WORD OF MOUTH

Lily Clayton Hansen


A freelance writer and Chicago native, Lily Clayton Hansen calls herself the Storyteller of the South.
She resides on the “hipper side of the river” in downtown Nashville, Tennessee as a resident of the Ryman Artist Lofts. It is a multicolored, magical building in which Lily and her pals practice their artistry, much in the same vein as New York City’s famed Chelsea Hotel.

Raised by bohemian parents, she spent her childhood listening to Django Reinhardt records, reading Kerouac, watching Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and ambitiously writing and illustrating her first novel “The Rainbow Tree” at the age of eight. It won the “Best Novel” prize and gave her the gumption to pursue authoring down the road. As an only child with escapist tendencies, Lily found solace in storytelling. She realized from a young age that it was impossible to sit still and the life of a free-spirited freelancer was her destiny.

While majoring in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lily inadvertently received her first freelance assignment after barging into a staff meeting of her university newspaper. Voicing that the publication lacked an adequate Arts section, Lily began to review commercial and independent gallery openings around town, impressing the Editor-in-Chief with her assertiveness and Art History knowledge. Inspired to take her writing to more serious levels, she accepted an internship at Time Out Chicago, learning the fast and furious ropes of a weekly publication. Alternating between the Kids and Music editorial departments, Lily put her Almost Famous aspirations and Lester Bangs’ impersonation to good use. She began writing candid recaps of raucous live shows and large-scale festivals. Her niche became raw and riotous music journalism. She interviewed a wide spectrum of musicians from family folk legend Ella Jenkins to So-Cal surf punks Best Coast.

At the age of 25, with five years of professional writing experience under her belt, Lily relocated to Nashville. It was unplanned, insane and a rather serendipitous time to be in Music City. Propelled by an extensive resume and varied repertoire, Lily received her first Nashville Lifestyles cover story, interviewing country superstar Carrie Underwood within the first month of her arrival. It ignited a domino effect of steady work and helped her develop a forte for art, interior design and slice-of-life features. She contributes to Nashville Arts Magazine, Home + Hill, Nashville Lifestyles, Luxe Interiors + Design, Native and CS Interiors.

Lily has been praised for her unconventional interviewing style and ability to deliver pithy observations despite word counts or time constraints. Intuitive in her approach, she prefers conversation over interrogation, often shoots from the hip, and has her story constructed long before the interview is over. She actively freelances and released her first non-fiction book of interviews and black & white portrait photography Word of Mouth: Nashville Conversations in July 2015.

Her goals are to type all her manuscripts a la Woody Allen on a classic Smith Corona and bring reading back into fashion beyond 140-character tweets.