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Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome Author Murray Tillman

1. Where do you hail from?  What do you love most about your hometown?
          I was born in Birmingham, Alabama.  When I was nine years old, my family moved to Columbus, Georgia.  I attended grammar school and high school there and later returned to teach in the public schools for a year.  So, I think of myself as having two hometowns.  I loved the big city bustle of Birmingham, the clanky trolley cars, the smell of the Merita bakery near our house, and the big storm sewer across the street where we could hunt for crawfish.  Columbus, to my surprise, had clean air, soldiers in khaki uniforms wandering around downtown, and a den of iniquity, Phenix City, Alabama, just across the Chattahoochee River.  Today, I enjoy going back to both cities and step back, it almost seems to me, into another time in my life.
2. How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
          As far as writing Meet Me on the Paisley Roof is concerned, I literally took my environment with me.  The book is set in Columbus, Georgia , and in the story I name streets I walked and rode over, schools I attended, a church I joined, a cotton gin company where I used to work, and so forth.
          Why use Columbus as the setting?  The major threads of the story were intertwined in the setting itself.  If I move the setting, I would have to change the story, a story that just flowed in my mind across the landscapes of my growing-up years.  I did not pick Columbus so much as Columbus came along with the story.  Of course, the story is fictional, but one that plays on a borrowed stage.
3. Tell us about your latest book.
          Meet Me on the Paisley Roof is a humorous novel, one that lets you really get to know the characters.  The tale is narrated by the 16-year-old Trussell Jones so this is his story.  If I could use an analogy from cooking, there are four ingredients in the story:  SPICY, HOT, SWEET, and MYSTERY.
1. SPICY:  You have three teenage boys full of energy and mischief who like to tease and test one another.  They have a long history of planning adventures and then launching themselves at neighborhood targets, especially at night.
2. HOT:  I mean hot in the sense of conflict and danger.  The boys have difficult family relationships.   For example, Trussell's stepmother, with no parenting skills and nutty to boot, has purchased a .38 revolver to meet the mounting threats in her life including, she thinks, Trussell.
3. SWEET:  Trussell hopes for love with Ellen.  But first, he has to speak to her, which he finally manages after a scare from the seductive Trudy.
4. MYSTERY:  The boys confront problems they haven't encountered before.  What do you do when a motorcycle, with the key intact, appears behind your garage?
          Mix these ingredients in differing amounts to form the different chapters.  Add a little thyme for reading (I apologize) and you have a laugh-out-loud tale of teens seeking adventure and love in the hot summer of 1956.
4. How did you come up with the title for your book?
          Everyone, even the little dog next door, knew that the working title of the manuscript, The Goodbye Miracle, needed changing.  Taking a cue from the cover art, which showed three boys in silhouette sitting on a garage roof looking at a big moon, my wife Dorris proposed Meet Me on the Ridgepole. "What's a ridgepole?" I shouted, rolling on the floor with laughter.  After a brief give and take (and my apology for the floor scene), we decided that maybe "roof" would be a more familiar term.  But Meet Me on the Garage Roof still lacked that umph we were looking for.  Dorris suggested we replace "garage" with a word that had a double meaning, a family's name and also "something else."  Yes, a great strategy, but an hour later we hadn't come up with that magic word.  In desperation I picked up the telephone book and began searching through names.  When I arrived at the "P's", I saw it.  "Paisley!" I announced, "how about that?" "Yes!" we both chimed. "That's it."  Dorris reached for the phone book.  "Actually, the name is Pasley," she said.  But what the heck!  I could never spell anyway!
 5. How much of your work is real?  How much is fantasy?
          In answering Question 2, I mentioned that the setting for Meet Me on the Paisley Roof was Columbus, Georgia, summer of 1956.  So that's real.  The story has close parallels to my own life.  For example, at the time of this story, my parents were dead, I lived with my stepmother, studied piano, adored a girl who lived directly behind our house, and slipped out at night to join my friends in various adventures.  All of this is a part of the story line.  Yet, the story and characters are fictional.
          Friends of mine who have read the book sometimes say "I didn't know you had such a difficult time when you were growing up!"  Then, I have to assure them I didn't come close to having the problems that Trussell did.  In other words, most of those things never happened to me.
          Of course, there were a few specific incidents that did.  For example, the "great turkey fling" (boys battling each other with dried turkey manure) did indeed happen.  And it was an exciting experience, a game with real consequences, which I would recommend to anyone, especially teens.  I also stole my stepmother's car, multiple times at night, abetted by longtime pals.  Now that I would not recommend.
          So, this story is not a memoir of my adolescent days.  In some ways, it's more of a story of how I wish things might have been.
6. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
          As a technical writer for many years, I had developed a workable writing strategy.  Define the goals and select a specific technique for a particular goal.  For example, to guide a person through a procedure, use flowcharts or checklists in the text.  When I decided to write a novel, however, I faced for the first time the challenge of helping the reader find a satisfying emotional experience as they read.  That was an entirely different task.
          For me, the biggest writing challenge I had was making the transition from technical to creative writing.  I must cite the book by Brenda Ueland titled If You Want to Write:  A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.  Her thoughts were really more about the nature of consciousness and creativity than the "act of writing."  The experience of reading this book, more than anything else I did, helped orient me in this new way of writing.
          For Brenda Ueland, creative writing is based on "no thinking," on letting go, and moving, so it seems, into another plane of consciousness.  Writing becomes an act of discovery.  That's my challenge and that's what I try to do.
7. Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
          Yes.  I go for the real events, especially by looking at newspapers, magazines, talking with people, and visiting sites.  Before I wrote a word of Meet Me on the Paisley Roof, I read most of the Columbus, Georgia newspapers from the summer of 1956.  It gave me a sense of the times, how much groceries cost, what movies were playing, what problems local people were having.  I also read two books about Columbus, Georgia history.  Before I wrote a chapter that sent Trussell to the First Baptist Church, my boyhood church home, I went to Columbus and attended a Sunday service.  Relatives and friends who lived in or near Columbus answered any specific questions I had.
          I also try to avoid doing research by addressing topics I already know about.  For example, I play the piano and adore the Beethoven piano sonatas.  That was in the book.  I was already knowledgeable about the American Volunteer Group (the AVG or "Flying Tigers") in World War II.  That was in the book.  I already knew how to disconnect a speedometer cable on a '53 Plymouth.  That was in the book.  Oops!  And be careful what information you share with others.
8. Where can we find out more about your book?
          The Mini-Blog tour site set up by Tribute Books has a listing of all the major links you might need: http://meetmeonthepaisleyroof.blogspot.com/, including my e-mail address, web site, Facebook page, and book purchase information.
          If you have a question about the book or about writing in general, there are several ways to contact me:  my e-mail address, web site e-mail, or Facebook page.  Question or not, I hope you will visit the Facebook site and say hello, leave a comment, and by all means "like" it.          
         Meet Me on the Paisley Roof web site:
Meet Me on the Paisley Roof Facebook:

