Saturday, August 13, 2016

#MMBBR #Showcase Fling! by @lilyionamac

Fling! by [Mackenzie, Lily Iona]About Fling!  When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it. 

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics. 

In Mexico, where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother, and Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashesand a new manincreases her zest for life. Unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. She doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily and lusting after strangers, exulting in her youthful spirit.

Readers will believe they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, Bubbles comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.  

Lily Iona MacKenzieAbout me?  A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in my early years, I supported myself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored me into the States). I also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got my legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, co-created THE STORY SHOPPE, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin County, CA, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). I have published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 150 American and Canadian venues. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. My poetry collection All This was published in 2011. I blog at

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.  An easier question might be what doesn’t inspire your writing! Writing itself is such a mysterious process that just doing it is inspirational. Whether I’m writing poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, the act of putting words on paper (okay, the computer screen) sends me off on a journey, and I never know where I’ll end up. Numerous things can motivate me to explore them further in writing. For example, my blog post yesterday focused on character names and how important they are to me in finding my protagonists. Or I might read something in the newspaper that will end up in a short story, such as when I read about a snake appearing in the toilet of a NY apartment. The story ended up being published as “Priscilla the Python.” Essentially, the desire to know more about myself and the world gives me more material to write about than I can keep up with!

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

A.  I’m a curious person by nature, and writing helps me to investigate worlds I otherwise would not have access to. In my novel Bone Songs, Curva Peligrosa, the main character, travels by horse from Southern Mexico to Canada along what is known as the legendary Old North Trail, a passageway that extended from the Canadian Arctic down to the deserts of Mexico and beyond. The Blackfoot call the trail "The Backbone of the World.” It runs along the base of the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, following a kind of shoreline between the mountains and the plains for over three thousand miles. Of course, I had to do considerable research in order to write about this area and the adventures Curva has while traveling it. And research is always a strong component of most narratives I write. So I’m able to be an adventurer like my character Curva and make discoveries I otherwise would not have made. That includes psychological insights about my creations and myself.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?

A.  Most people don’t know much about what writers do and have difficulty talking to them. So I find myself avoiding any discussion about my work as a writer. While I love entering new worlds and exploring new characters and making unexpected discoveries as a narrative unfolds. I never know where a work is going. It’s totally spontaneous. That’s the fun and adventure of writing. But it’s also one of the more difficult parts because I have to trust each time that material will surface, and I will eventually have a story to tell. Each day when I sit down to write, I have to overcome this fear that I won’t be able to do it. Another tough part of being a writer is the extensive marketing that’s writers have to do in order to sell their books. Those demands can be overwhelming at times. I have about a dozen Facebook groups that I need to keep up with in addition to Twitter. Pinterest. Instagram, etc. Finding lovely bloggers that are interested in doing interviews or book reviews is time consuming. Then there is scheduling and doing readings. Keeping up my blog and blog posts. It leaves me very little time to write!

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A.  I dabble in the visual arts, and I’ve taken many classes in painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, etc. However, I have very little time to devote to this part of myself. In another life, it would be my main focus.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  Turning Honey into Gold

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.  I envy people who can select just one book, but I can’t. There are so many fantastic writers, living and dead, that I love. I’ve read all of Norwegian novelist Per Petterson’s books. I’ve also read most of Gabriel Marquez’s work. One Hundred Years of Solitude found me at a time when I needed a model for the magical realism approach that seems natural to me and inhabits much of my work. I love that book and return to it often for inspiration.

In another mode, Roberto Bolano, a Chilean writer, has also inspired me. He diverges from the more familiar magical realist vein and creates his own mode. I’ve read most of his books now, and they construct a world that seems like a parallel universe to ours. He also steps beyond the usual fiction boundaries, violating our expectations of how a story/novel should unfold or end. I’m always entranced by his work.

And I haven’t mentioned W.G. Sebald yet, another writer who died far too young. He’s also invented a new genre, a hybrid novel form. Again, I’ve read all of his work, and I’m stunned by it.

I’m sorry that all of these authors are men when there are so many female writers I love as well. How can I not mention my countrywoman Alice Munro? Or Irish writer Anne Enright. I’ll read anything these women write because of their sharp wit and illuminations of contemporary life.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A.  Hummmm. When I was reading Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, I identified strongly with the main character, a young country girl who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American Dream. I started my life in a rural Canadian area and ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area where I believe I’ve realized my American Dream.

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?

A.  The problem is, I’m not like any of them. But each of those characters carries some of my traits. Feather, the hippie artist in Fling!, shares my interest in art, and her mother, 90-year-old Bubbles, embodies my zest for life. Curva Peligrosa from Bone Songs embodies strong feminist ideas that have always been part of me. Tillie in Freefall: A Divine Comedy captures my zany sense of humor and determination to make it as an artist.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A.  Traveler of the Century, and the incredible world that Andrés Neuman creates in that work, the mysterious city of Wandernberg whose geography is constantly shifting, would make for an enticing weekend.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A.  I like winter because it encourages me to go more inward and allows me to dream about how wonderful it will be when summer arrives and I can be outside more working in my garden or taking walks with my husband.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A.  The book cover for my poetry collection All This includes one of my own watercolors. Readers have commented on how attractive it is without knowing I was the artist. The cover for my novel Fling! was created by the Pen-L Publishing designer, and it’s a stunner. It really captures the spirit of the book and the focus on Mexico with its vivid colors and design.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A.  Since I was born and raised in Canada, I did my book launch for Fling!there. My son Leo lives in a small community called Christina Lake in British Columbia, and he arranged a reading for me there at Lisa’s Bistro in the Living Arts Center, a splendid place. Many of his colleagues and friends attended the reading, and afterwards, those who bought the book asked me to sign it “Leo’s mum”!

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A.  I’m deeply involved in revisions of my novel Bone Songs. It will be published in spring 2017. My publisher has given me excellent suggestions on how to strengthen the narrative, and I’m anticipating its launch. The novel starts with a tornado battering Weed, a mythical Canadian town. Curva Peligrosa (Spanish for dangerous curve), one of the main characters, sits inside her outhouse as the storm carries it aloft, peering through the slit in the door at the village dismantling in front of her. It lands in the center of town: “Never had she witnessed such destruction—doors and roofs unhinged from houses flew past. The loosening of so many buildings’ restraints released something inside her. Never had she been so aroused.”

Pen-L Publishing, the press that released Fling!, has contracted with me for three other books. Two of them are already written—Freefall A Divine Comedyand Tillie: Portrait of a Canadian Girl in Training, both of them featuring Tillie.The third will complete the series and will be about Tillie in her middle years.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  If you aren’t a writer, I hope this interview will give you some insight into what our lives are like. I also hope you’ll keep up the wonderful tradition of supporting authors and reading as many books as possible. My nightstand is sagging under the weight of all that I want to read!

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