Liza Palmer joins the SheKnows Book Lounge to talk about her new book Nowhere but Home, the difference between writing novels and writing for TV and death row research.
SheKnows: You’re active on Twitter, can you give us the 140 characters or less synopsis of Nowhere but Home?
Liza Palmer: Liza Palmer’s Nowhere but Home is about a failed chef who must return to her Texas hometown where they still remember EVERYTHING.
SK: Where did the idea of making Queenie the chef who cooks last meals for death row inmates come from? Did you have to do a lot of research into that?
LP: I was in NYC having lunch with a friend and they asked me if I’d ever thought of writing a book about a woman who makes last meals. Of course, I said… uh, no. But, then I couldn’t stop thinking about the prospect. By the time I’d left New York, I had a proposal ready to go.
I did a ton of research. I ran everything — every saying, every off-handed word — by my Amarillo-born mother and a friend’s mom who was born and bred in Texas. All the food — every morsel — was run through the same checks and balances. I needed this book to be authentic. And all the death row research… needless to say, I’m happy to be out of that world. Intense and grizzly.
SK: Queenie is a very well-developed character with a strong voice. How did you go about creating her? Is any part of her based on any people you know?
LP: Writing layered characters, for me, is all about the re-writing process. It’s about writing draft after draft, tinkering and shading. A character is not going to reveal themselves to you after one draft.
Seeing as how I’m a mole person and only really know a handful of people, I’m afraid basing characters on people I know is a bit out of the question. It’s imagination and craft for me, I’m afraid.
SK: You received two Emmy nominations for your writing on the first season of VH1’s Pop Up Video. How do you approach writing novels versus writing for television?
LP: Writing novels is a very solitary endeavor, while writing for TV is far more interactive. Even with those outward differences, they’re still oddly similar.
Storytelling is storytelling.
SK: What books are on your nightstand at the moment?
LP: I’m currently reading As You Like It by Shakespeare. I’m in a book club and we’re reading Shakespeare in order. We’re on the cusp of some of his greatest works… I can’t wait.