 rounds of this, MacKnight signed with a literary agent, and together they worked to get her novel published. Now, nearly 30 years after she first wrote it, the book will be released on Feb. 7 by Sky Pony Press. And not only that, but the novel was chosen to kick off St. Stephen’s inaugural St. Stephen StoryFest, starting the same day the book is released. It’s a lot for the new author to take in.
“It’s a really surreal moment, I have to say,” MacKnight said. ”I was just astounded that they wanted to do that. That was really great.”
The town has already purchased and distributed 500 copies of the novel, so each and every Grade 4 and 5 students in the area will receive his or her own copy. They will read the book together, and work on classroom activities, before gathering at an official book launch at the town civic centre in April.
“There was a reason I loved growing up there. I really loved St. Stephen, they always had a really close community, and they’re really proud, they really celebrate things.”

Love this article and all the pictures they included!

 

 

Author of Children's Literature

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