Friday, April 27, 2018

Inspiration Image: Behind The Scenes of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill"

Part of the research I did for the novel was visiting The Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, California. In one of their display cases, there was a poster-sized image of some Civil War-Era soldiers, mugging for the camera.

As I studied their faces, one of them seemed... I don't know, like he had some secret between him and whoever was taking the photo. Some intimacy that couldn't be revealed in front of the others, but was captured in this photograph.

I couldn't get it out of my mind... what if that soldier was Gay? And what if this photo was in my main character's B and B? And what if this 150-year old image of a maybe-Gay soldier was the only person Wyatt felt he could be real with?

That became Wyatt's soldier...

There was no information in the display case about the photo, but I asked the curator, and they said they thought it was from one of a handful of books in their collection. I spent the afternoon flipping through photo books of the Civil War until I found the source photo... And the big reveal about who the men in the photo are! (No spoilers, you'll have to read the novel to find out.)

I've arranged with the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia, to have permission to share the photo both in the published book and here online. From their Cook Collection, here's the photo of Wyatt's soldier (second row from the bottom, right side):

Cook Collection, The Valentine

It's an image that helped me better understand my main character and inspired so much about the novel—I'm really happy to share it with you.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

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