Books by Tom and Laura McNeal
I don't know why we always do this but we do. We go looking for the true story behind the novel we just read & enjoyed precisely because it felt true. What we like is believing in a whole and contained world with solid walls and living people. And yet we ask: where'd you get the idea? And the author can't just say, "Well, it all happened."
As a reader of literary biographies and interviews with writers and the acknowledgment pages at the backs of novels, I confess that I'm always picking apart the story to find the true parts and the made-up parts and the Terrible Childhood Events that inspired fiction. Even that isn't enough. I go on pilgrimage to the very places where the transformation from life to fiction occurred--to Key West or Chawton or Rome--so I can stare at the holy typewriter or handwritten manuscript page.
When you're writing historical fiction, the sacred moments are the ones when you come across a photograph, artifact, or place that feels inhabited--haunted, really--and you hope somehow to hold out a wick to that still-burning candle and use it to light your book. That's what these pictures show: the candle flames.