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IU South Bend professor pens novella inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house

Rose Metal Press

Oct. 9, 2013

From the moment Kelcey Parker stepped into Fallingwater, the famous house that American architect Frank Lloyd Wright built for the Kaufmann family in the late 1930s, she knew she wanted to write about it.

Since that first visit in 2009 during a chance stop in Ohiopyle, Penns., while on family vacation, Parker -- director of the Creative Writing Program at IU South Bend --  has written “Liliane’s Balcony,” a novella told from the perspective of Liliane Kaufman, the wife of E.J. Kaufmann and who overdoses on pain pills during one September night in 1952. The story alternates between Liliane’s point of view and the fictional narratives of four modern-day tourists.

Inside IU readers who are current faculty and staff members can enter to win a copy of “Liliane’s Balcony” (Rose Metal Press, a value of $14.95), using a valid IU email address.

It was clear to Parker that the story she heard from tour guides on one of her subsequent visits was different from the stories she found through research.

“What I appreciate about the staff at Fallingwater is how their work tends to stem from a love for the place and the Kaufmann family, and they told me they feel protective of Liliane in particular,” Parker said. “This makes total sense to me, as I was drawn into her story by a strong feeling of sympathy and fascination and respect, and I hope my portrayal of her reflects all of these feelings.”

Parker soon discovered that although E.J.’s infidelities were a source of tension in the family, Liliane’s drug overdose remained a secret.

Parker began working as a tour guide at Fallingwater, where she walked the grounds answering visitors’ questions about the house and its history.

“My favorite part of the job was when I turned the tables and asked visitors about their travels to Fallingwater -- why and who these people from around the world found their way to this place in rural Pennsylvania."

About Kelcey Parker

Parker is an associate professor of English at IU South Bend, where she has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in fiction and non-fiction creative writing. She’s the author of “For Sale By Owner,” which won the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award in Short Fiction and was a Finalist for the 2012 Best Books of Indiana.  Her stories have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Indiana Review. Parker maintains the blog “ph.d. in creative writing & other stories.”  

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