Douglas Fenn Wilson’s parallel passion––alongside the visual arts––is writing fiction. Since 1988 he’s devoted major blocks of time to crafting stories that bear similarity to his multi-layered paintings. His first novel Postumus Lovers, set alternately in Augustan Rome and late 20th century America, reached completion in 2000.
A second dual-timeline novel The Michelangelist, completed more recently, bridges the lives of two twenty-five-year-old sculptors—the young Michelangelo Buonarotti as he struggles to complete The David, and a fictitious, modern day American Sean Everett. Their shared passion and sense of purpose bring them together in spirit—a transcendent realm in which past and present, fact and fiction are separated by only a blink.
Between longer projects, Wilson writes short fiction. Each of the six stories he’s written so far uses as a point of departure a well-known American painting. Characters inanimate in paint and canvas step briefly out of frames to revisit a poignant life passage. A collection of ten stories, linked together into a kind of gallery, is Wilson’s vision.
In 2021 the Bellevue Literary Journal published his story Saffron, inspired by Edward Hopper’s 11:00 A.M. An earlier story Ferrin’s Crossing, inspired by Winslow Homer’s watercolor After the Hurricane, was published by the Orange Coast Review in 2006.
Wilson’s literary torchbearers are John Fowles, the dual-timeline masters A.S. Byatt and Umberto Eco, and many more. He’s attended writers conferences at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, Squaw Valley, Key West, and Kauai, where he studied with Barry Hannah, Robert Stone, Amy Hempel, Diane Johnson, Alice McDermott, and Richard Russo.