Inspired by True Stories
with Helen Humphreys and Nicole Smith
How does a writer create fiction from history?
1947: a lonely boy in a small farming town befriends the local tramp. He then witnesses a murder. In her latest book, Rabbit Foot Bill: A Novel, Helen Humphreys tells the stories of Leonard Flint and Rabbit Foot Bill, examining the frailty and resilience of the human mind. How did she unearth the inner lives of these characters? What motivated her research and writing process? And what advice does she have for writers who are similarly inspired by true stories?
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HELEN HUMPHREYS is an acclaimed and award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Her work includes novels Machine Without Horses, The Evening Chorus, Coventry and Afterimage. Her nonfiction includes The Ghost Orchard, The Frozen Thames, as well as the memoir Nocturne. She has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Toronto Book Award, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Trillium Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Award and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. The recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence, Helen Humphreys lives in Kingston, Ontario
NICOLE LEONA SMITH is a writer and theatre creator based in Cambridge, Ontario. Her work as a playwright has been supported by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), the Shaw Festival, and Canadian Stage. Girls From Away is Nicole’s most recent play-in-progress – a co-creation with Newfoundland’s Berni Stapleton, in development through Newfoundland’s Arts and Culture Centres and set to premiere in 2021. Nicole’s essays and short fiction can most recently be found in The New Quarterly (Issue 155) and Ember Chasm Review (Issue 02). She is currently working on her first novel, with support from TNQ & the OAC.