Sit With It.

Earlier this week 

I see a police officer berating a young child of color – he can’t be older than eight – in the school parking lot. He’s yelling, his shiny, decked-out car blocking a clear view of the two, only his black-soled feet visible from below. I can hear the anger in his voice, the sobs of the child, the air thick with the disbelief  as we – us parents in the car rider line – try to position our ears and eyes like nosy neighbors, trying to gather understanding of the situation. I put down my book and ask myself questions. Is the child restrained? I can’t tell. His Mother has come to collect him, so he’s safe, it’s all ok…? The police officer watches them leave, and the rage that remains on his face seems misplaced. In what world can an eight-year-old child cause such anger, such bitterness? The memory of his fury sits in my gut like a heavy stone.


My phone goes bing and an alert dips down onto my screen like a lead balloon. “School Shooting Underway in Florida” or some vague wording like that. The pest control guy is here, so I put the phone down and take a sip of water. I feel like I have to make pleasant-but-inconsequential chatter with him lest I seem rude or he calls my landlord or something – the worst a woman can do is be rude to a man hired to do a job – and school shootings do not make for lighthearted conversation. We talk about snow and mice and he tells me a story about a woman who called him because there was a dead possum rotting in her wall, but that’s not part of his job so he wasn’t able to remove it for her. I can’t tell if he’s relieved about that, or guilty. After he leaves, I go back to my phone. I make the mistake of watching a video. Then another. By the third, I’m wrenched with sobs, triggered, but I don’ t know why I’m triggered because triggered isn’t a thing that happens to me, or so I thought. I need to get up and cook Valentine’s dinner but I can’t move, I’m immobile, flattened, every last bit of energy and motivation gone from me like stale air, escaped from an old balloon. The students emerging, shell-shocked, from a bullet-laden high school holding their Valentine’s Day balloons, a holiday that is now forever ruined, that they will no longer associate with candy, flowers from Mom or think-pieces about capitalism, but with gunfire and blood.

It is fitting, in a way. Love and Violence are an uneasy marriage, but a marriage it is, whether you admit it or not. Hell, it’s even in the Bible.


A few days ago 

I read an article about a teenage girl who lives with her Dad, but while on visitation with her Mom, Mom gets her hair highlighted. It’s a special treat. She goes home and Dad is furious. Dad is a firefighter who has been arrested previously on domestic violence charges. He is a control freak who exacts revenge on the woman he can no longer abuse by using their daughter as a pawn. He had previously told his teenage girl that she couldn’t highlight her hair, and she and her Mom went behind his back. Naturally, he is furious. Isn’t his word supposed to be law?

He and his wife – the evil stepmother in this story, and let’s not unpack the fact that she may well be living in her own hell – drag the girl to Supercuts and force her to sit through a haircut. By the time the botch-job is done, the girl’s hair is one step from a buzzcut, gaps everywhere, and in accompanying photos, the girl holding her hand to her face to cover her humiliation and tears, the highlights are still visible. 

Some of the comments suggested there is more to the story, but does it matter? I don’t really think it does. Bits of the story are probably wrong, context not given, but we all know the gist by now.

 Fifteen years ago

I sit nervously on the edge of the straight-backed chair, as my partner paces. He’s on the phone with the vet. Our kitten, after a four-day hiatus, finally dragged himself home – literally – pulled himself through the lounge window with his front legs, and fell in a pile in front of us on the floor. We raced him to the vet, who kept him overnight, though we already know that his back is broken. Likely hit by a car, judging by the ragged splinters of his claws and the way his formerly straight body is now at an angle.

