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Lisa Tucker Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Lisa Tucker
© Image House/Bob Godwin

Lisa Tucker

An interview with Lisa Tucker

Lisa Tucker discusses the theory behind The Song Reader, her own song reading experiences, and how nineteenth-century American writers inspired her own story line.

Song reading is such an unusual idea. Can you tell us how you came up with it?
Like most writers, I've always been fascinated with words, but growing up, we didn't have many books. We didn't even have magazines, but we always had a record player. My earliest relationship with words was through songs, and I've found that's true for a surprising number of people. The specific idea of song reading came to me about ten years ago, when I became very interested in psychology, especially how memory works. When it hit me that the songs people remember may say something about them, I decided to test the theory on my family and friends, just like Mary Beth does in the novel.


You've done song reading yourself then?

Yes, but I've never made any money for it, or even received afghans and cakes like she does! Some of the charts in the book were developed from my experiences; most are invented. Of course now that I've written this novel, I'm always being asked questions about songs and I love that. When people tell me about their music—favorite songs, favorite bands, the songs they can't forget—I feel very honored. I know they are entrusting me with a little piece of their heart.


Why did you decide to write about two sisters? Do you have a sister? Is the novel in any sense autobiographical?

I decided to write about two sisters because that's what the narrator, Leeann, was interested in talking about. It sounds odd, but the voice really does control a lot more of the story than I understood before I became a writer. Once I heard Leeann speaking to me, I had to follow her around, see what she would show me next. That said, I've always been interested in sisters, because I think it's such a complicated bond. The novel isn't autobiographical except to the extent that I adore my own sister and am grateful to her for believing in me and helping me understand the meaning of family.


The Song Reader is very lyrical, but it also has been called a page-turner. Was having a strong story line important to you as a writer?

Yes, definitely, because the novels I love the most work on many levels; they have beautiful language and memorable characters, but they also have a great plot. In graduate school I studied nineteenth-century American writers like Hawthorne and Melville — and those writers told stories! Moby Dick isn't just a treatise on language; it's an adventure story about a whale hunt. The Scarlet Letter isn't only about American history; it's also a beautiful tale of forbidden love. Some writers claim the traditional story form is dead, but I couldn't disagree more. I think we will always need new stories; they give shape and meaning to our lives.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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Books by this Author

Books by Lisa Tucker at BookBrowse
The Promised World jacket The Cure for Modern Life jacket The Song Reader jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Lisa Tucker but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, activist, and professor. Her work has been published in over fifty magazines, including The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and included in The Best American... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Song Reader

    Try:
    Queen of Dreams
    by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

  • Dayna Dunbar

    Dayna Dunbar

    Dayna Dunbar is a native Oklahoman who currently makes her home in Santa Monica, CA. She grew up in Yukon, a tightly knit farming and grain-milling town in Oklahoma, where most folks were relatives or family friends. This ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Song Reader

    Try:
    The Saints and Sinners of Okay County
    by Dayna Dunbar

We recommend 4 similar authors

View all 4 Read-Alikes

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