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

Mousehole Cat

December 23, 2016

Tags: children's books, illustration, women artists

One of my Christmas Eve Eve rituals is to read The Mousehole Cat. To my delight I have just found a YouTube video on The Making of The Mousehole Cat Book with interviews of author Antonia Barber, illustrator Nicola Bayley, (more…)

It's in the bag!

December 9, 2016

Tags: children's books

Emily Arnold McCully, Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor (2006)
Did shoppers have paper bags in 1908? I wondered while working on a scene set in New York City. I found out they did, and I've just discovered that flat-bottomed paper bags of the sort we're all familiar with from grocery stores were invented by a woman, Margaret E. Knight, who patented her process in 1871. (more…)

Elsa Beskow

December 11, 2014

Tags: Christmas, children's books, illustration, Scandinavian artists, women artists

Several interests came together for me when I came across Swedish artist, Elsa Beskow (1874–1953)—Jeanette’s future career as an illustrator; my new heroine Mattie’s work in juvenile book publishing; women’s rights; and Scandinavian women artists. As a Christmas present to (more…)

House of Arden

October 13, 2014

Tags: children's books

My new heroine Mattie works for a literary firm that produces juvenile series fiction. I wanted her to be aware of other, better books for children. E. Nesbit seemed perfect: imaginative, popular but literate, unstuffy. What work of hers might Mattie be familiar with in 1908? The House of Arden was published that year in England. What about America?

The expert on the question is Professor James Arthur Bond of California Lutheran University. I e-mailed him out of the blue, and he was generous enough to answer immediately with the information that Ardenwas serialized in The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, which was published in London but distributed in the U.S. as well as Britain. Perfect! (more…)

Nancy Drew and a Clue to the Blog

July 17, 2014

Tags: Mattie, children's books, work-in-progress

Is there an American woman novelist writing today who did not read at least one Nancy Drew mystery as a girl? For many women over a certain age, the Nancy Drew books were favorite reading, as compulsive as Harry Potter.

In my family, they were taken for granted as pleasurable junk, tolerated because my (more…)