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The historical narrative of my recent release The Mapmaker’s Children begins with one of the most influential headlines of American history: “INSURRECTION AT HARPERS FERRY.” It was this October 1859 news of John Brown’s raid that many historians credit as the social spark of the Civil War. Real life is fraught with far more danger, mystery, acts of madness, and feats of bravery than anything we could dream up. As authors, we’re perpetually watching the world’s news (past and present), collecting experiences, and using those startling bits to shape our fiction collages. It’s the ancient practice of our writing craft. So it got me wondering what classic books were ripped from history’s headlines, too. What past authors gleaned inspiration from the news of their day and subsequently produced books that became part of our modern literary lore?
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