BOOKS

Write My Name on the Sky was inspired by life

Write My Name on the Sky was inspired in part by my own experiences.

I was married to an artist in the 60s and 70s, and that was a particularly vibrant time for the art scene in Los Angeles. The brand-new L.A. County Museum of Art opened on Wilshire Boulevard in 1965 (having previously been housed as part of the Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park) and a lot of focus was shifting from New York to L.A., with galleries on La Cienega holding Monday-night “Art Walks” to display their collections.

I found the art scene fascinating, if a little pretentious, and as a non-artist, much like Kate in the novel, I often found myself on the outside, looking in. It took decades before I was able to distance myself enough to portray that world in fictional form—and it is heavily fictionalized in this novel, as are Kate’s adventures in the business world.

The novel spans a huge amount of time, from 1968 to 2000, and because my memory of the 60s and 70s is a bit hazy, I relied heavily on the internet, and the Los Angeles Times archives, for many facts. What did people wear in those days? What movies were playing? What model car would Kate drive? Did policemen have name tags on their uniforms? Who was the President? What did people talk about? I tracked the answers down carefully, because I didn’t want my readers to think, “Oh no, that’s just wrong,” and slam the book shut.

The Women’s Movement of the 60s and 70s plays a role in the story too. Cracks were forming in the Glass Ceiling as Kate began her career, and the novel is ultimately a story of one woman’s quest for independence and self-esteem, at a time when new possibilities were opening up for women in the business world.

The book’s title is a metaphor for ambition and its dark side. Many of the characters in the novel are wildly ambitious—and ambition often drives success, but at a cost, which comes out as the story progresses.

All names have been changed to protect both innocent and guilty, of course, and most of the story comes purely from my imagination, but I think it’s grounded enough in reality to make it believable—and, I hope, entertaining to read.