He hangs up the phone, walks over to me. We can go pick him up now; they are done with the tests. There is no internal damage, and he will live – but his back is broken. Since he’s a kitten, still growing, not yet neutered, he will need to be contained within our home for at least three months. He will wear a cone of shame and is not allowed to jump, as if we could stop him. I listen to this glassy-eyed, but relieved – I put far too much of my emotional wellbeing into this cat, he is all I have, in more ways than one, and all I need to hear is he will live and the rest is immaterial. To imagine such a little thing, only a few months old, his skinny, spindly little cat-self living through the impact of a heavy, blunt vehicle –

I’m still sighing in relief, a brief moment of respite, just a nanosecond, my guard let down, a thing that I rarely ever let happen anymore – I am usually a fortress, protected with moats and fences and walls so high, so impenetrable, my every thought and fear aimed outward, at the ready – but the relief is so great I forget.

The hand extends, the pale knuckles bright, lined with dark hair – so much hair for such a young man, I often think. I have wondered before if he has too much testosterone, what a preposterous, weird thing to wonder – I do not know if my eyes close from relief or if my eyes subconsciously note what will happen before my mind does, a kind of preemptive protection, but whatever, I am sightless as the hand connects with my face, the side of my cheek, just above my jaw, with a slap so hard it whips my head around and I fall off the straight-backed chair and to the thin carpet, much the same way my kitten fell to the floor from the window. The slap is so hard it feels like a punch. The slap is so hard I taste the color red. The slap is so hard that my face feels like it’s crawling with bees, buzzing from my cheek into my ear, my mouth, my eyelashes. My eyes are still closed and they stay that way, because why look?

In my relief I have forgotten about the cost. The bill. The money. Stupid me.

“Better he’d have died.” He says, but really his explanation is irrelevant, as I’ve already had the punishment. “But you’d never forgive me, and anyway, euthanizing him would probably cost even more.”

A worse betrayal than the slap is that deep down he loves the cat more than I do. I saw him pace the floors, waiting for him to come home. I saw the way his shoulders sagged with relief when he tumbled through the window. I know he’d pay every last penny to keep him alive.

But he has someone to blame, and I don’t. An outlet for his frustration. That’s just the way it is.

This morning

If I told you my former partner was a feminist, with an astounding IQ, from a middle class home with two loving parents and a number of friends, would you believe me?

If I reminded you the school shooter was failed by a system that forces boys into boxes, denies them emotions, tells them they are “owed” love and gives them permission to use their hands, would it matter? If I uttered the word “gun” would your eyes glaze over?

If most people side with the Dad who chopped off his daughter’s hair because “kids these days need to learn discipline”, would you be surprised? If it had been a son, do you think he’d have gotten the haircut?

If I told you the cop I saw berating a kid is beloved by the school and the kids literally cheer when he walks onto the playground, would you wrinkle your nose in confusion?

If I tell you that this long, emotional, chaotic piece of writing has no actual conclusion, that I won’t be tying these things together with a poignant, smart, but just-angry-enough ending paragraph that gives us cold comfort and inspires us to act, to hope, to believe that these things will stop happening one day, that the world can be better for our kids and for us, too, that there is still reason to have faith – but rather just left it like this, left you wondering, hurting, pissed off, the point lost somewhere in the middle, if I ever had it at all…just leaving this post open-ended and without a conclusion…leaving you to figure it out, do the math, try to find some meaning in all of this…

Well, then you’d know how I feel.

How so many of us feel.

Sit with it. We have been.


Becoming a Rock

This is self-indulgent. It’s okay – I’m a writer.

I’m walking. Down my wooded driveway in the crisp winter afternoon, earbuds in ears, hoodie pulled down low, hands in pockets. I am listening with my whole body. Each movement in step with a tune only I can hear. The footfall on the rocks, the slope of my neck, the way my ponytail whips in time, all a coordinated effort. The man singing in my ear hits fever pitch – a wailing, high falsetto that keens and spirals and splits the atom with its intensity, then it wavers, falling from the crescendo like trickling water in my eardrum.

I keep walking, but the girl deep down inside me fights the urge to slink to the ground, slithering and boneless, and curl up into a fetal ball. It’s a mental image I have often, and have never told anyone about. When I listen to music that really hits me there, I want to slide soundlessly to the ground and become a rock.

It’s ok. You can say it. Weird.

I’ve tried to explain. But how can you explain something as bright and as wordless as the stars?

