Consider Cross-Over Fiction

I once took a class titled “Writing Fiction Based on Works of Art,” taught by Susan Hankla at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School. I cannot share with you the great assignments from that class (those being the intellectual property of Susan Hankla) but I can discuss the concept.
Poets, musicians, painters, novelists, playwrights, sculptors—all sorts of artists—have a long history of drawing inspiration from something created in another medium. As a writer, think paintings, sculpture, architecture, music, and nature.


Several of my publications grew out Susan’s class assignments, what I am calling cross-over fiction. “The Naked Truth” started with a painting of a nude (not this one)


body image: self-portrait in bright colors


“Buddha Remote” started with a video display and “Not Mechanically Inclined,” a sculpture (also not pictured here).
Buddha Victoria & Albert
By Michel wal (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
 Woman Against the Wind sculpture
Three images of Elvis inspired “Love Me Tender.”


Not this photo of Elvis, 1954. Photographer unknown (commercial work-for-hire) derivative work: Dockino (PresleyPromo1954.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Writing cross-over fiction is a challenge and I urge you to accept it. Get thee to the VMFA, to other museums, to galleries and art shows, parks and the great outdoors. At the very least, find books of provocative images to stimulate and inspire your creativity!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *