One of the best features of our Author Spotlight series is when our featured authors map a novel that has inspired them. The authors’ choices say a lot about their own writing. Who would have guessed that Hugh Howey was influenced by Battlefield Earth? Or that Mark Haskell Smith was inspired to write after reading The Talented Mr. Ripley?
This month we were pleased as punch that Susan Kietzman, our our R.J. Julia’s Author Spotlight for April, is mapping Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, Olive Kitteridge follows a quirky junior high math teacher who lives in a seemingly-sleepy town on the coast of Maine. However, the town of Crosby is anything but as Olive and the large cast of supporting townspeople come to realize.
The novel is one of Kietzman’s favorites, and she has great admiration for Elizabeth Strout’s writing style. “Her characters are so alive for the reader, they feel like relatives or close friends,” she says. And that makes sense. Kietzman is also known for her rich characters in The Good Life and her new novel, A Changing Marriage.
While Crosby is a fictional town, Kietzman has always had the feeling that the Strout based the small town setting on Belfast, a real town on the coast near Bangor. Many of the fictional places in the novel seem similar to real places around Belfast.
Check out Kietzman’s Olive Kitteridge map, help fill out the additional scenes and let us know how she did.
You’ve no doubt noticed that we’re highlighting two great authors on our homepage. Over the course of November, Hugh Howey and Charles Finch will be mapping the scenes from their novels as well as a novel that has inspired them. The idea is to get the authors themselves to share with their readers why place is important in their writing. Check back throughout the month to hear about why Hugh and Charles chose locations for specific scenes and how other authors’ use of place have inspired them.
But for now, I’d like to introduce Hugh Howey, our IndieReader.com Author Spotlight for the month of November. Hugh is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Wool series. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic U.S. in underground cities that extend more than a hundred stories deep.
A prequel to Wool, Hugh’s novel Shift uncovers the story of what led to the downfall on the surface—and it’s this novel that he will be mapping for us. The scenes in Shift take place up and down the east coast of the U.S. in Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Boston in real locations like Kramer Books near Dupont Circle, a nuclear waste treatment facility near Atlanta and the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Hugh has also left an Easter egg on one of his scene cards that includes a humorous clue into why he picked a particular place for the novel. See if you can find it.
Hugh is also mapping Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard, and we look forward to hearing throughout the month more about how Hubbard’s works have influenced Hugh.
Finally, we’re extremely grateful to our sponsor, IndieReader.com, for helping us create the connection between novels and the places in which they are set. And we hope that you, our users, enjoy this new monthly feature of the site.