Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guest – Suspense Author – LISA TURNER

(Help us welcome debut author Lisa Turner. Word of mouth on her fab Southern Gothic Suspense has been outstanding. )


What a kick! My first blog for Riding With the Top Down. Another first was a recent signing for my debut novel, A Little Death In Dixie. The universe has turned a full rotation since I started that book, but the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned made it all worthwhile.

Want an example?

Last week in bumper-to-bumper traffic I pulled in behind a cherry red Mercedes convertible. A sticker on the back read: Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History.

We all know that, right? We’re assertive women, right? I changed lanes and waved to the woman driver whom I noticed was wearing Jackie O. shades. Her bumper sticker reminded me of another bit of wisdom from Story, Robert McKee’s brilliant book on screenwriting that I’d taken instantly to heart after months of struggling to write my Southern suspense. He said: Good girls don’t write good fiction.

What a choice! Be a good girl or write good crime fiction.

Are you kidding me? I’d rather make history and write a good book, but old ways die hard, especially when the cultural hook is set so deep it’s hard to wriggle away. Especially when you grow up in the South, in church, and you’re a Daddy’s Girl and a natural born pleaser. It’s enough to keep a Southern lady like me in line.

Shut yo’ mouth!

But I didn’t want to shut my mouth. I wanted to write a good book. That meant I had to tell the truth. In my world, a nice girl rarely admits to painful truths, much less writes down the kinds of truths that make her chest burn. Writing about perversion, guilt, shame . . . family secrets, even when they aren’t my secrets (not exactly my secrets) made me squirm.

A Little Death In Dixie Whose death was it? Just a character’s death or the death of my good girl front? Both. And let me tell you…nothing is as hard as ripping away your own cover. Damn, that smarts.

So there’s the trap. After years of avoidance, I had to feel these awful, un-lady-like emotions and look nasty realities in the face because I wanted a toehold in the writing world.

Did I pull it off? I hope so. We’ll see how readers respond.

In the meantime, while I don’t actually own a red convertible, I drive one on occasion.

How do you make sure your nice girl persona gets out of the way of your dreams and ambitions?


Helen Brenna said...

Hi Lisa, welcome and congrats on your debut. What an absolutely STUNNING cover! Did you plan your matching blouse at the signing pictured here? LOL You look good!

This is so true - the good girl trap getting in the way of writing. And it has to be worse when you write suspense.

Alas, I have to good tricks - looking forward to seeing if anyone else does!

Betina Krahn said...

Lisa, welcome to the convertible! But it look to me like you might be up for the driver rotation here someday. And congrats on the new book and on shedding the "good girl" skin. . . and assuming a bigger, more productive one. I too, had to do that. . . and it was publishing that took me down that road. I still have a problem getting too weird or nasty, but I do write humor and historicals and romance, so that's not too far a stretch.

And I love that shot of you in the red Beemer. . . great choice of car to be seen in now and then! WE all need our wild days and to let the air blow through our hair now and then. Good luck with Death in Dixie-- sell a million!

KylieBrant said...

Welcome, Lisa! Cute post. I'm afraid I never had a good girl persona and it's far too late to cultivate one now!

The car is awesome, too, by the way! My Beemer convertible is black. I love it.

Debra Dixon said...

Heyya, Lisa!

Since I know the charming, Southern Belle side of you, and because I know just how ingrained the notion of being a lady is in the South, I so appreciate how hard you had to work to get to that honest place from which we write the most authentic material.

Also, I think it's a scream that Helen (who always looks fab) would notice right a way that you coordinated your look to the cover for your signing event.


Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- You have a black Beemer Convertible? Picture me all jealousness.

Lisa Turner said...

Hey, everyone!
Thanks for the warm welcome, and yes, Helen, good eye. The outfit's an almost spooky match to the cover. I bought it in a shop I mentioned in the book. Seemed appropriate. It's such a dead on match, I almost passed it by, but it's so comfy and hides all my figure flaws, so hey. . . you can't beat that with a stick.

Mz. Debra Dixon is responsible for the amazing cover. She can do ANYTHING! (yes you can, DD)

Keri Ford said...

I figure there's a time and a place to be a good girl. while write a steamy book is sooo not the place!

Beautiful cover!

Lisa Turner said...

You mentioned tricks to banish good-girlitis. . . loud rock n' roll can shift me right out of lady-like. Jack Kerouac and Peter Dexter's Paris Trout sharpen my inner eye. If I'm angry, I'm more likely to bite down and not let go of a scene until I'm wringing wet.
What makes you go-for-it??

Helen Brenna said...

A martini? lol I'm such a lightweight.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, and I LOVE that you found that blouse. hehehe

Anonymous said...

Hi! Great cover!

It's hard sometimes to stay in good girl mode when I just want to slap someone down for being an idiot (I think I may have had a Big Sister/Control Freak chip permanently installed in my brain when I was very young). That's my most recent brushing up against the good girl incident.

Good luck with your release!


Lisa Turner said...

Martinis! A Top Down Girl after my own heart. Love the vodka frozen and the glass chilled. Makes me feel all New Yorkish, which I'm not. Jack Daniels has that dirty, slap-yo-mama effect on me.

Lisa Turner said...

Hi, Cories:
Thanks for the cover comment. I get a little thrill each time I see it.

Cindy Gerard said...

GREAT cover Lisa and congrats on the debut!! The fun starts now!!

And you and Kylie can both go be cute in your Beemers together. Geesh. Talk about hot cars. I'm soooo jealous.

My hybrid just doesn't have pazazz!! :o)

Lisa Turner said...

Hi, Cindy:
After all the hard work, it HAS been fun. I didn't really expect that. We had a wonderful turnout for the signing, and I didn't make a fool of myself when I spoke. Folks actually laughed at my jokes. Yay!

But just to set the record straight--I drive a very sensible silver Highlander. The hot car belongs to my honey. He has ALWAYS driven a convertible.. . no mid-life crisis for my guy! That photo is of me dropping him off at the airport in Memphis.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa! We graduated from high school together (Laurie Lyon)! Thought you might like to know I am in a Book Club at FedEx and we've chosen to read your book next month! Wish you could come to our meeting if you're in town...would love to have you!