TributeBooks Blog Tour Guest Post: Meet On The Paisley Roof’s Murray Tillman

Posted 7 December, 2011 by Molly(Cover To Cover Cafe) in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Meet Me On The Paisley Roof
316 pages
August 2009

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.

 Something Borrowed, Something New:  Writing
the Autobiographical Novel
by Murray Tillman

The story that I wrote in Meet Me on the Paisley Roof had 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 part of the story line.  Yet, the story and characters are fictional.  So, how did I draw from the real to create the fictional?(1) I borrowed a stage.  That stage was the place I grew up, Columbus, Georgia, and my old neighborhood.  Specific “props” just stood out in importance:  my house, the neighbor’s garage roof, and the “office area” inside my garage.  I put all three props in Chapter One to give the reader the same perspective that Trussell, the sixteen-year-old narrator of the story, had.  Local schools, churches, businesses were also included, as were a few new “props.”

(2) I borrowed character motivation.  In my teen years, I had three major goals:  keep the peace with my stepmother; start dating the girl I adored, and support and test my two close friends.  Those became Trussell’s goals.   To develop other characters, I just looked around my teen world for motivational possibilities.  Neighbors were incredibly supportive and loving, just like family.  Some friends were risk takers, prone to action, ready to go, impulsive.  Others were thinkers, sensitive to their own feelings and the feelings of others, but slow to act.  Some adults meant well but invariably gave poor advice.  Some people, when frustrated, became defensive and aggressive; others, sensible and determined.  Now there’s enough motivation for several novels.
(3) I borrowed from out-of-the-ordinary events.   Who doesn’t remember doing some goofy things in their growing up years?  It may have been leaping off the garage roof into a neighbor’s new goldfish pond.  Not bad, but what about walking around the corner of your house with two friends and finding a huge pile of dried turkey manure?  Wonder what happened?  It’s in Chapter One.  Or, you are not allowed to drive the family car so at night, while everyone else sleeps, you decide to go for a spin?   Wonder what happened?  It’s in Chapter Five.  
(4) I add a new ingredient, causality.  So far, a story based on items 1 – 3 might produce something close to a memoir, in other words, a chronology of events from my life.  But as you begin to order and arrange events in the story, causal links develop, and a plot begins to emerge.  These events require additional scenes, most of which never happened.  In short, once the story got cranked up with a few real-world references, the fictional world quickly took over.
The starting point for this story was drinking again from the well of feelings about my teenage years:  a seemingly impossible love; friends who love, support, and test one another; and music that would send your soul soaring.  Staying close to the real events from my own life kept me focused and helped another story take wing.

About the Author:
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.

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