Even as an itty bitty, I knew music (and Joan Jett) was everything.

There are so many avenues I could take to try and explain a thought process without a rhyme or reason. I could talk about synesthesia, the autism spectrum, anxiety and depression, that uneasy marriage – I could talk about the indulgent melancholy of being a writer, the ebb and the flow, the dark and the light, the way we flirt with the abyss, the way we crave distraction, always distraction –

So many words, phrases, paragraphs – stories inside of us, all. To write is to let out tales, a trickle at a time, bit by bit, a stream made of consciousness. To hold a book in your hand that you’ve written is the penultimate accomplishment, or so it feels, but if I can tell you this secret: no matter how many poems, stories, or books you write, you’re still full of letters. They trickle out of your ears, your eyes, your fingertips. Every person is a story waiting to be told, a page to be turned – every sound is waiting to be described – every feeling is in need of a narrator.

And while it is a blessing, this over-abundance of letters – just like any lake, if you swim too long in deep waters, you will tire and drown. You will need your life support. Music has always been mine, since the toddler years, when I sat in front of the stereo with my Dad’s too-big headphones dwarfing my face.

And indeed there will be time to wonder “do I dare?” 

I measure out my time in intervals of obsessions rather than ages. My memory grows fuzzy with so much of the past. I don’t remember much of 23, but I can tell you exactly where I was in Auckland when I first heard Salmonella Dub (riding in a black sedan with a guy named Bernard who was telling jokes while navigating down the hill in Parnell, headed towards Stanley Street, the sun glinting off the water ahead; like diamonds) and exactly how I felt. Every time I hear a pacific beat I think of my heart, too big for my chest. I think of the way the light is different there; I think of Bernard’s blond hair; I think of the smell of fish and chips.

Music is photographic, staining my insides like ink, an invisible tattoo to match the visible ones, of which I always crave another.

The other day, my friend Jennifer told me that every time she hears “I am the Highway” by Audioslave, she pictures me walking along listening to it, because I wrote about my experience with that song and it stuck with her. I was blown away, not only that she had read my random muttering praise, but that she had retained it, remembered it, associated it with me. I was touched.

From time to time I take to these digital pages and wax poetic about some artist who means everything to me in a way that must, to an outsider, seem like obsessive keening. How can I explain? How should I presume? Do you know I rein myself in? For my life is measured by muses, and god, have there been many. My current one, a tall, troubled drink of water with haunted eyes and vampiric trill, inspired an entire novel (Thanks, Pete).

I am in love with telling stories. So too do I love the storyteller. The sadder the story, the more I love you. Perhaps a storyteller that writes gothic odes to the moon and Bacchus, fairy tales about wolves, about druids, liturgies to the autumn months, when leaves are dying yet at their most beautiful. Who writes odes to cover pain, who has bitten off the matter with a smile. 

I was ruminating on this (read: navel gazing – us writers have it down to a science) obsessive nature to my aforementioned friend Jennifer – who I should note, is an absolute gem; a patient, lovely, sincere person who approaches friendship with her whole heart – in a stream of text messages. I’d been texting back and forth with her all day, sharing snippets of information I’d read about Peter Steele whilst falling down my latest wormhole. Because I do that, you know, I fall willingly in with my whole heart, my whole body, my whole soul, and then I bother the shit out of everyone. I have always been this way, but sometimes, I feel just a little bit weird about it. About me. I do not think they will sing to me.


I text Jen, “Other than David Bowie, I’ve never felt a kinship with an artist this strong.” I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, to feel so much. She responds that it is my compassion and empathetic nature that brings me down this road, that I feel such a kinship because I’ve felt the same pain, and I recognize the darkness. “It’s like a mutual empathy experience that he just doesn’t know he’s a part of.”

Those words hit such a chord, made such perfect sense to me, that I had to write it down. It’s no surprise that my friend Jen is an empath, too – how else would she have such perfect insight, and know exactly what to say?

I have known them all already known them all. Songs and words and notes and letters, reaching out from the ether, across time to a space where sincerity is allowed, and distance immaterial.

