“A Matter of Chance,” began in a workshop where I discovered the character of Maddy Stewart. I had been writing to a prompt with three other writers. We were by a lake. I was sitting at a picnic table. What would happen if a child were kidnapped but the story was told from the point of view of the mother who searches for her daughter over a five-year journey? How would the mother—Maddy Stewart—change?
By chance, I stumbled upon the “grieving mother” series, drawings by the most revered artist in Germany—Käthe Kollwitz—at the Morgan Library in New York City. I knew then that I had to fly to Germany to the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Cologne to view the work of this prominent artist. My trip took me throughout Bavaria—a region lush with enthralling landscapes. But it was the artist herself who drew me into the story. Kollwitz was a mother and artist who struggled with loss. Her work depicts darkness but with a tenderness yearning to be understood.
I was deeply touched by this artist. Indeed, she was the muse for “A Matter of Chance.” While writing, I’d often stop to study the images of Kollwitz in the several books I collected of her art.