PRESS RELEASE Hush, Swing, Hush
Mississippi Author/Illustrator Laurie Parker’s
Short Description: Set in Meridian, Mississippi in 2008, Hush, Swing, Hush is the third novel by author/artist Laurie Parker. Dee Loder, a forty-year-old divorcée and school librarian in Meridian, Mississippi has a lot on her plate in the spring of 2008. First and foremost, she is dealing with the ongoing challenges of being the mom of a special-needs child, an eleven-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome, whose dad is a loudmouthed high-school football coach and little help with their son. Then, when her book-hoarding father passes away suddenly, Dee, a book lover herself, is left to deal with both the memories of a man she never really knew, as well as the overwhelming number of boxes he crammed into the Craftsman bungalow in which she grew up. When handsome Leland Dixon arrives in town from Dallas, Texas with a guitar and a gallant willingness to help her out, things get rather dicey for this daughter of a mystery and mother of a misfit. Before she knows it, life begins dishing out a heaping helping of bombshells, and she is hit head-on with the heavy realization that she may have to rewrite more than just her own history.
Weidmann’s, the Dentzel Carousel, Highland Park, Village Fair Mall, Brookshires, Lonnie and Pat’s, the Threefoot Building, the 22nd Avenue Bridge, “The Subway,” the Echo Lounge, Merrehope, Poplar Springs Drive, Stuckey’s Bridge, Red Hot Truck Stop, Royal Land Amusement Park, and Watson’s Shoes are just a few of the places OLD and NEW that folks from the Meridian area will appreciate seeing mentioned in the context of a fictional story!
(Yonder Dove Press; Starkville, Mississippi; September 2015) – Mississippi wordsmith and collage artist Laurie Parker, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s rhyming favorites Everywhere in Mississippi, The Turtle Saver, It Really Said Christmas, and others, has again demonstrated the strength of the writing side of her twenty-three-year career in the arts by releasing her THIRD novel in as many years. She released the Matchstick Cross, her first novel, in 2013, and followed up in 2014 with her second, Yonder Breaks the Morning. The three novels are three distinct stories; they are not sequels.
Says Parker: “In 2013, I made the switch from ‘children’s books’ to ‘big-people books’ when I released The Matchstick Cross. Even though I always considered my rhyming books to be for both children AND adults, I was long-ago labeled a ‘children’s author.’ So although it was a major departure in the eyes of the public when I released my first novel, a 507 page book, it wasn’t so much for me. I was just doing what I’ve always done—crafting in words! But there were, of course, some differences in the process!”
Although she says she thoroughly enjoyed doing the children’s books, the Starkville native says that she found that writing a story in prose came so naturally to her with her first novel that she regrets she didn’t start doing novels years ago. So to make up for lost time, she has devoted the last two years of her life to crafting in prose! In September of 2014, she released her second southern novel, Yonder Breaks the Morning. As soon as she finished her Fall 2014 book-signing tour, she began putting her third novel on paper. And “putting it on paper” is literal; as with her two novels, she wrote Hush, Swing, Hush out longhand in pencil first! Parker states, “I HAVE to write that way! I need to be able to scribble notes in the margins and scratch things out. You can’t do that on a computer. So much of the old poet in me comes into play—even when I’m writing prose—and composing with words like that, for me, requires a pencil!” Parker never took typing, and uses only two fingers and looks at the keyboard when she types. She says her unorthodox typing method lends itself to a lot of errors that weren't in the handwritten version, and that searching for them and removing them is highly stressful for her! She finished her typewritten version of Hush, Swing, Hush at the end of May 2015 and spent the month if June and July editing and tweaking and checking for typos! As a grass-roots author, Parker is somewhat of a one-woman operation. She took the picture of the swing on the front of the book and designed her own jacket as well.
Parker says that she was very pleased with the title she came up with for her latest release. “Secrets are integral to this story, and I think the title Hush, Swing, Hush captures that while also conveying a southern feel. I’m big on all things southern, and have always loved swings! The saga takes place in the year 2008, and is set in Meridian for a very specific reason.” Parker explains: “My first two novels were set in Mississippi, and chances are I will continue to set any and all novels I pen in my home state. I love Mississippi, and like the idea of celebrating it through story. For my latest novel, I chose Meridian as my setting because of its historic Dentzel carousel. The carousel plays into a huge twist, a twist that was the basis for my writing the story. That being said, I can’t be any more specific without a spoiler! A small community named De Soto, which is south of Meridian, also comes to play in the story in a significant way—and is another reason Meridian was the perfect choice as a locale for my story. Of course, I realize that there will be Meridian folks who will have something to say about it being set there because Meridian is not my hometown. But they’ll have to get over it. It’s a book. It is set in Mississippi. It’s not about Meridian—it is about people. Once people read it, and see what the big twist is, they’ll understand why I chose Meridian!”
