Getting to Know the Authors of Stratford For All Seasons
Writing duo Lamont Mackay and Phyllis Hinz have coauthored ten cookbooks and written a culinary-travel column for the past two decades. When not on the road, they spend time re-discovering their home town of Stratford, ON. Their latest writing project is a new series for Blue Moon Publishers’ Swan Parade Press imprint. Join us as we chat with Lamont and Phyllis about the new books and their writing process.
What inspired you to begin writing the Stratford For All Seasons series?
Stratford inspired us. As travel writers when we arrive at a new destination, we ask everyone we meet “What is your area known for? What should we do while we’re here?” In Stratford, we were amazed at the variety and volume of answers. The people of Stratford inspired us with their passionate replies. We soon discovered that even though Stratford is a city known for its Stratford Festival in the summer months, it is vibrant with cultural, artistic, and fun events all year round. We, too, became passionate about Stratford and decided to tell the city’s stories.
You live in Stratford. Are you still discovering new things?
Absolutely. Everyone we speak to has one more Stratford story or describes one more event that we need to check out.
Can you describe your research process?
Our research process tends to begin with someone telling us something we did not know about Stratford. If it is an event, we attend it and take notes. If it is a story, we search out the best source for details and take notes. Whenever possible, we meet the people in the story, run with their enthusiasm and describe the experience for others to enjoy.
Tell us about the most interesting fact-finding mission?
It was fun to investigate the story about Richard Manuel’s tombstone for Secrets & Surprises. A friend told us about Richard and his Stratford band, the Revols, and how they performed with Ronny Hawkins before going on to exciting times at Woodstock. We watched videos of his performances with The Band. When we heard that Manuel was buried in Stratford, that his tombstone had a keyboard on it, we decided to find it. We visited Avondale Cemetery in the early spring with snow still on the ground. Manuel’s tombstone was hard to find. At the cemetery management office, we were given the specific location of the tombstone. A city employee took us to the site. When he cleared snow and dirt from the tombstone and picked up a pair of sunglasses that had been there for a long time, we saw the keyboard and knew we had a good story. Apparently, sunglasses aren’t the only objects often removed by cemetery staff.
You’re a writing duo. How do you handle the writing process?
As two writers telling one story, we bring two perspectives to the page. With many years of practice and collaboration we have found our own unique style and voice. One of us writes a draft that the other edits. Back and forth we go, making changes and reading the manuscript aloud, until we are happy with the result. We work hard to find just the right words to tell the story. And at the end of it all, we’re still friends.
What have you learned through writing Stratford For All Seasons?
We have learned that we are fortunate to be living in Stratford, where forward thinking people, past and present, have cultivated and creatively combined the benefits of world-renowned theatre and arts, technological innovation, and rural living. Stratford is unique. And the stories never end.