Authoress Lesley M. M. Blume is nothing short of a verbile logolept, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Simply put, she's captivated and most easily inspired by words. A fitting description for Blume, who's own love of parisology helped fashion her debut literary creation Cornelia Street Englehart, a precocious girl with an appetite for delightfully complicated words in Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters.
"I, like Cornelia, love words and I'm a relentless nerd about them still," Blume confessed. "I get e-mails from Dictionary.com everyday and I'm always looking for delicious little things to drop into conversation."
Each chapter is drenched in words like logolept and verbile, and was inspired not only by ambiguous language, also known as parisology, but by a true British adventuress and friend of Blume's.
"The idea came about from actually quite a sad story," Blume said. "An acquaintance of mine who was wild, very beautiful, very brave and very off the beaten path, passed away from leukemia at 27."
"I was thinking about her and kept hearing these children running up and down the hallway," she continued. "I remember thinking if you were sick, would that sound be consoling to you? And that's how [Cornelia and Virginia] came about."
A New York City native herself, Blume set the story in a charming brownstone in Greenwich Village. There, 11-year-old Cornelia, a terribly lonely girl and the daughter of a non-stop touring concert pianist, meets Virginia Somerset, a writer and expert in global gallivanting.
The two form an instant bond over afternoons filled with mint tea and colorful stories of Virginia's past.
"Virginia is really for me a wish figure," Blume explained. "Somebody who breathes every quality that you admire — adventurous, kind, gloriously educated, everything you would want to be an influence early in life."
Both characters are pure invention, and yet they and many scenes are touched by Blume's childhood memories. Blume's mother was also a concert pianist and friend of several eccentric characters that inspired many chapters.
"The dearest parts to me were the New York scenes," she said. "They were very personal [and] just a window into what their life is like, filled with all of these artists who are so talented, but so egotistical. It's a very peculiar environment for a kid and it was wonderful for me to remember what that was like."
Guilty of actually howling like a dog when her mother's opera-singing friend would visit like Cornelia, Blume also incorporated experiences later in life working for ABC News "Nightline." It was inevitable her countless travel logs and news reports would later inspire the Somerset sisters.
"I was very frustrated with work, very burnt out from years [of] doing a very intense news cycle," Blume said. "It's liberating and a wonderful spin on journalism for me to combine truth and fiction. Draw on experiences, characters in my real life and put them in a fictional format."
Although writing about Cornelia was a refreshing change, Blume was not willing to abandon her news training entirely. She writes creative fiction on the brink of reporting.
"Being a full-time reporter you don't bend facts," she said. "It's very important to have as much basis as possible when you have a non-fictional character in fiction, because otherwise [readers] might not trust your narrator."