Hello all and welcome to our continuing series of author interviews. Today’s guest is multi-talented San Francisco based author Lily Iona MacKenzie. Regular readers will be familiar with Lily thanks to her previous contribution Lily Iona MacKenzie’s Book Marketing 101 that covered reviews, Goodreads, readings and radio stations as promotional venues.
Lily writes poetry, fiction and magic realism, the latter in Curva Peligrosa, the story of a woman traveling through realities while journeying from Central America to Lily’s home in Alberta, Canada.
Folks, please give it up for Lily Iona MacKenzie.
Lily writes in several genres, including fiction that features magic realism. The latter appears in Curva Peligrosa, the story of a woman searching for the secret to eternal life who travels from Southern Mexico to a fictional town in Alberta, Canada, having many adventures along the way. Fling! was published in 2015. Curva Peligrosa launched in 2017. Freefall: A Divine Comedy will be released in 2018. Her poetry collection, All This, was published in 2011. She taught rhetoric for over 30 years at the University of San Francisco (USF) and currently teaches creative writing at USF’s Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning.
Lily and I talked about growing up in Alberta, Canada and ending up in San Francisco with lots of adventures along the way, writing magic realism, poetry and fiction, teaching, almost getting her legs broken working on the docks, managing homeless shelters, the value of college in becoming a writer, working through depression, keeping track of one’s dreams, having determination, dealing with self-doubt, what is magic realism, really, the surrealistic movement, how to market yourself, the need to market yourself, the best ways to market yourself, the value of writers’ conferences to beginning and advanced writers, and verdana vs calibri (it’s a deathmatch, folks).
You can find links to Lily’s books on the right or at the bottom of this post (depending on your device). You’ll also find links to Lily’s sites underneath the video. And it would be just kittens nice if you commented. Oh, really it would.
Lily’s latest – Freefall
Read Lily on her blog and Amazon
Follow and friend her on Facebook and Twitter
Read Lily Iona MacKenzie’s Book Marketing 101 to get her take on on Reviews, Goodreads, Readings and Radio Stations.
Lily also suggests Womens Fiction Writers and Story Circle for networking.
Lily uses Meetup to find places to promote your work.
Lastly, Lily’s publishers include Regal House Publishing, Pen-L Publishing and Little Red Tree Publishers.
An excerpt from Lily Iona MacKenzie’s I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
First there was a sound like a car backfiring. Then a searing pain shot through her breast. Heart attack? On this balmy Los Angeles night? She rolled up the windows of her Passat, turned off the ignition, and fumbled for her purse. Just 20 minutes earlier she had been sipping wine and chatting with friends and colleagues at a Hollywood film preview, delighting in her eloquence and witty retorts. Now she could feel her strength quickly ebbing away.
Pushing on the door handle, she thought everything would be fine if she could just get inside her house. A hot shower would revive her, and in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, she would laugh about her fears. In her late fifties, her health was too good for her heart to give out now.
The door swung open. From her peripheral vision, she saw someone move towards her out of the shadows, barely visible in the dark, arm outstretched. At the end of it was a gun, and it was pointed at her.
A gun? Ludicrous. Such things only happened in movies, not in real life. And certainly not to her. Who would want to shoot Melanie Ann Bick? She didn’t have any enemies—except maybe the gardener she fired recently for not doing a satisfactory job. She had read something in the paper recently about a Beverly Hills’ do-gooder getting knifed while walking her toy poodle. The woman’s handyman couldn’t stand her new perfume scent, a powerful brand that triggered an allergic response in him. So he took care of the problem and is serving time for the rest of his life.
Not wanting to test her legs just yet, she teetered on the edge of the car seat, one leg still inside the vehicle, the other planted on the curb. Something trickled between her breasts. Sweat? Her mind latched onto any distraction, avoiding the threat just a few feet away.
Serving time. What an odd expression, as if one could actually assist time, give it a leg up, so to speak, while in prison. It seemed an oxymoron to serve time: an impossible task. Maybe that’s why prisoners often were called to do it.
Is she serving time? Is she a prisoner in some sense of the word? But of what? Her life? The success she’s attained in the Hollywood film scene, writing gossip columns about the stars for movie magazines and newspapers?
How did movie stars get that name? Did they represent on earth some otherworldly quality, like the stars in the sky? Dazzling. Untouchable. Damned to float forever above the masses. Lost to their fame. Lost. She’d seen enough in her life as a stargazer to know how shallow and ephemeral it all was. Yet she never lost her fascination for the Hollywood scene or for getting the latest scoop on her victims.
There, she’d said it. Victims. Could she be a victim, too? Maybe she did have an enemy or three out there who wouldn’t mind seeing her snuffed out. Someone who would laugh when he or she read in the papers that Melanie Ann Bick had been shot in front of her home. Could she have offended a star that hired a hit man to gun her down?
