• Where—near Kansas City, Missouri, USA
• Education—B.A., University of Pennsylvania; M.A.'s, U of
Penn and Villanova University
• Currently—lives in both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Lisa Tucker grew up in a small town in Missouri and held a string of odd jobs before becoming a writer. In her novels, Tucker's dedication to storytelling is evident; her tender, engrossing plotlines infused with wit keep readers turning the pages.
In 2003, Tucker burst upon the scene with The Song Reader, a moving coming-of-age drama that resonated as much with adolescents as with adult readers. The novel's narrator, a vulnerable preteen named Leeann Norris, recounts the story of her adored older sister Mary Beth, a hardworking young woman who supports them both after their mother's death by waiting tables and reading songs—that is, interpreting the events in people's lives by analyzing the songs they can't get out of their heads. When this extraordinary gift turns inward and a devastating family secret is revealed, Leeann must reach inside herself to save the sister she loves. Selected by Book Sense for its 2004-2005 reading group, The Song Reader received glowing reviews, and Tucker was hailed as "a brilliant new literary talent" (The Albuquerque Tribune).
Since her bestselling debut, Tucker has gone on to craft more compelling, emotionally nuanced novels that have garnered praise from sundry quarters. Her work has appeared in Seventeen magazine, Pages, and The Oxford American; and her short story "Why Go" (inspired by the classic Pearl Jam tune) was included in Lit Riffs: Writers "Cover" Songs They Love, an anthology of music-related fiction by Jonathan Lethem, Tom Perotta, and other contemporary writers.
Her novel, The Cure for Modern Life, was published in 2008.
Tucker is also a talented teacher who has taught creative writing at the Taos Conference, at UCLA, and at the University of Pennsylvania.
From 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:
• I started writing fiction in 1995 for no other reason than that I loved reading it. I'd never had a creative writing course or attended a workshop; I didn't know any writers. I still feel there's something so magical about just plunging in and learning the craft as you go.
• I've had a lot of jobs. Probably the most unusual things I've done are touring the Midwest and South with a jazz band and teaching math at an urban community college.
• Of all the nice things that have been said about my novels in reviews, I think Frank Wilson's description of my characters (in The Philadelphia Inquirer) had the most meaning to me:
These aren't the human orchids populating so much of what gets called literary fiction. These are working stiffs, the store clerks and waitresses who inhabit Heartland America [and] Tucker has drawn them without condescension.
No one else had mentioned this, but I do write about ordinary people, the kind I grew up with and still identify with. I used to get rejections that said no one would care about these people's lives. I'm so glad that hasn't proved true!
• I love teaching almost as much as I love writing and hope to have a chance to do it again. I also desperately want to live closer to water. Anyone know of a teaching gig near the ocean? (From Barnes & Noble.)
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