Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Rochester, Wisconsin. She is the author of five novels. Her first novel, The Book of Ruth, won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award for best first novel and was a selection of the Oprah Book Club. Her second novel, A Map of the World, was also a selection of the Oprah Book Club and became an international bestseller. Her other works include, The Short History of a Prince (1998), Disobedience (2000), When Madeline Was Young (2006), and Laura Rider's Masterpiece (2009).
Jane Hamilton's website
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An Interview with Jane Hamilton.
Are the two devastating
incidents at the heart of A Map of the World based on real events?
Both are based on real events. The drowning was the first kernel of the book: I knew a little boy about my son's age who drowned in his family's swimming pool. The death haunted me and I knew it would eventually come through in my writing. I had the first third of the book written for a long time, and I knew Alice was going to get in trouble because of the drowning, but I couldn't see how she was going to make peace with herself. I wrote the equivalent of three novels trying to come up with various solutions--all failures--but I was determined not to leave her forever in her dilemma. In 1990 I came across an article about Kelly Michaels (she was convicted of abusing scores of children at a day care center) and quite soon after that I saw a documentary about a similar situation involving a couple in North Carolina. Both the writer and the filmmaker believed their subjects were innocent and had gotten swept up in a witch hunt. The accused were in a predicament that was so horrifying I resisted writing about it, but I felt keenly that it was something that could happen to any of ...
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