When I sat down to write Idyllwilde, I had sweeping dresses, ivy covered mansions, and the gilded age in mind. At first, I was a slave to historical accuracy as I pulled up maps of Milwaukee in the early 1900’s, checked and rechecked ages and dates and added up generations to get Charlotte and Sarah where I wanted them to be, and researched music and poetry and who would hear or read what and when.
In the end, I played pretty fast and loose with history.
I found that in order to create the feeling I wanted around my book, to be free to use the music and poetry and architecture and people that had spoken to me, I was going to have to bend the rules. Or bend time, in this case.
There is a very important scene that takes place in Idyllwilde in Milwaukee around 1910, and is set in the Pabst mansion. In reality, Captain Pabst died on New Year’s Day 1904, and the home was sold by his descendants in 1908. However, I had been so taken with the grand home, with the person of Captain Pabst, and with the Pabst Theater and mansion and brewery, that I simply couldn’t bring myself to omit them.
What we have in Idyllwilde is a memory of turn of the century Milwaukee, and not an historical account. It is my hope that the resulting story, while perhaps inaccurate, feels somehow more true than history.