What follows is a list of websites, books, places, and other things I find inspiring, beautiful, or useful. To keep this page fresh, I’ll be rotating and updating items on an occasional basis. Enjoy!
The Kissed Mouth. The title of this blog refers to Bocca Baciata, an oil painting by Rossetti. About the “stunners” who populated PreRaphaelite art—Fanny Cornforth, Alexa Wilding, and others—by Kirsty Walker, author of Stunner: the Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth. Frequently hilarious but always thought-provoking, The Kissed Mouth casts an incisive and often political eye upon the PRB and their circle. Walker’s post on how fat is a PreRaphaelite issue is worthy of a standing ovation.
Domythic Bliss. A blog devoted to creating aesthetically enchanted living environments. The fevered brainchild of Grace Nuth, a library employee with a fixation on all things PreRaphaelite, William Morris, and Arts & Crafts. Whenever I visit Domythic Bliss, I feel my blood pressure lower considerably and my inspiration level skyrocket.
The Virtual Victorian. Where Essie Fox, author of the gothic Victorian novels THE SOMNAMBULIST and ELIJAH’S MERMAID, shares a variety of nineteenth century facts, fancies, and fabrications. Richly illustrated with rare period photographs and illustrations.
Encyclopedia Mythica. For all of your mythology and folklore queries.
SurLaLune Fairy Tales. If you love fairy tales as I do.
Wonders and Marvels. Edited by author and medical historian Holly Tucker (BLOOD WORK), Wonders and Marvels is a treasure trove for those who love history and its quirky stories.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Probably my favorite book, I consider Jane Eyre the feminist ur-text. I first encountered it when I was eleven. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread it since then.
Possession by A. S. Byatt. A romantic romp through academia set simultaneously in modern and Victorian England. If you love the PreRaphaelites as I do, it’s great fun to spot all the references. I recently reread it as inspiration for the Next Novel.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I love all of Waters’ novels, but this one is my favorite. A literary potboiler. Don’t start reading it before sleep.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. A dark and deliciously gothic novel by an author who’s also a book artist.
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. My favorite book on the craft of story. Though it’s pitched toward screenwriters, there’s lots for novelists to use.
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. I’ve taken two novel-writing workshops with Maass, both which were tremendously helpful. Maass’s fiction writing techniques really do work. I find his concept of microtension to create narrative urgency especially valuable.
Medical Muses by Asti Hustvedt. A fascinating and disturbing history of Charcot and female hysteria in nineteenth century Paris. It was especially helpful as I researched THE LILY MAID.
Illuminations by Mary Sharratt. Sharratt’s latest historical novel is a wonder of psychological intensity and lyrical language. “Think about what you love, Hildegard. Trust it. That’s where your talents lie and where you’ll find happiness, even here.” This advice is given to Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) shortly after the eight-year-old girl is tithed by her family to the Catholic Church; Hildegard is deemed unsuitable for marriage because of her otherworldly, prophetic visions.
Leighton House Museum. A stunningly beautiful home that is a paean to the Aesthetic art movement. Peacocks, silk rooms, and more. Located in the heart of Kensington, London. Right, photograph of Leighton House’s Arab Room.
Kelmscott Manor. William Morris’s arts and crafts-decorated summer home in the Cotswolds.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. My favorite place in Boston to view art. Plus it’s built to resemble an Italian palazzo.
Highgate Cemetery. Part nature preserve, part burial grounds. Many luminaries are buried here including Elizabeth Siddal, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife and muse. I set a pivotal scene in THE LILY MAID at Highgate.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Peace, quiet, and a Japanese garden in the heart of New York City.
Ditmas Park Corner. All about the Brooklyn neighborhood where I live.
writing and publishing
Sandra Gulland. The author of the JOSEPHINE B. trilogy and MISTRESS OF THE SUN. Her blog on the writing life is always thoughtful and inspiring.
The Purple Crayon. If you want to create and publish children’s books, this is a must-visit site.
Musings of a Writer. A book and history blog from Kimberly Eve specializing in reviews of Victorian and Tudor-set historical fiction. She includes articles on Tennyson, the Brontes, and others.
Terri Windling. Inspiration and beauty from one of the founders of the interstitial mythic arts movement. Windling lives in the village of Chagford where I spent a year illustrating my first book—her photographs make me homesick in a bittersweet way.
Sackett Street Writers Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, the SSWW believe that learning how to read with “a writer’s perspective” is an essential part of a writer’s development. Their workshop structure is based on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Small class sizes, excellent instructors, and one-on-one conferences. I workshopped the first part of THE LILY MAID at SSWW with co-director Heather Aimee O’Neill.