• MacKenzie Bezos, the wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is an award-winning novelist.
• She’s had literary ambitions since she was six years old.
When Jeff Bezos told his wife MacKenzie about his idea for a new company, she was immediately on board.
Bezos travelled with her husband to Seattle, where she worked for the fledgling Amazon as an accountant.
The move was a bit of a departure for the Princeton grad, who had long dreamed of becoming a writer. But she was eager to support her husband.
“To me, watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure – what is better than that?” MacKenzie said during an interview with CBS.
Here’s a look at the career of award-winning novelist MacKenzie Bezos:
MacKenzie grew up in San Francisco. She told Vogue she was a shy child who would often stay in her bedroom writing “elaborate stories.”
She authored her first book — “The Book Worm” — at the age of six. The handwritten, 142-page novel was later lost in a flood, according to her Amazon author bio.
After high school, MacKenzie attended Hotchkiss, then transferred to Princeton in order to study fiction with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.
Morrison told Vogue that MacKenzie was “one of the best students I’ve ever had in my creative-writing classes … really one of the best.”
During college, MacKenzie also worked as a dishwasher, waitress, clothing salesperson, deli cashier, restaurant hostess, library monitor, data entry clerk, tutor, nanny, and research assistant to Toni Morrison, according to her Amazon bio.
After graduation, MacKenzie took a job “to pay the bills while she wrote,” according to Vogue. She went to work as a research associate for investment management firm D.E. Shaw. Her future husband and fellow Princeton grad Jeff, who was one of the firm’s vice presidents at the time, was the first person to interview her. Later on, she asked him out to lunch.
They became engaged three months later, and wed three months after that. The following year, in 1994, the couple quit their jobs and travelled to Seattle to found Amazon. MacKenzie became an accountant for her husband’s new company and was one of Amazon’s earliest employees.
Jeff told Vogue he would sometimes wake up during vacations to find his wife working on her first novel in hotel bathrooms. It ultimately took MacKenzie ten years to write and publish “The Testing of Luther Albright.”
Ultimately, MacKenzie told Vogue her growing family took precedence over her writing. “After the third child, I knew I couldn’t be the kind of parent I wanted to be and continue writing. Those years were just too busy.”
MacKenzie’s first novel won an American Book Award in 2005. For her second novel, “Traps,” she decided to motivate herself by not sharing her incomplete work with her husband.
She also told Vogue the strategy was a difficult one, because her husband is her “best reader.” He’d often drop other plans to read and carefully review manuscripts of her first novel.
To eliminate any distractions, MacKenzie would work in her own small apartment. There, she’d write until it was time to pick the kids up from school.
“The sooner I finished, the sooner I could share it with him and talk about these characters who had been taking up so much space in my head,” MacKenzie told Vogue. “By the last three months, they were so real and important to me, I could start crying just thinking about them while driving to pick up the kids from school.”
Once “Traps” was published in 2013, MacKenzie didn’t sign on for Amazon’s new publishing imprint. “We are calling her the fish that got away,” Jeff told Vogue.
MacKenzie strives to write daily to be “engaged with the story.” “I have to keep up these pretend people in order for them to have space in my life,” she told Seattle Met.” Basically, it works best for me to get up early and write a little bit before I talk to anybody, so I’ll usually write in two chunks: one before the kids get up — and then I’ll have my morning with them — and then while they’re at school I’ll write some more.”
Source: Seattle Met
In a post on publisher Weidenfeld and Nicolson’s blog, MacKenzie said of publishing “Traps”: “I have no specific hopes about what anyone might think or feel reading ‘Traps’ except that they have fun, and that it feels real and powerful enough to them to affect how they see their own lives a little bit.”
Source: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
“One of my favourite things about books is the collaboration between the writer’s imagination and each reader’s personal experience,” she wrote. “I can pick up book I read ten years ago, and it in many ways it will feel like a different story to me because my own struggles and preoccupations focus my attention on different things.”
Source: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
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