Author Name & Publisher: Naomi MacKenzie (Duet Books, The YA imprint of Interlude Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 8, 2015 – 226 pgs
On the eve of a new school year, several groups of college students cross paths as they seek out a secret end-of-summer lake party—including Robin and Charlie, two inseparable friends who discover of the course of the twenty-four hours that their relationship is something much deeper than simple friendship.
Larry holds up the flyer to study the map Florence drew. Barry is leaning to look at it, too, when it’s ripped from between Larry’s fingers.
A greasy man in a campus security uniform stands over them with a pinched expression. His faded nametag reads: Ron Anderchuk. “Another one,” he all but growls. “Where in heck did you get this, boys?”
Barry tries his best to look innocent. Which isn’t all that hard, since he knows nothing.
“Found it on the ground,” Larry lies.
“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” the security guy says. “Extra trouble for littering.” He glares hard at the paper for nearly a minute before looking back at them. “You do know parties like this are illegal, don’t ya, boys? And frowned upon by this here establishment.” He raps his knuckles on the table. “I think it best you stick around here this weekend. That would be best, don’t ya agree?” He widens his beady eyes while he waits for their assent.
Barry looks to Larry. Seeing him nodding, he mimics the gesture.
The security officer’s answering grunt sounds disbelieving. He mutters as he walks away; the flyer with their map is gripped in his fist.
“What are we—”
Larry holds up his hand, stopping Barry’s question in its tracks. “Not to worry; I have a photographic memory. I’ve got the map in here.” He taps a fingertip against his temple.
“Even after all of that? And we do have another problem, if Florence is to be believed.”
Larry hums and strokes his chin. He picks up Barry’s tray and they walk to the windows. The orientation officers are indeed spread across the entire expanse outside, handing out pamphlets and organizing games of lawn bowling and oversized croquet. The entrance to the student parking lot is completely blocked.
Barry should throw in the towel, admit defeat and convince Larry to do the same. And he would, if not for one thing. The one detail that has roped him into the excitement over the lake festivities fully and completely is Kate Zimmermann, captain of the Dicaroon Seadogs field hockey team. Barry was looking through the school’s website while Larry was plotting behind him and he caught sight of her picture. He informed Barry that she was one of the girls who was carrying the van’s bench seat into her dorm room and invited him to the party early that morning.
Barry is in love with Kate Zimmermann. He has been since seeing her on the Dicaroon University website the previous summer. Well, he’s in love with the image of her and her red hair and blue eyes and adorable freckles that are so voluminous that they connect on her face. He has dreamed of red-haired kids calling him Daddy and hitting balls with sticks. Possibly. And she’s throwing the party, so even if Barry will never get up the nerve to speak to her should he live for a thousand years, he has to go. For his future dream-wife.
“Well, then,” Larry says. He sets Barry’s lunch tray down on the bussing station and rubs his hands together. “I guess we are in need of a foolproof plan.”
“A stratagem,” Barry says. He feels immediately foolish for being such a huge dork.
But then Larry grins at him. “Ooh, yes, I like that. A stratagem.”
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
Honestly, my writing environment is mostly chaotic. I don’t have a specific writing area, and never use my desk. I tend to flop down wherever is comfortable and move when I get stuck on a scene. I can usually write the most at a stretch of I’m out somewhere, be it a coffee shop, park, in the forest. Maybe it’s the lack of internet connection that makes me productive, but I’ll pretend it’s because I’m inspired by the surroundings.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
In Lodestones I think I relate most to Silas and Christa. They both love their friends fiercely, but also need time alone to unwind. They aren’t always comfortable in social situations, mostly because they find them exhausting. I’d call them friendly introverts, and I’m part of that club as well.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
I’m trained as a photographer, so probably that. It’s not as much fun as it was in ye olde film days, however. I miss having a darkroom and being surprised by the captured images, rather than seeing them on a screen the moment they’re shot.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
A lot of writers have a specific time of day during which they are productive, but I’m not like that. I have to cram it in whenever I find the time or inspiration. I had to train myself to schedule time to write, and to do it whether or not I felt inspired. That is difficult for me. I wish it was a skill I’d always had. I’m still working on it.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
I’m sure I could find bits and pieces that I want to scratch out and rewrite. Writing and editing never feels complete. I think all writers could edit their stories forever and not be completely happy with them.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
Ideas come from all over the place. Sometimes I am reminded of things from my childhood that make me laugh, and I steal from those situations. Sometimes I witness interesting things in public. Sometimes I have vivid dreams that I have to jot down upon waking, the light from my cellphone blinding me while I scribble into a notebook. Those ones are the worst, because I can’t always decipher the writing. Also in the shower. Story ideas always come to me while I’m washing my hair and can’t write them down. I have to keep repeating them to myself until I’m able to.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I’ve got a few novel ideas cooking. Some are still abstract, others full-fledged outlines. I think I’m going to work on more YA next.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I’m Canadian. I currently live in the Toronto area, but I’m originally from the east coast. I’m definitely influenced by my surroundings, and especially by the coast. I find it difficult to write anything that does not somehow include a body of water and a beach.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
I adore mysteries. The planning, the genius that goes into setting it all up, hiding the trail of breadcrumbs that leads to forehead-slapping realizations once the culprit has been unmasked. It’s fascinating to me. Ever since my childhood love of Nancy Drew, I’ve been a sucker for mysteries.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?
Oh god, shopping for sure. Whether I’m buying things for myself or others, I adore shopping. Spending money should not be as fun as it is.
Naomi MacKenzie is a writer and photographer from the eastern coast of Canada. She considers herself a Maritimer first and a Canadian second, or so she told the standardized testing people in essay form during the eleventh grade. She enjoys vegan baking, walks in the woods and, contrarily, hiding from the sun. Lodestones is her first novel.