Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Mansard, but not *My* Mansard

Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad, photo by unbearable lightness, used with attribution, CC license

"The House of Many Doors" is a book I wrote that centers in and around a 'haunted' brick mansard roofed house. I started writing the novel in early 2006 based only on a vague idea of a house whose rooms you could visit in dreams, where you would travel back in time to when the house was built.

That idea morphed and evolved into the present novel that I describe as 'A Wrinkle in Time' meets 'The Shining'. 

I didn't know what a mansard house was when I initially started this book. All I imagined when I thought of a haunted house was the house from the Adamms Family. When I did a little research, I discovered that house was called a mansard, or second empire house and that mansard houses look like the flat roofed beauty in Hopper's painting.

My dear NYC friend, Diane, told me that the NYTimes sunday magazine had a study of some of Hopper's houses, with images of the paintings and the photos of the houses as they stand now.

Hopper's famous Mansard Roof was painted in Gloucester, MA. But it looks a lot less like *my* house than the House by the Railroad seen above. The loneliness factor is just right, though the house from my book is brick.

That house actually exists, as if fully sprung from my own twisted imagination.

I found it 2 years ago when I visited Newark, NJ for the Geraldine R Dodge poetry festival. My writer-friend Sue took me through the Newark Museum and when we walked through the Ballantine House, which the museum is built around, I just about fell over. (If you follow the link, you will see black and white photos from the Nat'l register of historic places. This *is* the house Parker must challenge for his father's life and sanity.)

Someday, I would love to have a book release party there. Though I would be constantly looking over my shoulder for the ghosts.



  1. Wow, what an amazing house. So cool (and kinda spooky) that you found it and I love the idea of having your book signing there. In fact, I just might have to come. ;)

    1. You should have seen my face when I stepped into my own novel. Talk about whole body goosebumps! Even the decorations, furnishings, and wallpaper was just as I'd described them in the book.

  2. It's always wild when you see something in real life that you thought was only in your imagination! what a great looking, atmospheric place.

    Have you ever been to the Winchester Mansion? Talk about spooky (though honestly I've never been). My other favorite spooky mansion is the Carson Mansion in Eureka, CA...I don't know why it creeps me out. Probably because the public isn't allowed in!