Murray Tillman Facebook:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Meet Me on the Paisley Roof blog tour site:

Book Summary
Trussell Jones has a problem. He is crazy in love with a beautiful girl named Ellen. The problem? He has no car. His stepmother, who believes that she is spiritually connected to Queen Victoria, won't let him drive. Furthermore, she is afraid Trussell is trying to kill her. Not to be overlooked is the fact that Trussell is being pursued by a gang of armed redneck motorcycle hoods, while his neighbors are preoccupied with changing visions of St. Francis. Just another heartwarming tale of a boy in love with a girl? Hardly.

This delightfully quixotic coming-of-age story, set in Columbus, Georgia in the 1950s, truly has something to shock and beguile even the most jaded reader. Its irreverent protagonist will take you on a road trip of hits, near misses, twists, and sudden turns that ll set you on your ear. You ll be unable to put the book down, until you reach its charming yet totally unpredictable conclusion.

Murray Tillman's Bio:
Murray Tillman is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia and formerly Chair of the Department of Instructional Technology in the College of Education. He has authored several texts that assist teachers in using instructional design tools and has developed training manuals and courses for businesses and human service agents. Murray is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Georgia. Meet Me on the Paisley Roof is his debut novel.

Price: $14.95 
ISBN: 9780982093832 
Pages: 316
Release: August 2009

Amazon buy link ($14.95)

Barnes&Noble.com buy link ($14.95)

MyBookOrders.com buy link ($11.50)

Blog Tour Schedule:
December 1
Bibliophilic Book Blog

December 2
Minding Spot
You Gotta Read Reviews Guest Blog

December 5
The Book Connection

December 6
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

December 7
Reviews by Molly

December 8
Once Upon a Twilight

December 9
Broken Teepee

December 12
Bea's Book Nook

December 13
Proud Book Nerd

December 14
Life in Review

December 15
I Read Banned Books

1 comment:

Tribute Books said...

Brynna, thanks for hosting Murray today. It was fun reading about how he set the book in his hometown and of course - the ingredients of Spicy, Hot, Sweet and Mystery - were a nice touch.