Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why write about Wright?

We received a gift catalog from Taliesin yesterday which had, in amongst all the expensive furniture, pillows, vases and scarves, an offering for the book Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. This novel (which I haven't read) is told from the viewpoint of Mamah Cheney, the woman with whom Frank Lloyd Wright had a torrid affair in the early 1900s and for whom he left his wife and six children. Quite a story.

Anyway, with the continuing public fascination with Wright, is there any need to include him in yet another book? Don't we know everything about this man there is to know? Well, yes, and several capable biographers (Meryle Secrist's book is fantastic) have pulled apart his life in minute detail; but isn't it interesting to speculate about his actions in situations that haven't been documented? Why did Mrs. Dana (a real person who figures prominantly in my novel) let him have such a "free hand" in designing her opulent house (Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois)? We'll never know for sure, but one explanation is in my book.

That's the exciting part of writing a novel based on real events and including real people. You can take what you know about them, put them into a situation and see what happens. It's fun to write and, hopefully, fun to read as well.