February 10, 2017

Lone Star Book Blog Tours : The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin


Lisa Sandlin 

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Date of Publication: October 27, 2015
# of pages: 306

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1959. Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. Wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. Now, after fourteen years in prison, she’s out. It’s 1973, and nobody’s rushing to hire a parolee. Persistence and smarts land her a secretarial job with Tom Phelan, an ex-roughneck turned neophyte private eye. Together these two pry into the dark corners of Beaumont, a blue-collar, Cajun-influenced town dominated by Big Oil. A mysterious client plots mayhem against a small petrochemical company-why? Searching for a teenage boy, Phelan uncovers the weird lair of a serial killer. And Delpha — on a weekend outing — looks into the eyes of her rapist, the one who got away. The novel's conclusion is classic noir, full of surprise, excitement, and karmic justice. Sandlin's elegant prose, twisting through the dark thickets of human passion, allows Delpha to open her heart again to friendship, compassion, and sexuality.


"Lisa Sandlin’s The Do-Right is something akin to a rusted nail through the foot: it’s dirty, it hurts, and it’ll have you jumping up and down—or possibly just on the floor. Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan are as lovable a duo as any in noir fiction." -- Joseph Borden, Killer Nashville

“When a critic praises a writer’s original voice, what does that really mean? In the case
of Texas native Lisa Sandlin, it means dog-earing page after page in her novel The
Do-Right, to reread particularly terrific passages or, even better, share them aloud . . .
Check out The Do-Right, and see if you don’t find yourself reading passages aloud
just for the sheer pleasure of it.” – Shawna Seed, The Dallas Morning News
"Smashingly original." -- Jack Batten, Toronto Star




LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: You’re a longtime writer and an author, Lisa, but The Do-Right is your first novel. What inspired you to make this your first full-length work of fiction?

I really, really enjoyed letting my imagination loose on Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan. (A paddle ball as a weapon! An alligator fight!) Bobby and Johnny Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press were editors of Lone Star Noir, the Texas volume of Akashic Books’ Noir Series. They invited me to write a dark story with a Texas setting. I picked my hometown, unsurprisingly, and wrote “Phelan’s First Case.” At a reading one night in San Antonio, John Byrd said, “This story has legs.” I listened to John.

Your book is set in Beaumont, where you grew up, in the seventies. How would you describe your hometown and that decade?

We were kind of minding our own business until 1970, when Janis Joplin came back for her high school reunion. Then the tie-dyed world showed up at our door. Felt like change accelerated then but maybe that was just being young and myopic. Beaumont had a small town/industrial feel: traditional Cajun music on TV, soul music on our record players, mass employment at the refineries. I recall a Fire and Police benefit concert in Houston in the very early ’70s. Tammy Wynette and George Jones were headlining, but you guessed it, they didn’t show. Willie Nelson took the stage—and not the Willie of his early album covers. He had long hair. The audience experienced a moment of consternation, but then they went for it. Willie!

Your work has garnered prestigious prizes and fellowships, including a Dobie Paisano fellowship. What roles do you feel awards play in a writer’s career?

The NEA supported us for a good while in the mid-1990s, for which I was extremely grateful. Awards help you get jobs. In themselves, they put out a warm little spark, and then you go back to the computer and take up the writing dilemmas where you left them.

How would you describe your “first big break” as a writer?

Undramatic. Cinco Puntos had anthologized a story of mine, and they asked if I had a book. I did. Send it to us, they said. I did. Eventually they sent word they’d publish it. I went into my writers’ group that night and set a bottle of champagne on the table. However. When I got the letter that said they’d publish my second book, about the integration years in East Texas, I tore it open in the kitchen at Paisano, J. Frank Dobie’s ranch. I felt like I’d been washed from the inside out by a mint-hallelujah ocean.

How has publishing changed since you started?

Typewriter to computer; paper to cyber. It’s broken wide open, as your readers know. New York isn’t the only goal, though it’s desirable and probably more competitive than ever. There are wonderful, expert, innovative indie presses. You can self-publish in all sorts of online ways, aided by the blitzkrieg of social media. Jump genres. Incorporate graphics. You still have to do the work and get the material out to readers. And figure out how to get paid.

What advice would you give aspiring writers? Especially writers who may never have the option of attending a creative writing/MFA program?

Respect your characters. Don’t be proud about sacrificing parts for the good of the whole. Trust your subconscious because it’s working for you.

Lisa Sandlin’s story “Phelan’s First Case” was anthologized in Lone Star Noir (Akashic) and was later re-anthologized in Akashic’s Best of the Noir compendium, USA Noir. The Do-Right, which uses the characters from that story, is her first full-length mystery. Lisa was born in Beaumont, Texas, currently lives and teaches in Omaha, Nebraska, and summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  June 6 - June 15, 2016

Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

6/6       All for the Love of the Word -- Review
6/7       Texan Girl Reads -- Author Interview #1
6/8       Forgotten Winds -- Excerpt #1
6/9       My Book Fix Blog -- Review
6/11     Missus Gonzo -- Excerpt #2
6/12     Texas Book Lover -- Author Interview #2
6/13     Margie's Must Reads -- Review
6/14     The Crazy Booksellers -- Promo
6/15     Book Chase -- Review

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