Virtual Book Tour for Lisa Pell’s Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?
Inspired by the author’s experience, Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? is the story of Lori McGuire Pomay, a happily married career woman living in suburban Washington, D.C. Lori undergoes genetic testing for in vitro fertilization and her world is rocked when she is told the dad she always knew could not possibly have been her biological father. This mid-life shocker sends her into an alternately hilarious, heartwarming, and heartbreaking search for truth about her heritage – from Appalachian Cherokees to Purple Kings on a church stage, with high-rolling gamblers, car dealers, dentists, and all manner of confused amnesiacs in their seventies along for the ride.
With Lori’s mother having died in the 1990s, taking many of the answers to her questions with her, the situation was rife with miscalculations. Initially, the protagonist Lori McGuire Pomay’s only clues to a prospective unknown biological father’s identity are memories of her late mother discussing pre-marital dating in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and faded old letters from several paternal contenders, written around the time of her conception in the apparently swinging spring of 1958. The hunt eventually involves possibly ten paternal prospects; their families and friends; the membership of two churches; the high-rolling gambler ex-husband of a famous Hollywood actress; two families of car dealers; several free-spirited road trips around Virginia, and numerous humorous telephone calls and e-mails.
It all boils down to timing and opportunity. Lori learns more than she ever wanted to know about the vagaries of female fertility, the fallibility of half-siblingship DNA testing, problems with blood type testing/mutations, the impact of several genetic mutations – and her late mother’s courtships. Readers learn more than they might have known about Appalachian heritage, northern European ethnicity, inbreeding, sex and Rock n’ Roll in the 1950s, the bonds of motherhood, and the nature of paternity. Throw in the onset of a puzzling hereditary vertigo condition set off by hormone injections, plus a trip to the hospital for chest pains, and “Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?” will leave your head spinning.
It’s a magical mystery tour and “Who Done It” classic maybe only a mother could create, and as Paul McCartney might say, the answer to which maybe only your mother should know. Then again, there’s the possibility medical testing mistakes might be fueling this comedy of errors, but, whatever the answer, Lori’s world is forever changed by the journey.
1. How did you do research on the Appalachian area, specifically the rituals of the families?
Answer. My family has been in the Appalachian mountain region since the late 1600s. For the most part, I lived there until I was six, and spent most holidays and summer vacations there as a child. I still often visit my family in the mountains. The family rituals have been handed down through my various clans for generations. I would not miss the annual Decoration of graves paying tribute to my ancestors for most anything. So, it wasn’t really a matter of research, it was a matter of memory regarding the family rituals. But I should note I did some internet research on Melungeons and happened upon an article by one of my college professors, Virginia DeMarce, entitled, Verry Slitly Mixt, which suggests many long-time American families are more of a racial mix than they likely have contemplated. Genealogical records have come a long way with more computerization, and now, with cross referencing of more and more electronic family records, it appears many of the mysterious Melungeons (French for mixture of races) have some African roots. We had suspected some Melungeon ancestry on my mother’s side since she was found to have Mediterranean blood platelets back in the 1970s. And that’s not even contemplating my potential paternal contenders. Back in colonial days, especially in the wilderness of Appalachia, there apparently was quite a bit of mixing between escaped slaves (many of whom may have come from the Portuguese shipwrecks initially mentioned in the Melungeon legends), Native Americans, and white northern Europeans. People may not have told the full truth about their heritage back then, fearing what, at the time, could have been a dangerous classification as non-white. During my fertility testing, I learned I have a rare genetic mutation present in only one percent of the population, which is more prevalent among African Americans. My hematologist performed that research and told me about the ethnicity of my rare genetic mutation.
2. How did you find out about the LSD testing on soldiers?
Decades ago, my late mother and I saw a television news story alleging LSD testing on soldiers at back in the late 1950s. On many occasions, we discussed the potential for her brother to have been a victim of that unfortunate experiment.
3: What authors do you read?
I’ve tried to read most of the classics over the years. Most recently, I’ve been reading Pat Conroy, Ann Patchett, Elizabeth Strout, Tatiana DeRosnay, William Kuhn, Robert Ludlum, Richard Bausch, Sharyn McCrumb, Donna Andrews, John Gilstrap, and Cathy Astolfo.
4: What genre would you never want to write?
5: What do you do to relax: read, hike, shop, eat??
Mostly it’s spending time with my husband. When we have time, we can be real couch potatoes in the evenings during the work week -- watching TV, renting movies, reading/writing. On the weekends we love to play golf/tennis, go dancing, and attend live theatrical performances. The weekends when I’m not working are when I do most of my writing, oil painting, and my husband does his writing and woodworking.
6: Are the other books part of a series, and what are the plans for future books?
Yes and no. I started writing some stories as a concept for a novel a few years ago, which I soon realized needed to be a trilogy. It’s about a woman convicted of a murder she didn’t commit, an amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll performer, and a character with ties to a few Presidents. My Distortions series is a parody of Earth far in the future on “Planet Malaprop,” very similar to “Hearth.” I’ve also thought about a fourth book for the Distortions series. In addition, I’ve been speaking with several individuals about co-writing some of their stories.
7: How do you do research-travel or use internet for info?