An artist whose sardonic meloncholy flirts with the room, words flying on gossamer wings, voice deep like good red wine. That tall drink of water who wears a mask to cover the mask that is also a mask; you need surgical tools to pry beneath, to see. These deadrockstars and their masks – they stay on even after their faces have returned to earth – thankfully, the voice makes it way through, and endures. The words shine a light in the dark, guide our way to shore, at least till human voices wake us, and we drown. 

The vulnerable, anxious empath in me reaches out and finds something to clasp. Something I recognize. Something that if it were not blinded by death and circumstance, might love me back, would understand.

It is the soundtrack to this story that is my true self, the one most people don’t see. The me singing loudly in the car, the me making footfalls down the path, the me with eyes open to a September sun or a wolf moon, depending on the day. Slithering to the ground, becoming a rock.

“Peter” means “Rock” 😉 
Poem sampled: The Love Song of J. Alfred Pruf(rock) (I had to) (Sorry)


Without Further Ado…

…I am very proud to announce that I am joining the team at Regal House Publishing, and they will be publishing my novel, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree in early 2019!

(I could have drawn that out a little more and been all suspenseful, but I’m wordy enough as it is and I’m much too excited for all that nonsense.)

Lillah Lawson @ Regal House Publishing


I’m very excited to be working with Jaynie and the rest of the team at Regal. They have helped me realize a life-long dream. I’m very proud of my work on both Aroha and Ka Kite, and I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world, but this feels like a culmination of my efforts and I couldn’t be more pleased. There’s something extra special about having your work chosen and put out there, helped along by lovers of the written word who have honed in their craft. I feel so lucky that Regal House has chosen to work with me.

Check out their website to peruse the amazing authors that make up their team and look at the beautiful books on offer! I can honestly say that I want to read them all (and probably will because you guys know I read like it’s my job, which I guess it kind of is). There you will also find their blog, by which they update regularly on their various events, projects and literary works coming down the line.

As always, you can keep up with me and my various doings on Twitter (@LillahLawson), Facebook ( and right here on this blog. I’ll be sure to update everyone as I go!

I’ll stop gushing now, but I’m just over the moon with this news, and I hope you’ll join me on my journey! I can’t wait for you to read Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree!


NaNo, Monarchs and Dead Rock Stars (updates and excerpts)

Hello darkness, my old friend.

That’s only partially accurate. I’m actually coming off an upswing of a weekend, and am still feeling rather warm and fuzzy. I hosted my first Friendsgiving, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years but never did, because it seemed so friggin’ daunting to make all that food and host a bunch of people, and anxiety is my ever constant companion. But somehow, despite my being there, it went well! I say any gathering with wine, tea, coffee and multiple flavors of pie is a success. My friend, who had never cooked a turkey before, just went all in and decided to deep fry a 20 lb bird on my porch (I am a vegetarian and hid my face in a pile of sweet potatoes), and nothing was blown up! Given  how I attract disasters like a magnet coated in hot glue, I consider the First Annual Friendsgiving officially a success.

And – I won #NaNoWriMo2017 yesterday! The book needs a lot – I mean A LOT A LOT – of revisions, because I am a pantser who types so fast that I make lots of typos, and I went hard on this one, just writing off the cuff, on autopilot, kind of a stream of consciousness thing, and I literally have no idea what the hell I wrote. I mean, I have a general idea, but…I went off the rails. And you know, after last year’s tome of a novel that I spent an entire year researching, with its heavy, historical subject matter and grim plot, I’m okay with that.

For those following at home, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is the book I’ve spent the past two years of my life researching and writing, and the past six months revising to the point that I actually thought I might end up in the Milledgeville Asylum myself from the stress (it’s actually no longer operational, thank god, but you get my point). In between bouts of fervent, rapid editing and chugging enough tea and antacids to kill a large horse, I’ve been pitching like crazy. And let me tell y’all: pitching is the most soul sucking, horrible experience in the world. While you’re assembling agents and publishing houses, it’s fun! You’ve got your cute little spreadsheet and your list of possibilities, and with every website and agent bio you read, you feel more and more confident that these people are going to love your book! How could they not? You’re a match made in heaven! And then you send 100 queries over the course of a few months and you get 60 rejections in in your inbox, and you realize that somewhere along the way your soul seized up and died in a grease fire of self-loathing.


