- Published: 14 September 2011 14 September 2011
YANKEE DOODLE DIXIE is all the convincing a person needs to know that sweet-tea runs through author Lisa Patton’s veins and humor keeps it coursing.
Leelee Satterfield has moved back home to Memphis after her two-timing ex-of-a-husband carried her off-up-North. It seems Leelee wears trouble like a pair of well-worn boots. YANKEE DOODLE DIXIE reminds readers why we all owe our girlfriends – because they help us laugh at ourselves. Join author Karen Spears Zacharias as she visits with author Lisa Patton about motherhood, money, music and men.
KAREN: Leelee Satterfield is a mess, as my kinfolk would say. A good-hearted woman but not the wisest decision-maker when it comes to matters of the heart. That seems to be a pretty common theme, not only in books, but in real-life. Why do you think so many good-hearted people have such difficulty in their love-lives?
LISA: I've thought about this quite a bit. I'm one of those people who make decisions with my heart but I know plenty of people who make them based on logic. When I took the Myers Briggs personality test it really opened my eyes to the complexities of matters of the heart. I think those of us who fall into the "feeling" category sometimes tend to forget to look at the rational side of love. Do we have the same values? Will my spouse be the kind of father or mother I need him or her to be? It's so easy to get caught up in the early physical attraction that we forget about life after the honeymoon. Leelee's a sucker for a pretty face but at 34, aren't we all? By the way, we still call people messes here in Tennessee. It's one of my favorite terms of endearment.
KAREN: Like YANKEE DOODLE DIXIE’s main character, Leelee, you’ve been a single mom. What was the most challenging thing you had to face raising two boys by your lonesome?
LISA: Having to be mom and dad at the same time was the hardest part. I think single moms lose some tenderness with their children because they always have to be the bad guy, the disciplinarian, always the one having to turn off the video games. On a lighter note, I grew up in a home with four girls, went to an all-girls school and knew absolutely nothing about boys. I'll never forget the time my son's baseball coach told me that Michael would be catcher at the next game and that I should get him a cup. Very innocently I asked if it should be paper or plastic and if it should have his name on it. Fifteen years later, I can still see the astonishment wash over Coach Jim's face.
KAREN: Do you recall the first time someone asked you what you did and you replied, “I’m a writer”? How comfortable were you in uttering those words?
LISA: It happened only recently. I always told myself that I had to have two books behind me before I could legitimately claim that title. I give walking tours of my hometown in Franklin, Tennessee and a lady on my tour asked me what else I did for a living. I loved being able to hold my head up and smile before uttering those three beautiful words.
KAREN: Tell us about your writing process. Do you follow a routine? Do you have a lucky rabbit’s foot you keep nearby?
LISA: I wish I was a routine-girl but that's just not the case. Mornings work best. Sometimes I go to the library and other days I'll stay home with my little dog, Rosie, to keep me company. I'll write 18 hours a day when I'm closing in on the finish line but when I'm eking out the first draft I'm lucky to get in three hours per day. That first draft makes me crazy! No lucky charms, just lots of prayer. Spending time alone is not something I enjoy so I need all the prayers I can get.
KAREN: What do you think is the biggest misconception others make about writers? How do you deal with that?
LISA: I find that people think all writers are rich and that we're rolling in the dough. I don't mean to speak for all writers, I know some have reached that status, but most of my writer friends have not. When people make mention of my fat wallet I try to joke it off and say, "That's one of the many things JK and I do not have in common."
KAREN: I love the way you’ve woven so many beloved tunes and artists into Leelee’s story. I just have to know – what is your favorite James Taylor song?
LISA: I'm a child of the 60s and 70s and music was and still is one of my life's anchors. James might be the captain, well, either he or Paul McCartney, or CSNY or Marvin Gaye, or, or, or, the list is too long. My favorite JT song would have to be either "You Can Close Your Eyes," or the old standard "Fire and Rain." Even though I've heard it five thousand plus times, it's still tireless. I love it.
KAREN: Friendship is the harbor that Leelee returns to whenever she feels discombobulated or threatened. That’s true for a lot of women but we know as women marry, have children and age, they have a tendency to become more isolated. Any tips for how you’ve managed to maintain your long-lasting friendships?
LISA: We plan trips together now that our children are grown. We went through a time when the kids were little where we didn't see as much of each other. Like you say, we tend to become more isolated and stick closer to our families. My friends and I also celebrate birthdays and Christmases by having lunches or dinners and we make a point to make it to the reunions. We're all at the beach together now and I gave them each a copy of my book. It's so much fun watching the expressions on their faces while they are reading.
KAREN: You've worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. Are the scenes from the book drawn from real life situations?
LISA: 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.
KAREN: What are you working on next?
LISA: Leelee and her friends are way too much fun to leave with only two stories. I don't think I could leave them at this point. I'm writing the third book in the series now.