Where Writers’ Ideas Come from: Why an Architect?

woman writing

The architect who is the protagonist of my novel-in-progress, Archer Landis, has lived in my head so long, I had to scour my brain to remember why he designs buildings rather than runs railroads, manages a department store empire, or fixes teeth.

My parents were Frank Lloyd Wright devotees, read his books (I still have them), and in the 1950s, when they wanted to build a house, they wrote to the great man. The size of their budget undoubtedly stopped that conversation before it got started, but he wrote them a nice letter. So my dad designed our house himself along Wrightean principles. Small by today’s standards. Small then.

In college I lurked around the studios in the architecture school, using an empty drawing board for my own graphics work, fascinated by the students’ model buildings and the smell of sharpened pencils, rubber cement, clay. A scene in the novel has Landis ruminating on that kind of by-hand work versus today’s 3-D printing.

At a more symbolic level, Landis is confronted with people who are his opposites. He wants to build; they want to destroy. Their destructiveness affects him directly, both personally and professionally, and threatens his family, his business, his life.

As this book developed, the things he notices, his relationships, nearly everything he does goes back to the touchstone of his calling. Straightedges and French curves and stone samples. He could no more be a railroad exec, a retailer, or a dentist than he could be an emissary from Alpha Centauri.

Photo of woman writing: Nick Kenrick, creative commons license

5 thoughts on “Where Writers’ Ideas Come from: Why an Architect?

  1. I think most people have imagined building their own house – I know I have. How cool that your parents wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright, got a response, and then went on to build their own house! It certainly explains your interest in Architecture and why you would have a character like Landis. Love the back story!

  2. Enjoying receiving your blogs again. Have you ever visited the Rosenbaum house in Florence, Alabama. It was designed for the Rosenbaum family (it may go by a different name) by Frank Lloyd Wright — very interesting, very minimalistic,

    • We haven’t seen that one. We’re hoping to get to northern Alabama (Colbert County, right?) at some point to do some family history and down to Birmingham. IF we can ever travel again! The FLW headquarters and tour of a neighborhood heavily influenced by him are a block from my daughter’s house. All very interesting! Thanks for the tip.

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