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'The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard' Author Opens July Reading Series

"The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard" cover

Fiction writer Erin McGraw will be traveling to Murray State University to open the July Reading Series of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. McGraw's novel, "The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard," grew out of the true story of her grandmother who left her two children behind in Kansas to make a new life on the West Coast without them. She stops by Sounds Good to speak with Kate Lochte about the intricacies of composing a historical novel immersed in family tensions. 

McGraw transports readers into the early 1900's, introducing Nell Plat who has found herself an unhappy wife, mother of two, and a talented seamstress with high ambitions. 

The story arose from the life of McGraw's father's mother who left her two children at her mother's doorstep and took a one-way trip to California, making a new life for herself as a sought-after Hollywood seamstress. McGraw re-interprets the family story into a narrative transcending storytelling, weaving in many aspects of the human experience. 

"This is one reason people continue to love stories," McGraw says. "Because stories are a really effective way of exploring and investigating a lot of things at once." 

Historical fiction, she says, must go above and beyond to present a quality narrative. The novel must immerse the reader in a well-researched world while setting up conflict between characters and relocating the reader to a different emotional, mental and physical setting. 

A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, McGraw has written four novels and collections of her stories and essays. She teaches at Ohio State University alongside her husband, poet Andrew Hudgins who will read for the series on Sunday at 6 p.m.

McGraw will open the July Reading series on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery in the Price Doyle Fine Arts Center. The public is encouraged to attend. 

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