Mostly I use the internet. That’s how I tracked down people who knew or might have known my mother or her boyfriends during my real-life story search. I also used the internet for medical research on issues like in vitro fertilization, various genetic mutations (including the vascular homocysteine issues and the flipped number nine chromosome more prevalent among African Americans), DNA testing and Melungeons, blood type testing issues and mutations, even the times of Charles II and Lord Russell, memorialized in the well-worn pages of The History of England lining a 300-year-old trunk my ancestors brought to America. I used the internet to search for old newspaper clippings to learn more about what happened to various paternal contenders in my real-life search. But I also traveled to meet people, and discussions with doctors and my acupuncturist provided important clues in my own search. The key to my awakening and motivation for writing Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? was a discussion with a fertility specialist. He confirmed my blood type as “B” and I told him my parents’ blood types were “O” and “A.” I’ll never forget his comment in his lovely French accent, “I senk you better senk about zee milkman.” I’ve used the line in my music video, “The Ballad of Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?” And there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation where you can read the body language – or the sight, smells, sounds, and touch of places that figure in the story. There’s nothing quite like meeting a 70-some-year-old man and effectively asking him about a date 50 years ago that may or may not have happened. There were some amusing evasions, flat-out lies, and genuine memory issues. One guy a bit down on his luck swore he was in class with my mother at schools she never attended. He enjoyed the Eggs Benedict at an elegant old hotel and thanked me for treating him to fine dining he hadn’t experienced in a long, long time.
8. What was the most difficult scene to write?
There is no question trying to explain DNA testing issues in language most people can understand was the most difficult writing I had to do. The blood type mutation stories also involved significant research and mental processing. But generally, in a state of free-flowing, almost furiously fast recording of events in a journal of my real-life search, initially writing particular scenes was not all that difficult. I almost could not type fast enough. Later, cutting passages and re-writing chapters was tough. I had some priceless tales in an entire chapter about “The Apostles of Paternal Truth” I ended up cutting and melding into other chapters to make a marketable word count. The same with my chapters, “A Mixed Up Shakespearean Metaphor,” and “For the Benefit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” about my search for paternal contenders telling unusual stories and with common last names. I had some more tales to tell from my mother’s girlfriends and a few other characters who talked about the “hootin’ and hollerin’” and “swingin’ times. In the end, some of those funny anecdotes were not essential and might have detracted from my character’s story, so I decided to move on quickly. With the state of the publishing industry today, and the overload of information so many readers face, I decided to at least attempt to keep my novel simple and short.
9. What was the most fun scene to write?
It’s a toss-up between the introductory grand entrance of the Purple King paternal contender in “Images of Myth and Myrrh,” describing the love letters in Chapter 10, and dancing around the Facebook twist in the last chapter. I had so much fun with Myth and Myrrh and the ironies of the mortal playing the Purple King, and the nature of old letters bearing secrets in coded 1950s language, I ended up painting three versions of the Purple King and producing videos about both chapters, along with my chapter on “Threads of History.” But I still have to smile at the Facebook twist in the end, which I won’t spoil for readers by discussing here. Speaking of dancing, with the help of professional musicians, I also had fun writing and recording two bluesy, rockin’ music videos, “The Ballad of Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?,” and “Nothin’ Butt a Mutt,” featuring toddlers, then puppies and kittens interpreting Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? The Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? project has been a soul-searching, multi-media experience of tremendous professional and emotional growth for me. I’ve written additional songs and have been encouraged to compose a musical to complement this quirky paternity mystery with a Facebook twist. Oh, and, if you’re ever on Facebook, I think you can see my husband, “JonRe Pell,” and I are still having fun on this wild ride.
Follow the tour…
July 19Review and Interview at Fairy Cakes
July 20Review and Interview with J Barrett
July 23Interview at Working Writers and Bloggers
July 24Review at The Readiacs
July 25Review and Interview at Manhattan Reader
July 26Guest Post at The Unconventional Librarian
July 30Review and Interview at Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepeneur’s: National Association of Women on the Rise
Also on the Tour
Review at Readers Favorite
Brief Description:This novel raises questions of integrity,science and social media value through a high-spirited and often humorous telling of a story that spans decades. It’s a magical mystery tour and “Who Done It” classic maybe only a mother could create, and as Paul McCartney might say, the answer to which maybe only your mother should know. Then again, there’s the possibility medical testing mistakes might be fueling this comedy of errors, but, whatever the answer, Lori’s world is forever changed by the journey.
My review:Who's Your Daddy, Baby by Lisa Pell
Lori Pomay is 45 and has tried to have a child to no avail and the doctors are now trying in vitro and have to do all the blood work and other expensive tests. That's when she finds out her father is not really her father as the blood types are wrong.
Her mother is dead and she only has letters to try to figure out who her real father is. She uses facebook and other social online sites to try to track her potential father down.
She is able to trace back to the 1620's and the relatives that had come to the US and from where. I found this information interesting as I do some knitting for a 1620 settlement in my area.
There are quite a few that could potentially be her father so she further investigates their origins.
Love the descriptions of how she was raised in the Appalachian Mountains and without the modern accommodations others in town had. Raising and canning their own food, cleaning and cooking while her mother was a teacher at $60 a month.
Although the 1950's it feels like the 1930's still.
Love the new things I've learned: LSD testing on soldiers, who would've thought.
To think Lori and her sister had stored all her mother's things away in a box.
The trouble she went through to chronically put all the names into a spreadsheet to maybe be able to then pick out which one was her mother, just astounds me that she went to all that trouble.
I didn't care for all the narrative part of this book, 99.9%, would've liked to have had more conversation along the way.
There was so much to learn about DNA testings and why things came out as they did. I rate this book a 4 out of 5, interesting subject.