Milledgeville Asylum/Central State Hospital, 2017

Did I mention I hate querying?

I’ve spoken at length about how I feel on self-publishing, and I still feel very strongly that it’s a viable option and spit in the eye of any book industry snob who tells me otherwise (fight me), but Monarchs is not a book that I ever meant to be self-published. Hence the soul-crushing querying, and participation in pitch contests, and generally wishing I had picked a different career.

Imposter syndrome notwithstanding, I just woke up one day and was like…”This book is going to make it. Somehow, I just feel that it is.” I still feel that way. There have been some signs. So I’m just sitting over here with my appendages crossed, because I put my everything into this book and I want it to be out there, living and breathing in the world. I hope to be able to update you all with good news very soon!

But for now, back to reality, and this year’s writing effort: .deadrockstar. This year’s effort is a lighthearted, dark and campy romp that fits firmly into the supernatural fantasy category. I have never, ever written in this genre. I am so out of my element, but damn, it was fun.


I need a goth translation of ‘how you durrin’?’

I’m still two chapters away from the conclusion, and it needs an ass ton of editing, so I really have no reason to share an excerpt with you all. It’ll be light years before it’s a book I’m shopping around, and therefore doesn’t need promoting. But hey, it’s Tuesday and my book is a cute little campy goth nugget and it was just Halloween and we all know that October and November are Peter Steele Month(s) and he was the main muse for the protagonist in this novel and I could go on, but let’s just say I WANT TO SHARE A BIT WITH YOU, and if you’ve read this far you deserve it, so here we go:

Continue reading


I Won’t Back Down

Among the seemingly endless cascade of “bad news” flooding us, it almost seems shallow, an indulgence, to pause and mourn the loss of Tom Petty. In this world so often fraught with compassion politics, it can be hard to take the time to gaze on “celebrity”, even if it’s to say goodbye to a prolific artist and performer who entertained us for decades.

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Tom Petty passed away at the worst possible time, and in a poignant, unfair way, the best possible time. Tom Petty’s death is a metaphor. The kind of obvious metaphor that makes you groan and snap the book shut; the kind of metaphor that seems so obvious you feel insulted. The fact that he kind of died twice, thanks to an overzealous media and the need to break bad news first, just seals the deal.

With some artists, you find it hard to say what their appeal was. It’s all mystique and performance, smoke and mirrors. Tom Petty was not that; rather the opposite. He was everyman, a genuine blonde-haired, blue-eyed slice of Americana delivered up on a plate – a plate decorated with mustard-yellow or olive-green flowers, because he was just that seventies. He was ordinary in looks, ordinary in stature, and he wrote the kind of easy bars and chord progressions that make you tap your feet and sing along without even realizing you’ve memorized the lyrics. I grew up on him, as many my age did; my stories are your stories. But I did love him, and god, who didn’t?

As I said on my Twitter this morning, Tom Petty taught me that a well-fitted jacket, a quirky hat and a simple, bittersweet lyric is all it takes to be the coolest person in the universe. His videos were surreal, but wholesome – he was doing Mad Hatter cosplay before cosplay was cool. Weird, a little androgynous, rebellious – but always palatable. Real. Effortless, easygoing, free. Everyman. Americana, sweet and tart like apple pie.


Americana. A term that describes something that doesn’t exist, if it ever did. Tom Petty wasn’t the first artist to sing about the “American Girl” and the time gone by, but he embodied its spirit more wholly than any other. He wrote about a lifestyle that was never really ours, what it might feel like to grasp it in your hand, the firecracker before the explosion. Cool and full of promise. That an artist like him should leave us, now, during this time, is grotesquely sad and terribly fitting. As the Spirit of America flakes off piece by piece, so goes the one artist who embodied it the most, and one of the few who always gave comfort.

