About Lily Iona MacKenzie:
About 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 (I was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got my legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, 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 155 American and Canadian venues. My novel Fling! was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Curva Peligrosa, another novel, was released in 2017. My poetry collection All This was published in 2011. I also taught rhetoric at the University of San Francisco and was vice-president of USF's part-time faculty union for over 30 years. Currently, I’m teaching creative writing at USF’s Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning. When I’m not writing, I paint and travel widely with my husband.
What inspires you to write?
I don’t think I have a choice. Writing is as necessary to me as eating, and if I don’t write each day, I become irritable and unpleasant to live with. Ask my husband!
But reading other writers' wonderful work always has a positive impact on me, especially as a warm-up for whatever I'm working on each day.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I start writing, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I have no idea where I’m going. That’s the fun part of writing for me: the quest. The heading off into the dark with very little light guiding me. I’m not sure I even have an “idea” at the beginning of a work. For example, my novel Curva Peligrosa started with an image. I had read in the paper about a tornado hitting a small town near the city where I grew up in Canada. For some reason, that image grabbed my attention, and the novel actually starts at that point, with the tornado approaching the fictional town of Weed, Alberta.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters unfold as they're revealed in the narrative. I don't think I either listen to or talk to my characters. Rather, I watch them unfold on the page, getting to know them as a reader would.
What advice would you give other writers?
There's no replacement for showing up every day for whatever time you have set aside for writing. Persistence and determination create successful writers, meaning ones who manage to publish widely. And you can't replace reading extensively in many genres. It will help you expand your resources and serve as models to try emulating. Finally, writing is all about revising, not just once but continuously. Then you can enjoy the fruits of your labors.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had spent far too many years trying to interest the big houses in my novels. When I finally admitted how difficult it is to break into that scene, I started sending my manuscripts to smaller presses. That's when I found the publishers of my three novels as well as my poetry collection. ALL THIS. I love her relationship I have with them. It's a little like being part of a family whose members support each other.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Since the printing press arrived, books have always been part of western culture, and I have no doubt they will continue to be an important part of our lives. How else would we not only discover aspects of ourselves that have remained hidden but also enter into worlds otherwise closed to us.
What genres do you write?: poetry, short and long fiction, memoir, nonfiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print, Audiobook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.