I just finished reading Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton, the second book featuring Southern gal Leelee Satterfield. Leelee has just moved back home to Tennessee, following the loss of her husband, her Vermont inn and maybe the new love of her life, detailed in the first book Whistlin`Dixie in a Nor'easter.
Although I hadn't read the first book, I was able to easily catch up and enjoy Leelee's attempts to rebuild her life her life in Tennessee with a new home, new job and new man - all with the assistance of her ever helpful girlfriends. Patton has written an enjoyable sit on the front porch on a sunny day with a mint julep read. One that might have you calling for a girl's night out!
A Bookworm's World was lucky enough to have author Lisa Patton stop by for a few Q&A's. And I have three copies of Yankee Doodle Dixie to giveaway as well!
Are the characters in your book based on anyone from your past ( or present)?
Why yes, what ever in the world gave you that idea! Leelee's three best friends are an amalgamation of several of my own childhood best friends. We all met in kindergarten and spent the next 13 years together. I even went all the way through college with one of them. After spending that much time together, we became family. We watched our childhoods fly into adolescence and we spent our teenage years trying to stay out of trouble! We did everything together from ballroom dancing-school to driver's ed to celebrating our first kisses. We know each other so well. I could even pick their feet out of a line-up! And we're still best friends. While writing I'll call them periodically to reminisce about certain things we did as kids and inevitably I'll come up with something for a new scene. Like the girls in the book, we've been to a thousand concerts together over the years starting with The Monkeys. I'm leaving on Saturday to join them in Florida for a girl's trip and I have no doubt that I'll come back with plenty of good material for the next book. My website, www.lisapatton.com, has a short video of three of us together reminiscing about old times. Kissie is based on a black lady who was my second mother. The real Kissie's name is Christine and she passed away in 2000 at the age of 88. It was one of the saddest events of my entire life. I'm still not over it.
Are you a Southern gal yourself? Are the southern accents and attitudes 'real'.
Oh yes, I'm one of the "GRITS" as we say down here - a Girl Raised In The South. I think our attitudes, if nothing else, certainly reflect a southern allegiance. We love living here. We're a quirky bunch, that's for sure, but we freely admit it! I wrote the accents in the book as I hear them in my head. It's funny, though, because I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how the the southern accent should be placed on the endangered species list. I raised two children just south of Nashville, Tennessee and you'd never know they were Southern. They don't even have a trace of an accent. When compared to the total population of the state, there are fewer and fewer born and bred Tennesseans in this area. Nashville has become a huge melting pot.
The Help has garnered lots of attention for it's focus on 'black women raisin' white babies'. Kissie plays an important part in your novel. Was there a "Kissie" in your life? What are your thoughts on this subject?
I was raised in the 60s and 70s in Memphis, Tennessee. Many white families, even those living in a less-than-affluent socioeconomic bracket, had a black woman working in the home. She always wore a uniform and usually took the bus to work. I don't remember my family ever treating any of the housekeepers we employed over the years like the way the ladies in THE HELP were treated. We did have a maid's bathroom off the kitchen but I don't remember thinking much about it. My father made the decision to pay off Christine's mortgage when my grandmother died. After all, she had taken impeccable care of his mother and his children. I must say Christine was often more of a mother to me than my own. I loved her with all my heart and because of her I have raised my own children to be color-blind. We don't tolerate racial prejudice in our home - ever.
You've worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. Are the scenes from the book drawn from real life situations?
No, the characters and events are fictitious but I was a promotion director for a Top-40 radio station for several years. It was one of the best, most fun jobs I've ever had. Setting part of the novel inside a radio station, given the "write-what-you-know" adage, seemed like a perfect idea. Deejays are a crazy lot and writing about their daily pranks and the monkey business they create was irresistible. I was able to relive those glory days of working in radio.
I love the covers for your books. Do you have any input into final selection?
Thank you, Luanne, I love my covers, too. I'll never forget when I first saw the cover for WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER. My literary agent, Holly Root, called me while I was at work and asked if I'd seen my email. When I told her that I had not she asked me to look at it with her on the phone. At first I couldn't open the file but when I finally saw the cover for the first time, I burst out crying. It had taken me 13 years to get to that point and it was absolutely perfect. I had no input at all, other than the publisher asking if I liked it. Michael Storrings at St. Martin's is the genius behind both beautiful covers.
What does your writing day look like? Same place/same time?
My writing day is never the same but mornings are my best time. Sometimes I go to the library and other days I'll stay home with my little dog Rosie. I'll write 18 hours a day when I'm closing in on the end of a book but when I'm eking out the first draft I'm lucky to get in three hours per day. That part makes me crazy!
Is there going to be another chapter in the Leelee Satterfield story?
Oh my goodness, yes. Leelee and her friends are so much fun. I don't think I could leave them at this point. I'm writing the third book in the series now.
Thanks so much for stopping by Lisa - we'll be watching for the next chapter in Leelee's life!
You can find Lisa Patton on Facebook and on Twitter. In the meantime readers, if you think this would be a peach of a read for you, enter to win one of three copies of Yankee Doodle Dixie up for grabs. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered, ends Sat. Oct 1st at 6 pm EST. Read an excerpt of Yankee Doodle Dixie.