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Ideas from Real Life?

One of the questions I am often asked is, “Do you get your characters and stories from real life?”

The answer is partly. An early book, No More Magic, had its inception at my oldest son’s fifth grade birthday party. It was a super hero costume party, and we held it in a park. One boy came dressed as the Green Lantern, complete with a jade ring borrowed (without permission) from his mother. He lost it in the park grass. The rest of the party became a search party. Ring never found.

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz popped into my head because I came upon an atlas of imaginary places.

I lived in the house in which Something Upstairs takes place. It appears again in Gold Rush Girl. And I resided in Providence, RI, for a good number of years.

Nothing but the Truth came to life when I read a newspaper account of a school crisis based on false rumors.

Blue Heron is set at a Massachusetts lakeside where I used to vacation.

Don’t You Know There’s a War on? recalls memories of my school days during World War II.

Who was that masked man, anyway? remembers the days (as a kid) when I used to listen to the radio endlessly.

The Good Dog has for its main character our own dog, McKinley, and the town we once lived in, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Seer of Shadows draws on years of doing photography in my own dark room.

School of the Dead is set in a private school I visited in San Francisco.

The Button War is based on a story my late Father-in-law told me about his world War I experiences when a boy.

Mind, none of these stories are about real events. They were merely nudged along by experiences—lived, heard, related—along the way.

2 thoughts on “Ideas from Real Life?”

  1. You are one of my favorite historical fiction writers. I love reading your books out loud to my classes. We are right in the middle of The Button War now. Excited to see what you write next!

  2. I am going to read everyone of the books you have written that I have not read as my 2021 gift to myself. And re-read those I have loved in the past ie Charlotte Doyle and Sophia’s War.

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