It’s almost too sad to bear, if not for one thing.

Tom Petty was one of the good guys, y’all. Recently, in an interview he had many things to say about politics, the Confederate Flag, and the treatment of people of color in America. He got it. He understood. He was with us.

If we want to do anything to honor Tom Petty, and to honor the spirit of what America really could have been, before she passes like a ship in the night, we’ve got to stand up and do what’s right. We’ve got to keep standing, even when we’re too tired. Even when it seems hopeless.

Our song of 2017 should be one of Tom’s best (and most overplayed) songs: “I Won’t Back Down”. Let it be our rallying cry, our comfort, our reinforcement.

Well I won’t back down,

No, I won’t back down.

You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down. 

Well, I’ll stand my ground,

Won’t be turned around. 

Well, I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down, 

And I won’t back down. 

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out.

Hey, I stand my ground, and I won’t back down. 

Well, I know what’s right

I’ve got just one life.

In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around,

Well, I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down.

Rest easy, Tom.


Song of the South (I Am and Am Not)

15078567_10155146149822971_8765461081427573026_n.jpgI am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.

You can call me G.R.I.T.
And I will not sneer, for grit is in my blood,
and on my plate.

I am made up of these parts:

Let’s start with the leaves,
always the leaves, the maple, the oak, the
cologne of the pine, the delicate pink-white of the dogwood,
the crunching the crackle the whisper of burning leaves
(my Papa burned leaves in a huge metal can
the smell will stay with me the rest of my life)

I am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.
I the peach, juicy and heavy with nectar,
I am roasted parched peanuts at the flea market some morning,
heady with dew, a light fall breeze
Vidalias sweeter than apples,
Co-cola in a glass bottle, crusted with ice
I am humidity
I am rock, honey, wood, bone.

(Let us not forget the buried dead, the mountains and the creeks that house their bones; they were here before)

I am a Song of the South.
I am Georgia.
The clay of our earth so orange, it permeates, it stains
It rusts, our history
You can never wash it off, it is you, it us all of us.

I am the mountains, the sea, the cobblestone street,
I am Sunday School with butter cookies and divinity,
and soft-haired ladies with softer voices.

but softness does not disguise the pain, the violence,
lest we not forget, that war was fought and lost and we were on the wrong side, the wrong wrong wrong side

152 years is not so terribly long, but is incredibly long
to still be lost

I am a Song of the South, I am.
I am Georgia.
Here is what I am not:

I am not your flag.
I am not bars, or stars, or X’s or O’s –
I am not afraid of where angels tread.

To admit privilege does not wound me,
it frees me.
I am not married to the past.
I do not value history over pain.
I am not your hoods, your crosses,
your monuments of losses.
I am not just one color, one creed, one twang.
I do not seek to raise the dead,
and bend them to my will.
I am not a torch.

I am not a gun.

I am a butterfly, orange against the dusk.
I am the mountain tree, bending to the sun.
I am the firefly, lighting against the dark.
I am the peach, giving way to sweet.

I am the song of the south, I am.

You want to know that song
(but bless your heart)
You have forgotten the words
and cannot sing.

14222305_10154952562487971_4693823446784938105_nCopyright 2017 Lillah Lawson

#PimpMyBio for #PitchWars 2017

This is my first time participating in #pitchwars. I’ve done #pitmad, though, and I always, ALWAYS do #NaNoWriMo. I always say to myself, “You are too busy – do not add another contest, bloghop or open-entry period into the fray!” And then I’m up to my elbows in queries and synopses and forgetting to wear matching socks and leaving the oven on and have spilled coffee down my shirt and I wonder how I got here.



I have already submitted to #pitchwars, so I’m just (im)patiently waiting to hear if I’m going to get a shiny new mentor to guide me through the realm of the amateur and into the white-light of professional writer-dom. Nah, I’m not at all nervous, anxiously awaiting my fate, or anything like that. I’m chill af.


