I love Ole Miss. That shouldn’t be considered a far-fetched remark, especially in Mississippi, but it might come as a surprise if you knew my alma mater. I Roll with the Tide. Always have, always will. Then why the allegiance to the Rebs, you might ask? The answer is pretty simple. I’m a born and bred Memphian, raised like so many others in the River City to love Ole Miss from birth. I’m not sure if that’s because of the close proximity to Oxford or the author David L. Cohn’s quote about the Mississippi Delta: “it begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg.” More likely it’s probably because of the many generations of Memphians who have attended Ole Miss. Either way, I flat love a Hotty Toddy. So much so that I created a Memphis-born co-ed protagonist who, naturally, attends Ole Miss. Leelee Satterfield is the star of all three of my novels: Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie and my latest, Southern as a Second Language. Leelee constantly finds herself in hot water. Her adventures inevitably become misadventures and calamity seems to take up residence no matter where she roams. When Leelee and her three best Memphis girlfriends make a trip to Oxford for the Egg Bowl, heat rises in the Grove despite the November air.
In Southern as a Second Language, Leelee is forced to examine the idiosyncrasies of the South after her Yankee (said with a whisper) boyfriend Peter follows her to Memphis. Having lived in “the frozen wastelands of the N’awth,” as Leelee’s father called it, specifically Vermont, she knows first hand the quirks of that region. The most preposterous to Leelee being the fact that New Englanders don’t bury their dead in the winter. The ground’s frozen solid. This horrific discovery happened when Leelee’s beloved pet Yorky, Princess Grace Kelly, dropped dead in the middle of January. Forever pertinacious, she was determined to give her pooch a proper burial with a funeral even if it meant renting a jackhammer.
Turnabout should be fair play, at least in my Whistlin’ Dixie series. When Peter points out that Southerners would rather run an ultra marathon than be confrontational about anything, Leelee has to confront some of her own peculiarities, or shall I say eccentricities, the latter sounding much more southern belleish. When my heroine is faced with having to tell Riley, her next-door-neighbor who sells Pampered Chef and Tupperware for a living, that he isn’t right for the sous chef position of her new restaurant, she instead tells him a little white lie, or as she calls it – “a harmless little fib meant to spare his feelings.” If we’re honest, that’s another southern trait we Rebs would rather brush under the rug. We abhor conflict and never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We’re raised to be friendly and polite, hospitable at the core. Leelee Satterfield is no different. And neither am I.
Despite what some Yankees might call subterfuge, I’m proud to be a Southerner. Always have been. Always will be. Hotty Toddy!
**Lisa Patton will read and sign copies of her trilogy at Square Books Friday October 25th at 5PM**
Lisa Patton spent over twenty years in the music industry before discovering her passion for novel writing and is now the bestselling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter and Yankee Doodle Dixie. Born and raised in Memphis, Lisa spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South.The proud mother of two sons, Lisa lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband and a little Havanese pooch named Rosie.