Title: The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up
Author: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Genre: New Adult/Adult Coming of Age Novel
Paperback Release Date: October 15, 2021
eBook Release: November 14, 2021
Sexual awakening can be messy business.
Tillie Bishop never knew her father, and when her mother abandons her, Tillie quickly becomes streetwise. Even in Calgary, forces of the coming 1960s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—are already at work within her. As a Canadian Girl in Training, she’s tried to follow their Christian guidelines, but she prefers to make up her own. She smokes cigarettes in the church bathroom during the group’s meetings and plays kissing games afterward with neighborhood boys. Barely a teenager, glamour becomes her new guiding star, and she fantasizes about a future of dating men and having sex.
At seventeen, during a stay in Toronto, she becomes a band groupie and throws herself into the “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” scene—just what she she’s been looking for. Then, seeking more adventure, she moves to San Francisco, drawn to its psychedelic night life, leading to a deeper downward spiral. However, Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self.
Tillie takes readers on a wild ride through a period of riotous personal and cultural change. Join her if you dare!
eBook Releasing November 14, 2021
One night, Tillie and Gwen had visited a neighborhood bar and picked up a couple of guys. The four of them decided to visit a nearby spiritualist church. Tillie had heard of weird things happening there, and they all thought it would be good for laughs. The minister called up people from the congregation’s past, living or dead. Tillie was hoping to learn something about her real dad. He could be anywhere, maybe even in Frisco.
The four of them joined the long line filing into the building for the evening service. A donation basket sat on a table in front of a woman who was greeting everyone. Some people put checks into it; others bills. Tillie looked around at the notices on the bulletin board as she passed by, pretending she didn’t see the basket or the woman. She needed her money more than they did.
Inside, an usher handed each of them a piece of paper and a pencil, pointing to seats on one side of the pulpit that gave them a side view of the minister. A little tipsy, the four giggled nervously, stumbling over people’s feet on the way to their seats in the wooden pews. The place smelled like dust.
They were the youngest there. Most were middle-aged or older. Some knew each other and chattered away until a tall, stout woman, wearing a white lace dress, climbed the platform. Her short, permed, steel-gray hair tinted blue, she stood behind the podium and looked around the room. Then she spoke with a strong Scottish accent.
“We’re all gathered here this evening to share together in the spirit world and the Divine presence among us. Let us pray.
“Our Creator, we place ourselves in your hands, from whatever religious background we come from, to be melted down and made into new beings. We welcome your Spirit tonight. Help us to connect with our loved ones who’ve gone on to be with You, or to answer any questions residing in our hearts. Amen.”
Tillie, Gwen, and the guys glanced at each other, stifling giggles.
“If you’re a first-time visitor,” and here the minister looked right at Tillie, “we’ll be sending around a basket soon. Write your question on the paper the usher gave you and put it in the basket. If it’s a deceased person you want to ask a question of, give the person’s full name. If you don’t have a loved one you want to contact, just write your question. Don’t give your actual name—just an initial or a nickname if you like. I’ll look at all your inquiries and let the spirits speak through me, God willing.”
Tillie stared at her piece of paper, afraid to put the question in writing, not sure she really wanted an answer. She looked at Gwen, then at the guys. Gwen’s date, Malcolm, and Tillie’s date, Jerome, was Malcolm’s friend. They were all scribbling away.
She looked back at her sheet. Before she could chicken out, she wrote: “Where is my father? What can you tell me about him?” After signing it Athena, she folded the paper several times before dropping it in the basket when it passed. She suddenly felt sober. Cold sober.
The baskets quickly made it around the room, and the ushers carried them up to the minister. She stood, opening her arms wide and throwing back her head: “Almighty Creator, fill our minds with pure thoughts and our hearts with sincere feelings so we can all participate in bringing these concerns to the light of Your wisdom.”
Then she looked at everyone again and gave instructions: “When your answer comes through me, don’t leave. Please sit quietly till the end of the service. We need your presence to help the spirits do their work.”
Soothed by the minister’s Scottish brogue, she was reminded of her mum and grandpa’s accent. She might not have a father she could call on, but she did have roots somewhere. The minister’s voice washed over her like water in a brook, lightly touching Tillie’s body. It went on and on.
Then she said, “This message is for Athena. The subject of your inquiry is married and currently has two children.”
Married? Two children?
“You’ll find your father in Calgary.”
Calgary! He’d been there all the time and he’d never looked up his daughter? Tillie had pictured him on the road, his life filled with ad- ventures, father and daughter two chips off the old block. But married? In Calgary?
She closed her eyes and pretended she was sleeping.
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in Lily Iona MacKenzie’s early years, she supported herself as a stock girl, as a long-distance operator, and as a secretary. She also was a cocktail waitress at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (she was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got her 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, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities).
She has published poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction in over 165 venues. She also has published three novels: Fling! (2015), Curva Peligrosa, (2017), and Freefall: A Divine Comedy (2019). A sequel to Freefall, The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up, will come out in October 2021. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011, and her poetry chapbook No More Kings in 2020. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning and blogs at http://lilyionamackenzie.com.