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Picturing a World

Banlieues

By the time her train reaches Paris, Jeanette is feeling scared, and this moody photograph helped me think about what was outside the window as the day darkened. Baron Haussmann’s remaking of Paris not only changed the physical look of the city, but also distorted  Read More 
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More Scandinavian interiors

Carl Vilhelm Holsoe The Dining Room

Blog tip: Another artist of domestic interiors—Carl Vilhelm Holsoe.

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Dieppe

The main thing I wanted to readers to feel with Jeanette and Effie when they landed in Dieppe was how foreign France looked and felt to them and how exciting. It also mattered to me to get the geography right. The tall houses facing the quay helped on both scores.  Read More 
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Images and characters

Images help me speculate about my characters. Two posts this morning on It’s About Time contain paintings of rooms from 1908—the first on interiors by Peter Ilsted, the second on interiors by Henri Matisse. One question for me is which style would Jeanette be using in 1908? Another is  Read More 

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Kitchen

When I first started researching ANONYMITY, writer Polly Shulman suggested I look for Topless Towers, a 1921 novel by Margaret Ashmun. It is set in a Morningside Heights apartment building and gave me lots of leads for details of apartment life. It opens: Read More 
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Brush your hair

Blog tip: Ever heard about brushing hair a hundred strokes a night? Read The Pragmatic Costumer on how and why for great vintage photos and modern recommendations.
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Morning paper

In the first chapter of ANONYMITY, my unmarried heroine sits alone, reading the morning paper. Images like this one of William MacGregor Paxton’s woman reader,  Read More 
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Mark Kelso

CD by Mark Kelso
Having finished the first draft of a short story about a composer and sound engineer, I approached the brilliantly gifted musician Mark Kelso for help with technical details. I am comfortable with my setting, action, and the character’s psychology; but I’m no musician and certainly not a sound engineer. Mark graciously invited me to spend an hour today at his Muddy Angel Music Studio, where he composes, teaches, and records himself and other artists.  Read More 
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Light and rooms

A recent e-mail exchange with a friend about the rise of the word living-room in America in the 19th C set me thinking about how important it is in historical fiction to get ordinary terms right. Front parlor, back parlor, sitting room, boudoir, withdrawing room, drawing room, living-room, salon, lounge—they  Read More 
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Breakfast tables

Here in New England, mornings are getting too cool to eat breakfast on the porch; but before summer fades entirely, I was pleased to run across this painting at the always interesting Lines and Colors blog. It is an example of blogger Charley Parker’s feature, “Eye Candy for Today,” which demonstrates the value of looking at an art work bit by bit instead of always as an integrated whole. My interest in garden history has led me to peek into backgrounds of portraits and biblical paintings to catch glimpses of gardens in the past. For writers, realistic details spring out, e.g., the single blossom in a wine glass on the table in this picture. Read More 

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