Welcome to the blog tour for Dana Schwartz’s And We’re Off! Today we’re sharing a guest post from Dana on ten pieces of art that inspired her novel:
- L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet: I still remember seeing this painting when I went to Paris when I was in middle school. It’s a little NSFW, but it’s a painting that will stick with you. It definitely sticks with my protagonist Nora, when she sees it.
- Welcome to the Black Parade: the album I listened to while I was writing to get all of my angst up to the surface.
- The Ghent Altarpiece: I didn’t get a chance to see this amazing polyptych alterpiece by Jan van Eyck when I was in Belgium (there was a military wedding going on in the church) and so I made sure Nora and Alice had the opportunity, albeit a more dramatic one.
- Bloomability by Sharon Creech: I read this book when I was younger and it totally changed me. I tried to capture the same sense of wanderlust and falling in love with a place.
- Harry Potter: A series that totally influences Nora and her art. And the books that made me—and an entire generation—fall in love with reading.
- Lord of the Rings: So I never loved the Lord of the Rings books, but I have really liked getting into the movies as an adult. Callum, the love interest of the story, is a much bigger fan than I am, though.
- Nighthawks by Edward Hopper: when I tried to imagine what sort of artist Nora’s grandfather was, my brain went to Edward Hopper and his most famous painting that I’ve seen again and again at the Art Institute of Chicago. He—and Nora’s grandfather—both paint lonely people and cityscapes.
- “All Too Well”: My favorite Taylor Swift song and the one I sang again and again when my brain was clogged with writer’s block.
- Once: a movie that takes place in Ireland and one I watched again and again when I was trying to write Callum’s dialogue in an accent.
- Nimona: my favorite web-comic turned graphic novel and exactly the sort of art that I imagine Nora wanting to draw.
About And We’re Off:
Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush. She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who’s always nurtured Nora’s talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expense-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history’s most famous artists. The only catch: Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather. It’s a no-brainer: Nora is in!
Nora’s mother, however, is less than thrilled about the trip. Alice put herself through law school to give Nora the kind of financially stable life she never had growing up, and she worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter. Her opinions haven’t gone unnoticed, either. Nora couldn’t feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they’ve ever been. So, seconds after saying goodbye to Nora at the airport terminal, Alice calls out: “Wait! Stop! I’m coming with you!”
About Dana Schwartz:
Dana Schwartz is a writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Mental Floss, the Guardian, the New York Observer, MTV News, and VICE. When she’s not on Twitter as one of her parody accounts (@GuyInYourMFA and @DystopianYA), she’s on Twitter as herself (@DanaSchwartzzz), sharing far too much personal information to ever pull off the Thomas-Pynchon-reclusive-author thing. She currently lives in New York City.
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