She tried to protest, to tell the person holding the gun he had the wrong person. She wasn’t worth killing. Certainly James, her son, would say that. James and his wife. Melanie realized she hadn’t made out a will yet, so her savings and investments would automatically go to her next of kin. Her Poodle didn’t count. She thought she could hear it barking inside the house—her closest companion. Shouldn’t that scare off whoever was aiming at her. Wouldn’t he fear the neighbors coming to check on the noise?
But they kept pretty much to themselves. If anything, screams or other street noises would make them retreat further into their houses. The mantra of the day? “I don’t want to get involved.” They were either veg’ing out on a TV show, playing video games, or lost in cyberspace. So much for living in a neighborhood, unless you counted the random connections on Facebook. Such communities rarely existed these days, especially in West LA.
She realized she sounded like a sour old codger, wagging her dying finger at all these strangers she lived among. Yet she never attempted to make herself known to them. At the day’s end, she preferred to close the door behind her and forget the external world. It was more satisfying to retreat into her computer and type up another exposé, pasted together from fragments of conversations she’d had during the day at studios and cafes where the would-be stars congregated. Threads of their lives woven together in her columns. What power she had to make and break these aspiring actors and actresses. They were kids to her, most of them a third her age, or so botoxed or plastic surgeoned that they appeared to be. But it gave her a lift to live vicariously through them, blotting out the bleakness of her own existence.
Some say that a dying person watches her whole life unfold at the moment of death, and time certainly had slowed for Melanie. It seemed possible to fit a lifetime into each passing second. But which lifetime? By now, she had experienced many of them. Where to start and end?
With her first marriage to Brent, a Hollywood agent, her son’s father? The thought repelled her. He was the last person she wanted to think about during the final minutes of her life. Yet he proved irrepressible, bursting into her thoughts just as another bullet ripped her chest, the force knocking her back against the seat. Her eyes widened and blurred. She had trouble focusing on anything but the sensation that something was terribly wrong. The script that was her life had veered off the page, and she couldn’t quite put it right again.
She clung to the image of Brent, that long ago discarded spouse, hoping he could keep her afloat. He seemed to be telling her something. Warning her. Melanie, he called out. Or was that her own voice she heard, ripping through the silent night, a piercing animal-like sound. Brent peered at her, replaced a moment later by her mother, who actually lived a few blocks away in Westwood. Melanie must be hallucinating. Her mother never would respond to her daughter’s distress. If anything, she would add to it.
It made sense that her mother would show up with Brent. She had loved her son-in-law, probably more than Melanie ever had. “He’s a looker,” she’d said and laughed. A looker. Right. He was always on the prowl, looking for a piece of ass. That’s what he called it. How do you get a piece of ass if you’re a man?
Words were her only solace now, their intricacies gripping her attention, buoys in the sea of confusion she’s feeling, something to cling to. In the beginning was the word, but is the word also at the ending? Those words preachers spout over open graves of ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Asses to asses? She almost laughs, but whatever is bubbling up in her mouth prevents her from doing it.
Still, she can’t get that word out of her mind, and she feels like an ass because of it. Does a woman give up a piece of herself when she has sex with a man? Why don’t they call it getting a piece of cock when a woman fucks a man? Ass is a brutal, barbaric term, one that she always hated. Did Brent get a piece of her ass?
Several more shots went off. She tried to protest. There was no need to turn her into a cheap target in a shooting gallery. But she couldn’t object. Everything was spinning as if she were caught in a vortex.
Had she remained conscious, the sight of her blood splattering everywhere, permanently staining the immaculate white dress she’d worn for the first time that night, would have appalled her. Her party dress she called it. Some party.
And how unfair for her to die without knowing who was responsible for it. After suffering through these final horrendous moments, she should have the satisfaction of knowing her killer. For all she knew it was her son or her mother or Brent or a myriad of stars.
As she drifted from this world, a Rolling Stones’ song played over and over in her mind, until there was no mind left to recall it: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” could have been Melanie’s theme song. Her relations with others never quite worked, but it was too late now to wonder why. She had glided across her life the way dragonflies skim the surface of water, batting her wings frantically so as not to sink in. Ah, those wings. She certainly had them, but she never used them to their full potential. She neither flew nor settled anywhere long enough to really dig into her days. And now all her chances have been used up.
Melanie would go to her grave not knowing many things, in particular why Brent took up so much space in her thoughts on her way out and not her son. Maybe she resembled Brent more than she knew. She’d been getting pieces of the stars’ asses in her own way, her pen probing and splaying them on paper, male and female. It didn’t matter as long as she got her story.