McKenzie joined the INCLUDAS team as the Summer 2023 Book Launch Intern. We are so excited to have her with us!
What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
My ability to listen to people. I really pride myself in being intentional in my interactions with other people, connecting with them, and being present in the best way I can.
What’s the most significant thing that’s influenced you as a person?
It may be cheesy to say, but I think books are the biggest thing that’s influenced me. I have always been a very avid reader, and that has always made a big impact on my life.
What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?
My greatest achievement is kind of a work in progress, but it’s definitely the book I’m writing right now. It’s a young adult, coming-of-age romance about a girl who is learning to accept her epilepsy. I have epilepsy, so writing this book has forced me to confront a lot of emotional experiences I’ve had, and I feel like I’ve gained a sense of purpose since I know writing it could create a positive impact in the future.
After graduating college, I hope to be an editor—that’s my dream. I would also love to publish my own work that I’ve written someday.
Why are you interested in working in publishing?
Books light me up! Nothing excites me more than thinking about stories, and so getting to engage with them every day is the dream. They have such a powerful impact on people, and it’s so great knowing you’re part of the process and making positive change in people’s lives.
I’m a big character girl—I love the personal touch of getting to know a fictional character. It’s so cool looking at how they express their emotions, how that affects the story structure, and how their word choice can impact how readers perceive them.
Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?
Representation is so, so important. Living with a disability can feel isolating; reading a story, which is such an intimate and personal experience, with a character that is like you makes a huge difference. It helps you feel less alienated and reminds you that you’re worthy of a happy ending too. Since there’s not a lot of disability diversity out there right now, it’s important to create more of it so more people can experience those stories.
I wish there were more happy stories about people with disabilities. It’s important that they’re a normal person first and not defined by their disability, separating the plot from surrounding only their disability. All you have to do is depict them living. People outside of that world can understand life with disabilities better if they’re reading about it more, and books are such a personal way of experiencing something. It’s a natural way of educating other people.
What’s your role at INCLUDAS, and what’s been the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?
I am the Book Launch intern, and I’m excited to be exposed to the behind-the-scenes aspect of the publishing process. I am so familiar with books as a finished product, but I want to know about the steps it takes to get there. I love that I get to learn while working in a team and learn from them as much as I can.
Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?
I would look for internships. It’s the best way to get into the industry and make connections with people, and learn as much as you can.