You are currently viewing Lily Clayton Hansen: Author + Biographer

Let’s get real: I talk to myself ALL OF THE TIME in private so why not do it in public? 


Why did you write the book Word of Mouth: Nashville Conversations?

In June 2013— exactly one month after I relocated to Nashville from my native Chicago—I launched an experiment: What would happen if I spent a year of my life talking to successful people of various careers? Not only was I seeking inspiration, but I also wanted to know what success meant to them. The conclusion? Making a living doing what you love.

What did you talk about?

Whether it was a musician, self-made millionaire, or on-the-rise artist they wanted to discuss passion—it is what kept them plugging along all those years after all! Each wanted to pay forward their hard-earned wisdom and express gratitude for Nashville, a city that makes people want to follow their dreams. Everyone’s career exploded the second they moved here.

How did you choose your subjects?

First and foremost, this isn’t a who’s who hot list. I strived to capture the archetype that Nashville tends to attract: talented, hardworking, altruistic individuals who stay the course until their vision comes to life. All of my subjects are self-made successes that built their careers the old fashioned way: via word of mouth.

How did photography play a role in your project? 

The portrait photographers I worked with, Andrea Behrends, Danielle Atkins, Brett Warren and Joshua Black Wilkins, exceeded my vision by making the reader feel as though they were sitting directly across from each subject. Their imagery—raw, unedited, and mostly shot on film and Polaroid formats— matched the intimacy of the conversations.

Why do you think your readers will relate?

Taking the entrepreneurial path can sometimes feel as though the world is against you however, as my subjects all said it is the most satisfying thing they have ever done. They are proof that if you stay focused, the obstacles slowly dissipate one-by-one. I hope to recharge my readers to run after what they really want to do—rather than settle and sell themselves short.

What did you learn from the project?

Overnight success is bullshit!!!  I definitely wasn’t afraid to ask about the ugly parts including the sacrifices, sleepless nights and internal battles my subjects have experienced. Hopefully, the reader sees their own story in between the sentences.



Please join me at the official book launch party on July 16, 6-9PM, at Imogene + Willie.

Photography in order of appearance: Brett Warren + Joshua Black Wilkins 


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