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

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.