Memphis writer dives into Jackson case

April 7, 2011

As soon as Memphis writer Lisa C. Hickman heard about the Noura Jackson case, she knew that the story would captivate a large audience. She is in the process of writing a book about the crime.

Hoping to have the creative nonfiction book completed by the end of the summer, Hickman’s narrative will detail Jackson’s childhood, the two-week dramatic trial and facts gathered from interviews. Hickman sees money playing a key role in the story and indicated that the book will not be centered exclusively on the murder.

“I never thought Noura killing her mother was the story,” Hickman said. “There is much more about Noura, the person.”

Jackson, 23, was convicted of stabbing her mother, Jennifer, over 50 times in their East Memphis home on June of 2005. Hickman has followed the case closely over the past few years.

Hickman lives only a few miles from where the crime occurred and found the case very interesting from the moment she heard about it. Shortly before the murder took place she had just finished reading Christina Wieland’s book, TheUndead Mother, a psychological study on matricide.

Hickman found the book fascinating and thought that it highlighted some interesting points as to why children kill their parents. She said Wieland’s book suggests that parents have to make the separation from being a friend to their child, which is usually a problem single parents face. 

“There’s an incredible level of dependency and yet resentment of the dependency and that resentment just builds and builds until a case of matricide occurs,” she said. “Some of the people I spoke with talked about Noura having that same level of dependency.”

The study also concluded that most matricide cases stem from abuse. However, there is no record of Jackson ever being abused by her mother. Several of the Jackson’s family friends Hickman interviewed said that Jackson and her mother had a very loving and close relationship, but had their arguments like most mothers and daughters do.

“Some of them still believe that Noura was never capable of committing this crime,” Hickman said.

Hickman attended all of the court proceedings and observed Jackson’s appearance and personality change throughout the entirety of the case.

“Observing her I saw her physically change,” she said. “Her hair got darker and she gained weight. She became more and more despondent as time went on. When she is animated she has a really cute smile, but so much of the time she was just depressed.”

An important part of her book will be an interview with one of the jurors.

“ I think to date I’ve had the only interview with a juror,” Hickman said.  “It was an extensive and excellent interview. This was an insight I really wanted to include in my book in order to display how (the jurors) were seeing and absorbing information during the trial.”

Hickman lives in Memphis, but is originally from South Dakota. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi with a concentration in American Literature, Southern Literature and William Faulkner. 

Her upcoming book is different from her previous types of publications. In 2006, she published a nonfiction literary book, William Faulkner and Joan Williams: The Romance of Two Writers.

She has also written articles for the Memphis Flyer, The Southern Quarterly, The Housman Society Journal, Teaching Faulkner, Memphis Magazine and the Sunday Des Moines Register.

Since, the Jackson case has sparked a large amount of attention nationally, as well as locally, Hickman hopes that interest will entice people to buy her book once it is released. Even though Jackson was convicted of her mother’s murder in 2009, she maintains that the story will be objective. 

Ashley Wislock, 23, Collierville, University of Memphis student, interviewed Hickman for a school project and is looking forward to reading the book once it is completed. 

“This case is fascinating, so it's great to see that someone's choosing to write about it,” Wislock said. “Lisa definitely has some great insights into the case and she was a witness to the entire court process, so her book should be great. I can't wait to read it."

Hickman is a mother herself, which has increased her interest with the case. She is determined to use her parental knowledge in order better understand Noura and Jennifer’s relationship. 

 “It’s so dark and tragic,” Hickman said. “(Noura’s) life should have held so much promise and her mother’s life was so on track. It’s terribly sad.”

Story by Lauren Lee

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