Kirkus Review

Take a look at what Kirkus has to say about Murderers and Nerdy Girls Work Late! (And yes, Wisconsin is a good place to live.)

Kirkus Review

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Marshfield News Herald Article

Local author puts Marshfield on the map
Written by Breanna Speth For News-Herald Media
Oct. 7, 2013 |
marshfieldnewsherald.com

 
It isn’t often that a successful novel makes mention of local businesses such as the Daily Grind and Marshfield Clinic, but award-winning author Lisa Boero is putting Marshfield on the map.

Her first novel, “Murderers and Nerdy Girls Work Late,” recently was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

“Nerdy Girls” features protagonist Elizabeth Howe, a Marshfield native and law student working at a prestigious law firm in St. Louis. Though Boero was born in Pennsylvania, she shares many other personal attributes with her fictional main character. Both have lived in St. Louis, both have attended law school at Washington University and both have an unusual neurological condition called prosopagnosia, commonly known at “face blindness.”

A rare condition affecting about two percent of the population, face blindness defines a person’s inability to recognize faces, including his or her own. Boero’s condition emerged after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor at age twelve, but it is her inability to recognize faces that has helped hone her detective skills. Because Boero cannot recognize a person by face, she uses other clues such as a person’s gestures, clothing, or even smell to determine identity.

Lending her condition to Liz Howe makes for an interesting character, especially after Liz discovers a murdered body in the stairwell of her workplace and must use her prosopagnosia-honed detective skills to help solve the crime.

“She is based on me, and the way that I describe how I tell people apart is accurate,” Boero said. “Face blindness produces a really good eye for detail and you have to pay attention to things that other people don’t have to.”

As the fictional Liz Howe faces the social insecurities arising from her condition, so does her creator, Boero.

“One of the things that interests me about this character is she has the same insecurities that I have,” Boero said. “Some of this book, for me, is being open about these issues and dealing with the insecurity of having to do all of this mental work to keep people straight.”

Originally setting out to write a memoir, Boero shifted to fiction.

“I wanted to write a book that I wanted to read,” she explained. “I spend a lot of time reading really heavy stuff because I am a lawyer, so I wanted to write something fun.”

Working on a pad of paper, writing whenever she had a few minutes to spare between her full time job as an attorney at Security Health Plan and her young family’s activities, the book took about a year to write, and even longer to publish.

“The publishing industry is really weird. They are going through a lot of change right now and they aren’t willing to take chances on things,” said Boero. “I wasn’t in New York, I wasn’t writing about NY, I think there is a kind of cultural bias against the Midwest and books that have that kind of feel to it. I didn’t have that kind of platform that they were looking for.”

Eventually, Boero decided to self-publish. After entering her novel into Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest, she placed in the top 100 and received rave reviews from across the country.

Though the book offers entertainment to audiences nationwide, local readers can glean extra enjoyment from the novel’s mentions of nearby locations. Said Boero, “I think (Marshfield residents) will enjoy it because the character is from Marshfield and because her view of Marshfield is a really positive view. This is her hometown.”

So far, Boero has finished five books in the series and hopes to have the next book in the Liz Series, “Bombers and Nerdy Girls Do Brunch,” released next winter. She is also at work on a different trilogy about a lawyer who sells his soul to the devil.

“Nerdy Girls and Murderers Work Late” is available online at Amazon.com, Book World and St. Joseph’s Hospital Gift Shop.

My Life Without a Face – or how I decided to turn my deficits into assets

I look in the mirror every morning and see a stranger. The stranger is me. I have prosopagnosia, or face blindness, which means that I can’t look at someone’s face and know who they are. I’m not sure when I realized that I was different, but the condition was likely caused by a brain tumor, diagnosed when I was twelve. If you want to ensure that you have a miserable adolescence, have brain surgery and radiation treatment so that you go to school tired, bloated and bald. Add in a healthy heap of bullying and you have a perfect recipe for teenage pain. Needless to say, the trauma associated with all that diverted my attention from the problem I had recognizing people. I thought I was ditzy or stupid or both. It was only later when the scars healed, my hair grew back and I moved to a place where no one knew me, that the difference between what I could do and what I should be able to do became obvious.

So now I had a problem, but I didn’t have a diagnosis. And I didn’t want one, either. While I thank heaven every day for the physicians who successfully treated me, going to the neurologist was not one of my favorite activities. I kept my secret and tried to fake my way through social situations. I learned to focus on individual features rather than the whole face. I memorized noses, foreheads, lips, and eyes. I took careful note of how someone walked or stood. I honed in on details of people’s clothes, hairstyles, shoes, backpacks, and purses. I paid attention to voices. In short, I became a detective of details.

My detective skills work well. So well, in fact, that I haven’t had to share my secret with many people, including doctors. But one special doctor, my husband, gave me a name for what I had, explained why I had it, was impressed with my compensatory abilities, and treated it as no big deal. His support and understanding helped me to come to terms with my insecurities. I realized that I should be proud of what I have been able to do despite the prosopagnosia. I am an everyday detective, and a damn good one at that.

So I decided to write a book about a face blind detective, Liz Howe, who uses her compensatory mechanisms to solve crimes. In Murderers and Nerdy Girls Work Late, Liz becomes an outstanding detective because of her condition, not in spite of it. By the end of the book, she successfully turns her deficits into assets.

I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to skip the years of angst. Buck up, I’d tell her. Being different can be a good thing. I also wish she could have gone to the library and found my book, but who had heard of face blindness back then? For that matter, how many have heard of it now? But it’s not the face blindness that is the problem, I realize. I so feared being considered a freak that I hid my condition and pretended I was like everyone else. It was only when I accepted my deficit, however, that I was able to turn it into an asset. That is the lesson I would like to pass on.

Summary Sheet

Take a look at the Nerdy Girls summary sheet – useful for all that marketing that authors dread having to do. Any thoughts on creative ways to get the word out about the book are very much appreciated. Special thanks to Cher Monfils for her great design! Summary Sheet