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 Welch 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 it 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 Williams. 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.
Amy 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.
Wes 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!