Hemingway’s Key West

Three years ago, I went on a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida. I’d always loved Hemingway’s work so I naturally had to tour his home. It was at some point between standing in the shadow of a chandelier in the master bedroom and staring at the typewriter on Hemingway’s work table in his writing cottage that I was overcome with inspiration. I knew that I would set my next book at the house in the thirties when Hemingway lived there.

Eager to put inspiration to application, I promptly began the Hemingway novel when I returned home. I had already started a sequel to my first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING, and was jumping back and forth between the two manuscripts, unsure which deserved more of my time.

In the meantime, I had my third son. Writing went on hold for a few months, though my mind often wandered into the landscape of both of the books I’d started before the baby arrived.

It was during a late night feeding, in the haze of sleep deprived half-consciousness, that I had a dream. In it, I was sitting in Hemingway’s home in Key West in 1935. Hemingway, himself, walked into the room and sat with me on the couch. He said, “You have to write my book because I’ve become irrelevant.”

When I woke up I was certain which book I’d write.

Three years later, with my novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL set for publication by NAL/Penguin, I returned to Key West to do a final research trip, make connections for the book launch, and spend time with my husband for our anniversary. It was very emotional for me to stand in the house that inspired this incredible journey I’ve been on and I could feel Hemingway wherever I went in town.

I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to occupy that space on several occasions, and I think the book is better for it. Below, I’ve posted some pictures from the trip. If you’d like to see the entire album, it’s on my Facebook Author Page: Erika Robuck, Author.

Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. Enjoy!

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20 thoughts on “Hemingway’s Key West

  1. That dream! A visit from the man himself (maybe). 😉
    That kind of thing will get ya writing!

    What a beautiful house from the outside. Love those arched windows and shutters.

  2. Thanks for sharing this experience, Erika. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. It’s from Salman Rushdie and he said, “Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational & conscious one.” These photos are beautiful (LOVE that typewriter). I can see how you drew inspiration from being immersed in that. And what a perfect way to tie it all up with a bow, by returning three years later with a book deal in hand. I’m so happy for your success. Looking forward to reading your forthcoming novel!

  3. Nina Badzin says:

    Oh! This game me chills, Erika. So inspiring!

  4. Erika! This is so very inspiring! Oh, Hemingway, you will NEVER be irrelevant. Especially in Erika’s capable storytelling hands. Can’t WAIT to read it! xo JK

  5. Rima Jean says:

    Erika – you know what’s weird? Some of my best story ideas have come to me while in a half-asleep daze while nursing my kids as babies. 😛

    This is a terrific story. Historical fiction comes a live when you, as the author or reader, visit the sites of your story. It’s a wonderful feeling!

  6. alipet813 says:

    Erika – I can’t wait until we can all read Hemmingway’s Girl. I loved Receive Me Falling!

  7. Lisa Adams says:

    The house is beautiful… and so are you. What a great connection and inspiration for the book. Lovely that you could spend time there.

  8. I got all goose-bumpy when I read about your dream and Hemingway’s words to you. What a great story, Erika. So glad you followed that inspiration, because, LOOK – a two book deal from a major publisher. I’m so happy for you! I felt the same way when I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon, in Shakespeare’s stomping grounds in the UK. So inspired, so in awe. Had a similar experience when doing research at a Shaker museum in Ohio.. it really gets the creativity flowing to see those artifacts, and literally ‘walk’ among that history. Would love to go back there as well. Have you shared details of your next book/WIP?

    • erikarobuck says:

      Stratford-Upon-Avon! Amazing!

      I’d love to do a Jane Austen/UK tour someday. It’s on the bucket list. There is magic in physically visiting historically and personally significant places.

      I have not yet shared details of my new WIP, but I’ve been dropping hints. If you ever check out my #fridayreads on Twitter, you’ll see a research trend. 😉

  9. Oh, Erika! How cool! Talk about life tapping you on the shoulder and pointing the way. Love that you were able to take another trip to Key West to prepare for next year. Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!!

  10. I’ve always been intrigued by the way our stories choose us. What a wonderful dream! It’s funny how the spirit of a place and a person still have so much power. I’m so happy you’ll be giving them voice. Can’t wait to read your novel. xxoo

  11. “You have to write my book because I’ve become irrelevant.” What a wonderful way to sum up the essence of literature, how it brings relevance or renewed relevance to the people, places, experiences and emotions that make society what it is today. Can’t wait to read your books, Erika!

  12. erikarobuck says:

    Thanks so much, Ladies. It is truly a thrilling experience.

  13. Great pics, Erika! And it sounds like you really did have some divine inspiration, and look how it turned out. I’m definitely going to work on a historical novel sometime soon. Want excuse for research travel! 🙂

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