Facing the Music
Publishers Weekly Talks with Lisa Tucker
by Kevin Howell -- March 17, 2003
What is "song reading" [as in The Song Reader, reviewed
on p. 50]?
Song reading is using songs to read someone's heart. A palm reader uses
palms, a tarot card reader uses tarot cards.
A song reader uses the songs a customer is
haunted by to discover what the customer really fears, wants, desires.
PW: How did you come up with
LT: I think
everybody senses that music has something to do with memory. When you're
driving down the street and hear a
song from a high school dance on the radio,
you find yourself thinking about that dance. The song triggers the memory,
in the same way that the smell of chalk can make you think of your
first-grade class. I came up with the
idea of song reading when I realized these triggers wouldn't have to come
from outside ourselves. We don't normally find ourselves smelling chalk
for no reason, but we can find ourselves humming a song we haven't heard
in years for no obvious reason. I couldn't help wondering: why that
particular song? Why now? Could the song have entered your mind at this
point in your life because it was telling you something you needed to
a fascinating idea, but you've also built a multilayered, suspenseful
family drama around it.
wanted the novel to explore what it means for someone to have a gift like
Mary Beth does. Her younger sister, Leeann, starts out thinking nothing
bad can happen because Mary Beth is helping people. She finds out that the
world is a lot more complicated and that her own family is much more
troubled than she knew.
Song Reader is a page-turner. Did you set out to write a novel with a
novels I love most work on many levels: they have beautiful language and
memorable characters, but they also have a fascinating story. I think
stories have always been important to readers, and probably always will
be. Even great authors like Toni Morrison, Russell Banks and Barbara
Kingsolver maintain their dedicated readers, in part, because they
continue to have stories to tell.
You're published by Pocket Book's new imprint, Downtown Press, which is
geared toward attracting women readers. Is that your primary audience?
remember reading somewhere that 80% of novels are purchased by women. If
this is true, then most books have a primarily female audience, including
mine. That said, I've had a very positive response from male readers, and
I think the song reading in particular is interesting to both men and
women. Also, I think the quest to find understanding and forgiveness
within a troubled family has universal appeal. What matters is that the
characters are identifiable to readers so they get pulled into the story.
did you turn down a hardcover offer in favor of a trade paperback
though I'd heard that it's harder to get reviews in a trade paperback
format, in the end, it wasn't a choice for me. I wanted my book to be
affordable so that people like the characters in the novel could afford to
buy it. It's too bad, but very few people I know can just plunk down
$23.95 for a hardcover anymore, especially if the writer is an unknown. My
hope is that many more readers will feel they can take a chance on The
Song Reader because it's relatively inexpensive. Booksellers can
recommend it to their customers more readily; book clubs can choose it
whenever it interests them. The novel will have an easier time making its
way into the world.
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