Who is Claire Hamner Matturro?
Claire Hamner Matturro was raised on tales of errant, unhinged kith and kin, whiskey making, and the War Between the States. Inspired by such stories, she wanted to write fiction, but became a lawyer instead. An honors graduate of The University of Alabama Law School, she became the first female partner in a prestigious Sarasota, Florida law firm. After a decade of lawyering, Claire taught at Florida State University College of Law and spent one long, cold winter as a visiting legal writing professor at the University of Oregon. She is a member of the Vestry at St. Andrew’s Anglican Catholic Church. She and her husband Bill own an organic blueberry farm, and cheerfully wait on their rescued cats.
Her books are: Skinny-Dipping (2004) (a BookSense pick, Romantic Times’Best First Mystery, and nominated for a Barry Award); Wildcat Wine(2005) (nominated for a Georgia Writer of the Year Award); Bone Valley(2006) and Sweetheart Deal (2007) (winner of Romantic Times’ Toby Bromberg Award for Most Humorous Mystery), all published by William Morrow. Claire is active in writers’ groups, contributes to Southern Literature Review, teaches, attends and speaks at conferences or writers' workshops, and counts her blessings daily. She is currently working on Refugees, a historical novel set in her native Alabama, as well as polishing Wayward Girls--a manuscript she co-wrote with Dr. Penny Koepsel.
Q: I understand you are working on a new manuscript after quite a break from writing and publishing. Please tell us a little something about your new manuscript.
A: Thank you—I will. Our working title is WAYWARD GIRLS and we have only just recently signed with literary agent Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. The “our” in that sentence refers to my coauthor, Dr. Penny Koepsel, a psychologist and a dear friend of mine. This manuscript represents a whole new direction for me, no more zany lawyer capers and, alas, no more Lilly Belle. Time to get serious.
Q: Serious! Seriously? Please tell us what you mean by that.
A: It’s a cautionary tale of sorts, and certainly a dark tale about two teenage girls trapped in a murder trial.
Q: Sounds interesting. Please tell me more.
A: In WAYWARD GIRLS, Jude, a surly pothead with a Jesus Fixation, and her unlikely best friend Camille, a hyper-vigilant overachiever, are being tried as adults despite their youth. The State of Florida is prosecuting them for murder. As Jude quips, “setting a man on fire takes you right out of juvie court.” The thing is, the two girls might be delusional killers…or not. Before the trial, they were just unhappy girls falsely labeled as mentally ill and more or less thrown away in a remote boarding school. As they tell their story in a series of flashbacks, an unlikely ally holds the key to their acquittal or conviction.
Q: What inspired you to write such a story?
A. We were inspired to write it while comparing notes and stories at an all-class reunion of the dysfunctional boarding school we both attended as teens. One of us said, “We ought to write a book.” So we did. However, our manuscript quickly evolved from our “Trouble with Angels” kind of personal hi-jinks stories into something very dark and inspired by a true story arising out of multiple tragedies at a wilderness school for delinquents in Texas. Regardless of inspiration, WAYWARD GIRLS is totally fiction.
Perhaps the best way to explain why we wrote this manuscript, is to cut and paste Penny's dedication from the manuscript:
Dedicated to wayward girls everywhere, who suffered in silence, whose voices were unheard; and whose lives were forever changed. To those girls who were sent to “special boarding schools” because their willfulness, tenacity, and individuality were mislabeled as psychological flaws, instead of strengths, or as being a natural part of puberty, attainment of autonomy, or a strong sense of self—those traits we see and commend today in successful women. This is also dedicated to those kids whose parents were lulled into a false security by unethical people who promised to turn their wayward girls into proper young ladies. Unfortunately, they never shared with those parents exactly how they would do that, or at what cost - emotional, physical and otherwise.
WAYWARD GIRLS is a book of fiction. However, it was inspired in part by actual and documented reports of a private, profit-making coed boarding school for "troubled teens" in East Texas – and other affiliated schools. The State of Texas closed the school down after reports of abuse, neglect, and the death of a female student – and soon after other school closings followed.
Warning: parts of WAYWARD GIRLS may be disturbing, but so were some of the documented abuses of these students.
Order books at:
Coming in September:
TROUBLE in TALLAHASSEE, a Familiar Legacy book,
published by KaliOka Press.
Learn more at:
Cover photograph by Becky Lindsey Shaw, used with permission.
Read more about Wayward Girls on the Bio Page.
Wayward Girls--First Place winner in Seven Hills Literary Contest, Young Adult, Dec. 2015
Wayward Girls--A First Place winner in its category in the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards, and Runner Up for their unpublished book of the year.
Coming soon--Refugees won First Place in Seven Hills Adult Fiction Literary Contest and Third Place in the Royal Palms Literary Contest
Can love and faith triumph over the devastation of war and reconstruction in the brutal landscape of 1865 Alabama?