(Jackson, Wyo.) - By day, Teton Valley resident Hope McKenzie is a legal secretary at two Jackson Hole law firms. By night, she is immersed in the world of stolen nuclear weapons, running from the law, exposing abuse and exploring personal relationships. McKenzie's night job is as a romantic suspense novelist. Her first book, The Bequest, has a five star Amazon rating and has several reviews. Her second book, The Getaway, was just released in early July. For McKenzie, it is important that her books make people think about the world around them, not just escape it. McKenzie moved about every two years, growing up all over the American Midwest. After high school, she continued to travel the U.S., working concessions with the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus. When McKenzie and her husband decided to quit the circus biz and head back to the Midwest, they took a wrong turn and found themselves in Jackson Hole. "We spent the night in the car behind the old Maverick station south of town," said McKenzie. "We woke up the next morning, drove to the Snake River Overlook and watched the sun come up over the Tetons. We were sold." They returned to Wisconsin to work for a winter and then moved to Jackson in 1994. When they arrived, there were two jobs advertised in the paper and very few places to live. Luckily, they were able to find jobs and housing. McKenzie bounced around retail and hospitality jobs for the first few years. When she was working at a clothing store on Town Square, one day a regular customer offered her a job as a legal secretary. “I was pretty astounded by that and intimidated by it," she said. "I didn’t know anything about computers or about the law. I only have a high school education.” Since she got her first legal secretary job in 1998, she has worked for several different lawyers in Jackson. “It isn’t something that I would have chosen. It was just something I fell into, but I am really grateful,” said McKenzie. Through her many jobs in the valley, she has never stopped writing. A few years ago, she began to get more serious about this passion. She took a novel that she had written in the past and completely re-wrote it, had her husband design the cover and decided to self publish. “I just basically leapt,” she said. Her first book, The Bequest
was published in January 2015. The book follows a woman who receives a call
one day that she has gained guardianship of an estranged friend's son. When
she goes to pick up the boy, she runs into a former Navy Seal who tells her
that the woman who died was involved in stealing a cache of nuclear weapons
from Afghanistan. The story follows the woman, the boy and the former Navy
Seal as they journey to find the missing weapons. Read the full synopsis
“It is a book about relationships, about second chances and the things we
all experience," said McKenzie.
The Bequest has a five star ranking on Amazon and a significant number of
Just this month, McKenzie released her second book, The Getaway. This book
follows a woman who works as a nanny for a very influential man and
discovers that he is abusing his son. No one will listen to her because of
the man’s status, so she decides to get in the car and run away with the
"Lucia Sanchez has stolen two children. Two children who don’t belong to
her; two children she will do anything to save. Driven by a bloody past and
determined to change an ignoble future, Lucia will make any sacrifice
necessary to be certain history doesn’t repeat itself. She has given
everything she ever was, everything she would ever become, and nothing will
stop her from completing her mission," states the synopsis on Amazon. Read
the full synopsis of The Getaway here.
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“I write strong woman. I get really tired of seeing weak female role models
out there,” she said about her books.
Next, she plans to write a novella expanding on the story of one of the
smaller characters in The Getaway. Following that, she would like to write
a book about working in a carnival.
"It [working at a carnival] is something that a lot of people are
fascinated by and curious about," said McKenzie. "It is a whole different
existence. They live in the same world as the rest of us, but a different
Just recently, her first book was named a finalist for the Daphne du
Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
“It was up against some pretty good names," she said. "I didn't win, but
the fact that my first book was chosen as a finalist, I was happy with
Both books are for sale digitally and in paperback on Amazon.
*Feature Photo: Hope McKenzie. h/t Hope McKenzie / Pitchengine Communities*