The writer says that this book will be harder for her than anything she has ever written to discuss because of the aforementioned “spoiler” factor. “My writing process for this novel began with having an idea that made for a great twist, and because my stories are always tightly woven, I have to speak carefully about the things that take place to not give something away. Not to be cryptic, but what this story ultimately ends up being about is a subject matter that I long ago once made a joke about—a joke to the effect that if I wrote a book about this particular subject, it would probably get published. It deals with a topic that I used to be annoyed by—something that I once thought people were “hung up on,” and needed to “get over.” Folks will understand what I mean after they’ve read it! It’s a subject that goes way beyond Meridian, or Mississippi.
Parker says that because she is self-published, she gets to do things she knows she wouldn’t with a big publisher. “They would likely tell me to water down my vocabulary and use simpler sentences. And maybe not make so many references to pop culture. But the way I write is the way I write. I love words and language and that’s the reason I enjoy putting out novels.” A lifelong lover of poetry, Parker states, “To me, not using my love for words would be like being an artist with tubes and tubes of paint in all shades and colors, and having someone tell you to stick to just red, green, and blue, and to paint only squares and circles—because those are the colors and shapes people recognize. When a ‘big word’ is used correctly in the context of a good story, a reader doesn’t have to know what it mean necessarily; he’ll know what it must mean. And if not—I’m not going to apologize! The world needs literary contributions to counter the rampant dumbing-down that is going on today! I tried to create an engaging story with relatable characters, and I endeavored to do so in a way that celebrates words and language.”
Parker states that as was the case with her first two novels, this third one is her way to counter and “fight back” against texting, Twitter, Facebook, and other such addictive activities that are damaging literacy and replacing reading (“or anything constructive or mind-enriching”) as an activity. By putting out something that people have to read, I am trying to get people away from that other stuff, if only for a while. In fact, some of the author’s sentiments about those very things are expressed by the story’s main character, Dee Loder, who is a school librarian and a bibliophile! The protagonist’s father is a book hoarder—so Parker was able to make many comments through her Hush, Swing, Hush characters about books, reading, literature.
The main character is also a single mom, and her son, Micah, has Asperger Syndrome. Parker says Micah is her “humor” character; she states that in each novel she has written, she always has one character she uses as a vehicle to introduce the element of humor into her story. Micah is a quirky child who speaks his mind, and is often funny when he isn’t necessarily trying to be. At one point in the story, his mother tells this story: “When Micah was about three and a half, we were at Boyette’s Fish Camp, and his daddy and I were trying to get him to eat slaw. He kept just stirring it around and he asked us, ‘Is this white juice in it the stuff they’re always talking about in church?’ We asked what he meant by that, and he said, ‘I thought the juice part might be lettuce spray.’ It took us a moment, but that was when we discovered that when he’d heard people in church saying, ‘Let us pray,’ he thought they were saying lettuce spray.”
Says the author, “Micah is something of a ‘little professor,’ and through his character, I was able to touch on some topics close to my own heart. In many ways I was classic a nerd when I was growing up. At one time, I was extremely passionate about rock collecting, and I also went through a phase in which I was heavily into entomology. So I enjoyed making my Micah character speak about insects and rocks! Having appreciated those things in my youth to the degree I did, I retained a lot of information that is otherwise useless in life. But as a writer, I have a place to ‘sprinkle’ it. “
Laurie Parker says that all three of her novels have these several things in common: they are very southern, they are written with a poetic attention to word choice, and they are meant to make the reader laugh AND cry—in other words, to move people.”
Hush, Swing, Hush, the third novel by Mississippi writer Laurie Parker,
Hardbound with a dust jacket and 499 pages, it retails for $28.00.
You can order through The Book Mart (662-323-2844).
Interested RETAILERS can get more information via private message on Facebook.
Good terms: no minimum, 50% discount and signed books are shipped media mail.
Laurie handwrites her books—the entire novel is written first in pencil, and she does two or three drafts of each chapter that way! Here, you are looking at the handwritten version of her first novel, The Matchstick Cross.
She penned Yonder Breaks the Morning and Hush, Swing, Hush
the same way.
Laurie got her cat Wordsworth from the
pound in March of 2006.
He is named for the poet, William Wordsworth.