And now it’s time to #pimpmybio!

I’m a thirtysomething quirky nerd who lives in the boonies of north Georgia, where I was born and raised. Talk about your culture shock: when I was 21 I moved to New Zealand on a bit of a whim and ended up going to University there and living in the land of the long white cloud for 5 years. Needless to say, I’m a little bit country and a little bit antipodean rock and roll.


Not saying I’m HER or anything but that resting bitch face looks awfully familiar. I’m just missing one Eric Northman.

Things about me you might find interesting:

  • All my animals are named after literary characters
  • I have thirty five pairs of Converse shoes, and no, I don’t need help for my hoarding problem, thank you
  • I am descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • But I’m also descended from some guy named Etheldred who discovered gold and then gambled it all away in like a year, so
  • I have a David Bowie tattoo
  • I have synesthesia  
  • I still wear Love’s Baby Soft


And onto the writing:

I’ve written two novels, both of which are available via Amazon. Check ’em out! In addition to fiction, I write poetry and non-fiction, and I’ve also been known to fire off a few salty emails to lucky recipients from time to time. I’ve been writing since I was literally 8 years old, when I won a competition at school. I wrote about a Princess who didn’t need no damn Prince Charming, and saves herself. It was published in the local newspaper and I thought my short-lived fame tasted better than double-stuff Oreos. I’ve been chasing the dream ever since. I’ve been writing professionally (as in boring things like marketing copy, transcription and SEO posts) on and off for about ten years. My day-job is at a nutritional supplement company, which is actually more interesting than it sounds.

In addition to writing, I love cycling, genealogy, playing bass, baking, hiking, and sewing pillows. No, really. I watch way too much Golden Girls, I’m always trying to find different ways to make nachos, and I’m obsessed with dead rock stars. I have an eight-year old brilliant kid and my partner is a talented musician.

I gotta be honest – my fiction is ALL over the place. I write women’s fiction, historical fiction, the odd bit of fantasy, some comedy, and even a little bit of erotica from time to time. I have this big ol’ chip on my shoulder when it comes to authority (blame it on being the only-child of two Tauruses) and I really just loathe rules. I love so many genres, so I write in all of them. Historical fiction is what really gets my gears pumping, because all that glorious, glorious research! Immersing yourself in another time and space is so rewarding; finding the lessons that the past seeks to teach you. Which brings me to

And now onto what you’ve all been waiting for, the novel I submitted to #pitchwars:

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is set in the late 1920s/early 1930s, just at the start of the Great Depression, in Georgia. The story follows a simple cotton farmer named O.T. Lawrence, who just before Black Tuesday, loses everything he holds dear. Crazed and sinking into the bottle, he embarks on an odd journey – to find a young woman he hasn’t seen since he was 16 years old, the mysterious Sivvy Hargrove, who has been tucked away in the Milledgeville Asylum for over a decade.

I did extensive research for this novel, visiting the asylum on more than one occasion (an ancestor of mine was a patient there for two decades), as well as heavy research into the time period, politics and cultural atmosphere of the time.

BeFunky Collage

The novel is hist fic, more specifically, southern gothic. The asylum in Milledgeville is the quintessential southern gothic locale, after all (and the major inspiration for Flannery O’Connor!). It also explores themes central to the time period – racism, sexism and abuse, poverty, class warfare, and stigma against mental illness. It isn’t heavy-handed in its politics, but it does touch upon these issues. I’ve set out to write memorable characters, featuring especially strong women, and a couple of whom are laugh-out-loud funny.

This book has been a journey, a real work of heart. I interviewed my grandparents for this novel. I traveled to the mountains. I read all the Erskine Caldwell I could get my hands on. I just love every aspect of it. I’m so proud the story came through me.

And there you have it, folks. That’s me in a nutshell. Oh, and if you’d like to take a journey through my deranged brain, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@LillahLawson), Facebook ( or right here on this blog, which I update SUPER regularly (sike).

Kia Ora, till next time,