Dream Readers

The Academy Awards are this week, and that inspired the Debs to do a little dreaming. Our theme this week: what celebrities do you dream about reading your novel?

Now, I don’t need a lot of encouragement to daydream. I do plenty of this on my own, especially about my novel, THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING. I fantasize about my author-heroes taking my novel with them on vacation. I dream about my favorite book bloggers reading it and placing it at the top of their most anticipated lists. I dream of the paparazzi snapping photos of all of my favorite actors walking down the street holding my novel, and the montage of all the pictures in a glossy magazine (Stars–they read THE CITY BAKER–Just like us!) And casting the movie adaptation of the book (the fictional movie—I haven’t sold the rights) has become a favorite discussion topic whenever I get together with my oldest sister.

But today I want to talk about the artists who have inspired me over the years. These are some of the people whose work has been influential to me, and who are apart of the fabric of my novel in some way. I often daydream of giving them a copy of THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE as a way to say thank you, to show them that the art that they made inspired me to make my own.

I first heard  Gillian Welchtumblr_m7kf5zUgd61r38px0o1_1280 and David Rawlings play when I was a brand-new old-time banjo student. I fell in love with their harmonies, with the way they never sound like they are in a hurry, and with the characters in their songs. They honor the old-time music tradition that I deeply love while making music that is fresh and new. Not a week goes by that I don’t listen to at least one of their records. And my main character Olivia took on David’s last name.

With Jay Farrar tumblr_nwu469twlR1rkf7sao1_1280it was love at first hum. The music of Jay’s early band Uncle Tupelo defined the term Americana back in the early 90’s. They played punk rock versions of old-time classics. I love co-singer Jeff Tweedy too, but it was Jay Farrar’s low, gravely voice that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end (and still do.) From Uncle Tupelo to soundtracks to Son Volt to solo projects, Farrar has been a constant thread of inspiration my entire adult life. When it came time to talk about the sound of my character Martin’s voice, it’s Jay’s that I am describing.

There is something so special about the music of Victoria Williams3. I love her voice, her banjo, guitar and mountain dulcimer playing, her wonderful song-writing. There is a willingness to write about what is sweet and tender in the world that feels radical to me—a kind of subversive kindness. She sings about nature, about faith, about her love of her grandparents—all with such genuine feeling. Her work always feels honest to me, and it inspired me to write from the same place. When I first started writing THE CITY BAKER one of my goals was to write something that felt as true as a song by Victoria. I hope I came close.

tumblr_nposhdabwe1u1bmsno1_500Amy Sherman-Palladino. Two words. Gilmore Girls. I loved this show. I am beside myself with excitement over the Gilmore Girls reunion. Everything I know about writing dialogue I learned from watching Gilmore Girls. Yes, I love Lorelai and Rory, but what really drew me in was the town of Stars Hollow. I want to live in Stars Hollow. I feel like I know every member of the community, what it feels like to do yoga at Miss Patty’s dance studio, the difference between the breakfast crowd and the lunch crowd at Luke’s diner. Stars Hollow is a real place in my mind. I knew at the earliest stages of writing that I wanted to create a whole town to live in, and to give readers a similar experience. Creating the town of Guthrie, VT has been one of the most delightful parts of writing THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE, and I hope to get to spend more time there soon.

imagesWes Anderson is one of my all-time favorite directors. His The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my top-three movies (Casablanca and Harold and Maude are my other two.) I love how Anderson isn’t afraid to make flawed characters and then adore them—something I aspire to in my own writing. He works with such a wonderful combination of honesty, intelligence, beauty, and humor, and he is the master of world building down the smallest detail. With every film I feel his mission to delight his audiences on every level. And at the same time I feel his own joy in the making of the films. A true inspiration.

I’m so inspired my artists of every stripe, it’s hard to stop making this list! I’d love to hear what artists inspire you–share in the comments below!

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Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at louisemillerauthor.tumblr.com.

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This article has 7 Comments

  1. My biggest inspiration, my biggest teacher in storytelling (by far), was Robert Altman.

    For one thing, among many, he directed McCabe & Mrs. MIller, which has been my favorite movie for over forty years now.

    Just last week, I mentioned Gosford Park in a blog comment, so of course I had to watch it again, and, quite unexpectedly, I burst into tears at a key scene. I’ve seen the movie many, many times, and stil there I was, sobbing uncontrollably.

    (By the way, I’ve always found Tenebaums to be annoying, but I’m quite obsessed with Moonrise Kingdom — maybe partly because I was that age, in that year, in a place a lot like that, and that is sort of what it was like in a lot of ways.)

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