The Forger and the Thief by Kirsten McKenzie.

Genre: Historical thriller (with a small hint of paranormal)

Tour Dates: 31st October – 6th November 2020

Publication Date: 31st July 2020

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count: 324

FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.

A little summary:

PIN MEE!

Buy Now: Amazon.

A wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence’s devastating flood of November 1966.

In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?

Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…

Get to know the author:

•When and how do you start your day? What do you do to prepare yourself for a day of writing?

I start by getting everyone out of bed and ready for school. Only after they’ve left the house do I sit down with a coffee to scroll through the internet. Then after a shower and another coffee, I lug my laptop, my cell phone, my old-school diary, notebook and my favourite pen upstairs to my office, which also doubles as the spare room. Although, in the time of COVID, no one has visited for a very long time!

I constantly jot notes down in my trusty notebook of the day (at the moment it’s a Harry Potter themed notebook). And I’d be lost without it. I also check the sales figures from the say before. With a new book out – The Forger and the Thief, I am constantly checking to see whether any of the Netgalley reviewers have posted their reviews. I always read my reviews, on Amazon and Goodreads, and all the other digital platforms. They often provide useful feedback for my next book.

•How often or how long do you spend in a day writing and how does it fit into your schedule?

I write when my children are at school. I would love to be able to write after dinner in the evenings, but there is too much going on at home. I don’t listen to music, and I hate the sound of construction or road works (invariably they are going on somewhere near me). Weirdly, I write very well at cafes.

I think that’s more because I worry people will think I’m odd if they see me staring off into the distance with an open laptop in front of me. I’m not a plotter, I wish I was though. I write as it comes to me. And I edit later. I don’t spend too much time actually writing. I know I can do 324 words in a ten minute word sprint. So if I am on a deadline, I know I can churn out a thousand words pretty quickly. They might not be fancy words, but you have to have something to edit.

I don’t tend to do more than a thousand words a day. There are a hundred other author related things I have to do apart from the actual writing. Promoting The Forger and the Thief is taking up most of my time at the moment, but I also have a backlist of five other books, who also need my attention. Especially my other thrillers – Doctor Perry and Painted. I expect readers to give those books a try after reading The Forger and the Thief, if they liked it of course!

•Who is your favorite author and what have you learned from him or her.

My favourite male author is Stephen King. Primarily for the way he weaves in ordinary people, and thrusts them into extraordinary circumstances. My favourite female author is Deborah Harkness, who wrote ‘A Discovery of Witches’. I never thought I would love a book about witches and vampires and demons as much as I love her series.

But it’s more to do with how she incorporates historical fact into her stories. That I love. Which was one of the reasons for choosing the historical backdrop of the 1966 Florence floods for The Forger and the Thief. I enjoyed researching the 1966 fashions, and football teams and the technology of the time.

•What was the worst mistake you made in your journey and how will aspiring writers prevent the same from happening to them?

I had a very disastrous divorce from my first publisher, the original publisher of Fifteen Postcards. In hindsight, our breakup was the best thing that happened. But if I had kept a better eye on my contracts and my royalties and had had a proper understanding of how publishing works, I would never have signed with them in the first place.

Having said that, the experience taught me a lot about contracts and royalties and sales of rights. You only make those mistakes once. It was an invaluable experience. Always take legal advice before signing anything.


Fifteen Postcards, and its two sequels The Last Letter and Telegram Home have since been reeditied and republished with a new publisher and new genre specific covers. They constantly rank well in the Time Travel genre, and lead to a deal with Podium Audio and all three books are now available as audio books.

•What does success look like to you in this position? What new projects are you working on and when should we be expecting them?

Success to me at the moment is that I am making the same income now as I was when I was working full time as a Customs Officer. I’m not making millions, but I am making a full time salary. And that is a great position to be in, especially given how 2020 is panning out…
I am currently working on the first book in my new time travel trilogy – Ithaca Bound. I expect that to be published at the end of April 2021.

•What should we expect from your newest book – The Forger and the Thief?

You should expect to meet an ensemble cast of five strangers as they find their way around Florence, unaware that further up the Arno Valley, a disaster is heading their way. With a dash of paranormal, the strangers become entwined in a web woven by an art forger and his associates, dragging everyone into a watery confrontation. The Arno River itself become a character in the story, adding to the ominous disaster, lapping at their feet.

•How did you develop the plot for that story and what cherished memories did you make while writing it?

On a family trip to Italy one December, we stumbled upon a photography exhibition commemorating the 1966 floods. So many people rushed to help salvage the damaged books and art, that I couldn’t help but consider how easy it must have been for someone to spirit away a piece of art or a valuable manuscript.

I’d been held up at gunpoint in our family antique shop in Auckland a few years before our trip to Italy, and that experience, plus the photos we saw of Italy’s treasures being moved by hundreds of volunteers, really lead to the development of the plot.

I loved the research I did for The Forger and the Thief. Reading about real art forgers, and the blackmarket that exists today. The “stolen to order” market as well. There really is a dark underbelly in the world of wealthy art owners who treasures never see the light of day.

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