An Evening With Author Lisa Mattson

Cheers to mullets, rattails and never settling in your life!”
Lisa M Mattson

Lisa Mattson inscription in my copy of her book The Exes in My iPod: A Playlist of the Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country

Kristine Hansen and Lisa Mattson discuss Ms. Mattson's novel "The Exes in My iPod to an enthusiastic audience at the Milwaukee Public Market June 5th.
Kristine Hansen and Lisa Mattson discuss Ms. Mattson’s novel “The Exes in My iPod: A Playlist of the Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country” to an enthusiastic audience at the Milwaukee Public Market June 5th. Photo courtesy of Christina Plum

This past Thursday I was fortunate enough to attend an author event at the Milwaukee Public Market. Thief Wine hosted wine expert and marketer Lisa Mattson who just released her first novel The Exes in My iPod: A Playlist of the Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country.

The evening started off with the sizable crowd of mostly women, sampling some delicious wine. I must say the J Cuvee sparkling wine I drank was fabulous and I highly recommend it.

Once settled, the audience was treated to a Q & A session with notable Milwaukee food, wine and travel writer, Kristine Hansen, getting the scoop on The Exes in My iPod and what inspired Lisa to write her book.

Lisa told us her husband bought her an iPod, and as she downloaded songs into her new gift she realized many of the songs reminded her of her past loves. These songs inspired her to make an exes playlist. The playlist sent her back in time when she didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to men, romance and sex, but somehow she lived to tell the tale. Thus, Lisa decided to write a book about her exes and how they ultimately led her to the exact place she was meant to be—happily married with a thriving career in the wine industry.

At first Lisa thought she would write a memoir, but then decided a novel would be a better choice. The Exes in My iPod was a writing exercise that took her seven years. Lisa really had a lot of past romantic baggage to deal with, not to mention a busy professional and personal life. Lisa’s novel features a character, Harley Arbele, who went from naïve small town girl rushing from one bad relationship to another to a sophisticated, accomplished and happily married career woman, not unlike the journey Lisa herself took when she was younger.

When asked what her ex-boyfriends think of the book Lisa answered some of them were mortified. Her ex-husband expressed his displeasure at the novel, and one ex dramatically proclaimed, “This book will destroy my family!” But some of Lisa’s exes had no problem and a few mentioned they wanted an autographed copy. She mentioned she didn’t write the book to hurt anybody and after reading the book I can safely say, Lisa is as hard on her doppelgänger, Harley, as she is on her exes, maybe even more so.

In the book, Harley has a difficult time figuring out the difference between sex and love, something a lot of people struggle with. Harley also had to learn self-respect and the ability to trust herself, which is something a lot of us can relate to. From hearing Lisa speak, it almost as if writing The Exes in My iPod was a form of therapy, a form of therapy that also reflected her love of music and her passion for wine.

Lisa also mentioned the process of her writing novel allowed her to embellish and make some stuff up. Her husband supported her 100% (he pretty much deserves some type of husband of the year award for this), and her employer also gave her a year-long sabbatical to work on the book. However, Lisa’s mom had a hard time with parts of the book.

Lisa chose to self-publish The Exes in My iPod. Why? Well, her job is very demanding and too many times unknown writers get ignored by traditional publishers. Standard inquiries and emails often go unanswered. Furthermore, by self-publishing her book, Lisa had some control in the promotion and marketing. Lisa is a big fan of e-books, and the e-book version of The Exes in My iPod feature links to the songs mentioned in the book. During the Q & A session Lisa took time to tell the audience on the book’s selected musical playlist and how they connected to certain ex-loves going into great length on how Dido’s song “Hunter” connected to her ex-husband. “I didn’t choose the songs; the songs chose me,” Lisa claimed.

And yes, Lisa did read a passage from The Exes in My iPod. And she chose to read a passage with a lot of steamy sex. She figured with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, the audience wouldn’t mind—we didn’t.

The temperature of the Milwaukee Public Market rose a few degrees as Lisa read about a tussle in the sack between Harley and her Latin Lover John. At first, Harley and John’s venture into the horizontal sweaty was a lusty affair. But sadly, it soon turned to disappointment. And if you read The Exes in My iPod you will never regard Gummy Bears in the same way. Written with a good dose of humor, this passage showed how the erotic can turn us quite neurotic.

Beyond her novel, Lisa also described how she became a topnotch wine maven, which began when she took a wine class in college. Today Lisa is the Director of Marketing Communications for Jordan Vineyard and Winery.

The evening was a load of fun and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Both Lisa and Kristine handled themselves with aplomb, both down to earth and charming. After the Q & A session ended, attendees were able to sample more wine and buy a copy of The Exes in My iPod. Lisa autographed copies and spoke at length to everyone who approached her table. I was able to talk to Lisa and we further bonded over our shared small-town girlhoods and our love of the band Everything but the Girl.

Ultimately, an evening of wine, one woman and a whole lot of songs was a true delight and the perfect way to cap off a warm spring evening. And now it’s got me thinking of how certain songs connect me with an ex. Hey, Mike! Jann Arden’s “Insensitive” is totally about you!