“The Sweater of My Soul,” a debut novel written by Lisa A. Greenlee, is brimming with emotional intimacy and courage while breaking the boundaries of sexuality and the racial divide. Two fearless young women break from convention to live their truths in the face of adversity and against social norms and oppressive realities of the time. The novel takes place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in a small rural community a stone's throw from Savannah.
Tell me a little about your background. Are you from Savannah?
I was born and raised in Circleville, Ohio which is a small town outside of Columbus, but I have relatives in the South and spent a lot of time visiting the South on summer breaks. The story actually takes place in Richmond HIll and outside Savannah. I have always been drawn to southern culture and I absolutely love Savannah. As much as I love the city, I am a bit of a country mouse and I love the slow and easy pace of the South.
Did you study writing or Journalism? How did you become interested in writing?
I’m a nurse case manager and work in geriatrics, however I always took creative writing, comparative religion and culture diversity classes in college. I’ve always loved writing and I write a lot of poems. I’m working on the second installment of the book and hope to have it published in late Fall of this year, and I would like to do a collection of my poetry. One of the characters in “The Sweater of my Soul” is a writer and I’ve lent some of my poetry to her so it’s scattered throughout the book.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been a contributing author to a text book, but nothing in this genre, it’s my first. When the health climate changed and the pandemic happened, I had been tossing around the idea of writing a novel for a few years so when COVID happened and a lot of my work went telephonically, I started writing it in early 2020 and finished it in January of 2021. It’s 213 pages and was published Oct 31. 2021. I self-published and I built my own publishing company. With that I have enlisted copy editors, cover designers and graphic artists geared toward first-time authors and new authors, helping them with their books and creating their novels.
How did the idea for this novel come about?
It kind of touches on breaking boundaries of sexuality and racial divide in the mid-century. As much as I identify with southern culture and appreciate everything about southern culture, I love learning about history, the good and the bad. You can’t learn all about the good things without knowing and understanding all the bad things that have taken place. I wanted to paint a picture about the other side of life. As much as the sad and heartbreaking events in history took place and existed, there were plenty of good things and good stories and relationships between people that were good and honest. I wanted to tell a little of that side of history and talk about their relationship, the two women, not only was the relationship between a white and black person taboo at the time, it was taboo because it was same sex.
What is something the readers can look forward to?
It’s a love story. I very purposefully focus on it being a love story that anyone can read. I specifically chose a beta reader who was a very Christian, conservative woman and I wanted her to read it and her feedback was very important. I didn’t want this to be a gay and lesbian novel, I wanted it to appeal to everyone. I wanted it to be a beautiful love story. When she came back to me and we discussed it, she said she loved it and appreciated how it was written.
There is going to be a second novel. Tell me a little more about that and when do you expect it to be available?
The second novel will be a flash forward 20 years into their life and goes back and reminisces on what happened in that 20 years. I am working on it now and it should go to editing in early Spring with publication in late Fall.
Anything else the readers should know?
In reflection, my hope is that any reader, once they’ve turned the last page, leaves the book feeling hopeful and good about life and love. After all, happiness is paramount in life, and love, well, it’s the greatest gift we have for one another. One of the poems in the book has a line “Love knows no boundary of time, nor breadth of space between when it is you I have searched and found again and again.
For updates and to learn more about the author, visit lisagreenlee.com