Topic: Blended art and fiction in 'Girl in Hyacinth Blue' and other novels

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    Once filled, her mind spun out a string of novels, blending visual art, literature and fiction, several that became New York Times bestsellers and established Vreeland as one of San Diego’s most admired authors. Her novel “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” inspired the 2003 television movie “Brush with Fate,” starring Glenn Close and Ellen Burstyn.

    Born in Racine, Wis., Vreeland grew up in North Hollywood, where trips to the library with her father, an aviation production manager, introduced her to the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, the short stories of Guy de Maupassant and the power of words.

    “I was a too-sensitive child,” she later would write, “unable to distinguish between truth and fiction, prone to nightmares, gouged by cruelty.” Parental attempts at soothing her — “It’s only a story” — carried little weight then and would strike her as ironic later, after her own literary career took hold.

    From her mother came a love of the visual arts, passed down through relatives who painted portraits and landscapes.

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