The Art of Imagination

moebrookerThis month’s topic over on YAOutsideTheLines – the influence of art and media on our writing – is especially topical to me. My next book begins at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. When I started writing the book (three years ago!) I made a field trip to the museum to take it in, take notes on the sounds, smells, how it felt to be in the cavernous museum and all its rooms. I visited collections, some I loved (contemporary art) some not so much (relics).

And there is a painting that plays a role in my next book as well. It’s not actually in the MoFA, but I faked that part 🙂 It’s actually in a gallery in NYC. It’s Moe Brooker’s The Way Back to Before. That’s it above. I kept an image of the painting on my desktop as I wrote. I like abstract art, and this is certainly abstract. So i got to make up my own meaning for the painting and what it meant to the characters. Which is a lot like reading a book. Everyone brings their own perspective when reading a story, when relating or not to characters and situations. and while there is more structure to a novel than perhaps a piece of abstract art, a story still leaves a lot of work up to the reader. To imagine what the characters look like, their voice, their mannerisms, the town they live in.

So this piece of art, and my museum experience, had a great deal of impact on my current novel. It was a merging of what was on the museum walls and what was in my head. And imaginary place and time with imaginary characters that I hope are as colorful and interesting as Moe Brooker’s work.


  1. Daria Rose Mariotti says:

    I love Local Girls, and Rich Boys. Both books are amazingly written. I hope you decide to write another.

    • Jenny O'Connell says:

      Thank you!! I have a special place in my heart for those two books because they take place on the Vineyard. I do have a third Island Summer I’ve started to write, but with three others in the works I have to find time to get past the first chapter. Thanks for writing!!

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