Sword & Silk is pleased to welcome Lillah Lawson.
Her novel, So Long, Bobby, is a New Adult Historical Fiction comparable to Fried Green Tomatoes and Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
A saga of mother's and daughters, set against the backdrop of the tumultuous sixties and grunge-soaked nineties.
Three generations of women face hardship and upheaval in the decades we wistfully remember – times of political upheaval, heartfelt music, and steadfast dreams. It is a story about how inherited trauma can break down whole families, how addiction can destroy, how not living your truth can sink you in despair…but how hope can always carry you back into the light.
Lillah Lawson is the author of two published novels: Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree (Regal House Publishing, 2019), a work of historical fiction set in 1930s Georgia, and Dead Rockstar (Parliament House Press, 2020), the first in a dark fantasy trilogy. The second in the series, The Wolfden, releases in February 2022. Lillah is most comfortable straddling literary genres, writing historical fiction, southern gothic, fantasy and what she calls “nerdy noir”; smart, thought-provoking horror. She has also published essays, poetry and short stories.
Lillah was a finalist for Georgia Author of the Year (2020) in the literary fiction category for her book Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree, and was a recipient of the UGA Willson Center/Flagpole Magazine’s Micro-Fellowship in 2020, with her short story Shoofly appearing in the University’s digital exhibit. The story features characters from her book Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree.
In addition to writing, Lillah is a history student, genealogist and lover of pop culture. She is currently writing a historical crime thriller. She lives just outside of Athens, Georgia.
An Introductory Interview with Lillah
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I'm a published author with two novels already out (three by the time So Long, Bobby is released!). Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree (2019; Regal House Publishing) is a work of southern gothic historical fiction and takes place in Depression-era Georgia; Dead Rockstar (2020; Parliament House Press) is a work of paranormal dark fantasy with a lot of steaminess! This book is the first in a trilogy, with the second title, The Wolfden, set to release on 2.22.22, and the third, Driftwood Dreary, TBA. I've also had short stories published in a few different places and you can find links to all of my work on my website at lillahlawson.com.
In addition to writing, I'm a genealogist, proud library board member, cyclist, bass player and amateur baker! I recently went back to college to get my BA in History! As you might've guessed, historical fiction is my favorite genre to write in. I live in North Georgia in a spooky log cabin in the holler with my husband, son and fur-friends.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
There's a train that runs through Madison County, GA - one particular part of the railroad tracks in the town of Colbert once was the site of an old general store run by my great-grandfather. I've always felt an affinity for that part of Georgia, since my family is from there (and my debut novel Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is set there, too). I wanted to write a book about mothers and daughters that deal with various hardships through the decades, with Colbert and Athens, GA as the backdrop. They experience all kinds of political turmoil, grief, heartbreak, etc...and the train just keeps on running. I see that train every day as I drive my kid to and from school. My husband grew up walking those same train tracks as a teen. I've always been fascinated by Senator Robert F. Kennedy and he ended up being the muse for the 1960s part of the book, with the mid-1990s part sort of patterned after my own childhood and teen years. It's really a love letter to a lot of special interests, and to the relationships that women have with each other. It's a book about everything but the kitchen sink!
What is your writing process? Plotter or Panster? Are you a morning or evening writer? What is your tried and true method for getting words on the page?
I'm both a plotter AND a pantser. It depends on the book. With my historical fiction and fantasy, I often have a rough outline and a TON of notes and research, and I just sort of loosely follow the guideline, allowing myself to deviate and change whenever necessary. I find it really hard to stick to an outline. That being said, with certain types of fiction, like horror and thrillers, you simply have to follow an outline because the pacing is key. You've got red herrings to drops, dramatic reveals, and so on. Without a plan, it can all fall apart. I prefer to write in the mornings, with a fresh cup of coffee and nobody home but me, so I can concentrate, but during NaNoWriMo I've definitely been known to lay in bed at night with my laptop, furiously trying to get that word count for the day! My advice for writer's block is if you need a break, take it. Forcing words isn't going to make it easier. Take time if you need it.
Authors often impart pieces of themselves into their stories. Which character best reflects you? Do you share any personality traits with your protagonist?
I share a little bit with most of my characters. I'm a lot of Stormy Spooner (from Dead Rockstar), and a little bit of Ella in So Long, Bobby. I feel a great affinity for her especially because she's lived a sheltered childhood and feels like she's missed out on so much because things were kept from her. When she finally tastes freedom, she doesn't know what to do with it. She's also a total grunge-girl, and I definitely was (and still am) a grunge girl myself!
What drew you to the historical fiction genre as an author?
I love History. It's funny to me that it took so long to realize I should go back to school and get my History degree. I was a history nerd even as a kid. I remember being given busy work to study the encyclopedias and write essays on WW2...it was meant to be a punishment but I enjoyed every minute. And I've been doing ancestry/genealogy for over twenty years now. I research it in depth, doing histories on every family member I can. History is my most favorite subject and I just can't get enough of it. Researching for my historical fiction books is every bit as enjoyable as actually writing them. There's something about escaping into the past that just makes me feel more alive. I feel like a time travelling scribe or something.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice what would it be?
That guy you've been crushing on since you met him at 4H camp at age 11 won't end up being all that great once you finally date him. Steer clear. Also, hang onto your JNCOs. Believe it or not, one day when you're an old crone, you'll wish you still had them. Lastly - you're prettier than you think you are.