Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finding inspiration

by Meredith Cole

What artist would I want to collaborate with on my covers and web design? I feel a little like this question was written for me. My books are set in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn arts scene. I lived there for ten years, and I'm married to an artist—so I had lots to say about it, good and bad. Lydia McKenzie, my amateur sleuth, is an artist and photographer who is struggling with her identity and goals. Her art career isn't going well. She's misunderstood. She has a hard time keeping up with her art when no one wants to show her art.

If you're a struggling writer, some of Lydia's struggles may sound eerily familiar to you. That's no accident. I filled a drawer with scripts for years. I had to ask  why am I doing this? Does anyone care? But I kept writing. And as I did so, I got better at it. And eventually other people did want to read it, and even pay money to read it.

Back to the point of the blog, though. I made Lydia a photographer, which I'm not, because I thought a photographer would be an interesting and unique sleuth. Photographers see the world in interesting ways. They notice details that others ignore. And my inspiration for the first book, POSED FOR MURDER, was a photographer named Cindy Sherman.

Unlike my sleuth, Cindy Sherman does not photograph historic murder scenes, but she is inspired by the past and occasionally by death. She did photographs called "Untitled Film Stills" starting in the 1970's, always using herself as the model. The photographs were very much about female identity, power, and the "gaze." She was inspired by movies and their portrayals of women. She is almost completely unrecognizable from photograph to photograph. I decided Lydia would not only use herself but her friends to tell the story of the murders. She would attempt to find the truth in the deaths, but use her knowledge of clothing, her friend Georgia's knowledge of make-up and setting the scene to portray the deaths of women who were voiceless and had died nameless on the streets of Brooklyn.

My covers have been wonderful, but if Cindy Sherman was available to collaborate on future covers I would be ecstatic. It's just the sort of artistic collaboration that Lydia would love, and it would be so perfect for the series...

Starting next week, I'll be moving from Saturday to Friday (and sharing with the fabulous Gabi). Hope you'll swing by and visit us every Friday.


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of your protag practicing an art that you had to learn about, Meredith! I did the same, only my protag is a double bass musician in a jazz quartet. I've met some fascinating people in my community, jazz musicians who are more than happy to share their experiences, and I've also had a great time learning about an incredible American art-form.
Thanks for the post!

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks for stopping by Rebbie! Isn't it cool to write about an artist? Love delving into their mind and learning about their world, too.

Gabi said...

There's the photographer I was looking for. If we're sharing Fridays, can we share cover artists.

Joshua Corin said...

Wow..creepy-awesome choice, Meredith!