Katherine Keenum

A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

A small sample of the images that inspired me appears below. Click on these or any images in the posts to see enlargements. In the text, click on colored words to activate links.

Selected Works

An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.


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Picturing a World

Publish with CreateSpace?

February 28, 2018

Blog post alert: Well-meaning acquaintances sometimes ask (once) why I don’t consider self-publishing. My answer, delivered ruefully or with a scowl depending on how well I know the person, is “editing, promotion, distribution.” For those curious about the possibilities and limitations of one platform, James Gurney has posted a long, informative interview with Marc Taro Holmes, an artist-author who feels he has the experience and skills to make one kind of publication work on CreateSpace. Along the way, he makes observations relevant to other forms of self-publication. Check it out.

Lost murals found

February 26, 2018

Tags: illustration

Blog tip: Cecil Osbourne’s Lost Murals Rediscovered at Spitalfields Life tells the story of how murals depicting life in London neighborhoods wound up being rescued. Images of the full murals (which can be enlarged) are posted. To me, it (more…)

Walk on the Wyld side

February 23, 2018

On my living room wall, I have a framed poster of the 1879 John Singer Sargent painting that inspired me to send Jeanette and Edward to the Luxembourg Garden. Earlier this week , a friend who worked in the movie business for years came over. When I explained what the poster meant to me, she said, “I knew that designers for historical movies went to museums to study how things looked, but I’d never thought about fiction writers doing the same thing.”

Then this morning I came across this painting of Saint Mark’s Square by William Wyld at Charley Parker’s Lines and Colors. Parker writes: (more…)

Women in the East End, Londo

February 21, 2018

Tags: fashion or clothes, photograph

Blog tip: Check out two photographic blog posts at Spitalsfield Life. Together they offer countless visual details and suggest scores of stories. Women of the Old East End publishes carte-de-visites of women from the 1860’s to 1940. I’ve chosen this girl with her (more…)


February 17, 2018

Writer’s tip: This month, my library book club is reading George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. (And, yes, it deserved to win the Man Booker Award!) To prepare for our meeting, I went poking on the internet and found a profoundly interesting interview with Saunders, which among many other insights, offers a gem to writers: (more…)

Heart-shaped books

February 14, 2018

This image from the heart-shaped songbook, Chansonnier cordiforme de Montchenu in the Bibliothèque nationale, in Paris delighted me when I came across it. Story, story, story! There must be a story to go with the illustration, but just as much fun to make one up. Perhaps a love story with Cupid, (more…)

Top hats at the garden party

February 9, 2018

Tags: garden party, fashion or clothes

I spent happy hours visualizing Cornelia Renick’s garden party, with very clear ideas of what Jeanette, Effie, and Emily were wearing. But although I dressed the men in black, I forgot their top hats (except Robbie’s)! Now, thanks to this image, when I reread my own chapter, I’ll have to (more…)

London working-class suffragists

February 7, 2018

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

Blog alert:The Spitalsfield Life post for February 7, 2017, Celebrating East End Suffragettes focuses on working class women in London during the fight for the vote. Great maps! (more…)

Gilbert’s Market Day

February 3, 2018

Tags: street views, dogs flower seller

Besides the great central food market, Les Halles, there were, of course, lots of neighborhood street markets throughout Paris in the 19th C. While poking around after finding yesterday’s painting by Béraud of Les Halles, I came across this picture by Victor-Gabriel Gilbert, (more…)

Béraud at Les Halles

February 2, 2018

Tags: Béraud, Paris landmark, Parisiénne

While cleaning up my writing room this week, I found a slip of paper in a box of old research for Where the Light Falls. It noted that a painting of Les Halles by Jean Béraud was shown at the 1879 Salon (at which Jeanette exhibits) and was now at the Haggin (more…)