Though I don’t write historical fiction or true crime, I did take a small bit of inspiration for the plot of Dance of Souls from a story I read in The New Yorker in 2005 about a lawsuit in Cupertino, CA, brought by a 5th grade teacher. You can read a synopsis of the story, “Jesus in the Classroom,” at The New Yorker’s web site.
If you read it, and then read Dance of Souls, I think you’ll see why the title of this post is “Inspiration.” The facts of the Cupertino case bear little resemblance to Mr. Candine’s wrongful-termination case. But as with much writerly inspiration, it got me thinking. For me, writing is a process not unlike cooking. You take a lot of raw ingredients that might not even seem to go very well together, mix them in the right proportions, add some heat, and end up with something radically transformed and–one hopes–delicious.