Micol Ostow, the author of family, describes the creative and editorial process that goes in to putting together a work of (anti-?)historical fiction. Although the following illustrated passage was left out of the final edition, it’s a revealing look into the author’s process!
When I first began writing family, I wasn’t sure how much the historical context of the Manson murders would come to play into the final draft of my novel. So in the first draft that my agent saw, I had included a passage called “news,” which included various headlines from that point in time. History buffs will note that this vignette is problematic in that the stories don’t run perfectly consecutively, which made any nod toward historical ‘accuracy’ even more problematic. Ultimately my agent and I decided that the book had enough of a retro vibe to it to suggest the sixties to a savvier reader, while someone unfamiliar with the Manson family wouldn’t need the references, regardless, so the passage was cut. Though Melinda’s family exists outside of the fully-modernized world – they have no cell phones, for example – her experience could certainly be happening today. My hope is that any reader can imagine this story unfolding in almost any time or place – that the story is, essentially, timeless.
Thanks to my brother, architect and illustrator David Ostow, for the graphics. Check out more of his work over at his blog, Your Words, Not Mine.