Between the Sheets with Mackenzie Cartwright
Romance Narrators: You're an NYC gal. Give us some of the highs and lows of living in that great city. Also, care to share any secret spots where Mackenzie Cartwright likes to hang?
Mackenzie: NYC has a place for every feeling. If you're feeling like getting a hit of energy, there's no place like Grand Central Station. Stare at all the people meeting each other by the clock in the middle. Then go buy yourself some perfume at Jo Malone's and enjoy a Devil's Mocha cupcake at Magnolia Bakery.
When I'm feeling thoughtful (and especially when I am listening to an audiobook) I also love to wander through Brooklyn...the Cobble Hill neighborhood is beautiful with the cobblestone streets and the brownstones..and I like to stroll along the waterfront there. And nothing beats a good old-fashioned late night diner. They're disappearing, but you can pry the full-sour pickles out of my cold dead hands!
Romance Narrators: Wow. You may be able to add tour guide to your many talents. You've been known to people watch - or shall we say "people listen" - and weave some of the characters you meet into your narrations. Tell us about a recent discovery who made it into one of your audiobooks.
Mackenzie: It was a woman, early 20s, sitting by herself in Washington Square Park on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is outside in good weather on a Sunday afternoon, with friends, family, kids running around, street performers busking, people in new relationships soaking up that last bit of togetherness before the workweek begins....and she was all by herself. Writing in a notebook. I thought, this girl has been thru something. She was chewing the end of her pencil and looking dreamily at the fountain. She was the only person there who was literally by herself.... besides me, ha! but she was so absorbed with dreaming or thinking that she seemed to be the only person there. It was as if she was about to meet the love of her life but he hadn't shown up yet, and she was waiting for him. She's definitely the inspiration for a heroine in one of my audiobooks.
Romance Narrators: You traveled a great deal as a child. Has that been a boon for you accent work? Do you still find time to travel as an adult?
Mackenzie: Traveling is in my blood. It taught me fearlessness and our common humanity. People all over the world enjoy similar things - although we have our differences (I hid my eyes during a bullfight in Spain and I couldn't quite look some of the large fish in Hokkaido markets in the eye!) but you can always get to know people (and listen to their awesome accents) while enjoying cafes, beautiful weather, and great food. There's always a way to bond with other people when you're curious about their culture. And if you share a meal with someone, you're good to go! I try to travel once every season. My bag is always packed. Favorite accents include Northern English, Irish, and give me a good Russian accent any day. Why does it sound both dangerous and alluring?
Romance: It’s that rolling “Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Do you have a favorite romance trope? Friends to lovers? Marriage of Convenience? Country Girl in the Big City?
Mackenzie: Girl, I love me some big-city-gal-finds-herself-in-the-country. Fish out of water romances. I love it when the street-smart city slicker gets knocked on her ass by being on a farm and the local hunk takes an interest. I love huge changes and transformations in my heroines! I also love people who have been damaged by love and loss who find each other.
Romance Narrators: Speaking of travel and tropes... you just had an experience in Joshua Tree that sounds like the spark for a good romance novel. Do tell us all what happened.
Mackenzie: I was driving a little coupe in the heat of summer around Joshua Tree, CA heading toward Landers. Passing little towns, my GPS couldn't find a signal and to this day I'm not exactly sure where I was. Suddenly my temperature gauge starts rising and before I know it there's this sputtering sound from the engine and I have to pull over. It's summer- 106 degrees (I remember that part) and I had no signal to call roadside assistance. You know how hot it gets in a car with no air conditioning on a 106-degree day? Sweating buckets. I think I was sweating from my eyebrows it was so hot. After a few minutes I see this cloud of dust in my rearview mirror and it's a pickup truck pulling up behind me. I have my hand wrapped around my key ring and I'm trying to control my breathing and up walks this guy, very slow, you know, like he doesn't want to frighten me, and then he comes up to my window and leans over and says "what seems to be the trouble" like in the freaking movies and I kind of stammer about the temperature gauge and he figures it's the radiator and do I have any radiator fluid in the car? Well because I am always prepared--hell no, I don't have radiator fluid in my car (!!!), and he says "you should always have some radiator fluid in your car in the summer in the desert" and I stammer some more and he goes to get some of his. I'm freaking out that he could be an axe murderer but he just fills up my radiator fluid and we get to chatting about the area and turns out he's on vacation visiting his cousin and he tells me about this fantastic roadhouse with live music in Pioneertown. He smiles and tips his hat and I try NOT to think of Brad Pitt as the drifter stealing the girls' money in Thelma and Louise but he disappears in a cloud of dust up the road and just like that he's gone.
Romance Narrators: That was juicy. Someone start writing that book, ASAP! Talk to us about your work with Evangeline Anderson. You collaborate quite a bit! What do you think makes you a good fit for one another?
Mackenzie: Evangeline has many styles but she's always funny, and her heroes are incredibly hot. That makes for a great recipe. I've finished recording the first Swann Sisters book, Wishful Thinking, which involves, of all things, a real life fairy godmother and a very handsome hero except we don't always know he's the hero, you know what I mean? I love Evangeline's work from the Alien Mate series to the Born to Darkness series and all the standalones in between.
Romance Narrators: We hear you've been known to skinny dip in hotel pools at 3am. Truth or fiction?
Mackenzie: Here's the thing about security footage at 3am in a hotel pool from a bad angle. It's grainy and hard to see and guess what? THEY CAN'T TELL IT'S YOU. Just sayin...
Romance Narrators: Haha! Ok, say we wanted a good recipe for... oh, I dunno... Devils on Horseback... could you give us one?
Mackenzie: I ate this amazing appetizer at the Ace Hotel's diner, King's Highway and I love the name and the taste too. Basically it's bacon-wrapped dates, served on a little bed of arugula (so you can feel virtuous eating your veggies) and ricotta cheese, and drizzled with a little date malt vinegar. I don't know where the heck you get date malt vinegar but I'm gonna try to recreate some of that desert magic in my little kitchen when it's cloudy out and I need some sunshine.
Devils on Horseback (sounds like a good name for a romance novel hmmmmm.)
You need: dates, bacon slices, arugula, ricotta cheese, and toasted almond slices (optional). Also Toothpicks, foil, paper towels and your appetite ;)
1.Heat the oven to 500°F.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
3. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick. Place the dates at least 1 inch apart on a cooling rack.
Bake for 7 minutes, then flip the dates with tongs and continue to bake until crispy, about 7 to 9 minutes more.
Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Cool slightly before serving. Serve on a bed of arugula and ricotta cheese and sprinkle with toasted almond slices.
Romance Narrators: Running to the kitchen! But before we go, what exciting audiobook projects do you have on the horizon?
Mackenzie: The second book in the Swann Sisters series by Evangeline Anderson- the title is Be Careful What You Wish For. I loved recording the first and can't wait for the second. Just released was Tessa Bailey's Follow, which I narrated with the amazing & brand new James Larceny.
Romance Narrators: Where can people keep up with you online?
I love connecting on Twitter: @xoxoMackenzieC
Links to people mentioned in interview:
Evangeline Anderson: evangelineanderson.com
Tessa Bailey: https://www.tessabailey.com
Ace Hotel Palm Springs: https://www.acehotel.com/palmsprings
Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, CA: https://www.pappyandharriets.com
Devils on Horseback more detailed recipe: https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/devils-on-horseback-29172
How To Stop an Engine from Overheating: https://www.wikihow.com/Stop-an-Engine-from-Overheating