Det kanske inte finns någon verklighetens Lily Dahl, men annat i romanen har sina verkliga motsvarigheter. I essän Yonder skriver hon så här om sin roman:
For the past four years I've been writing a novel set in my hometown, or rather in a fictional version of Northfield. The town in the book is not the real town, but it resembles it strongly. It has another name, Webster, and although it resembles the real town, its geography is askew. I have taken real places - the Ideal Cafe, the Stuart Hotel, Tiny's Smoke Shop, the Cannon River, and Heath Creek, with their names intact - but I relocated some of these places and gave them new inhabitants.[...] When I walk past the Ideal Cafe, where Lily Dahl, the heroine of my novel, works, I don't feel much. I find myself looking closely at it, examining the windows on the second floor, behind which is Lily's imaginary apartment, but it just isn't the place I made for myself in fiction. [...] Writing fiction is like remembering what never happended. It mimics memory without being memory.I en annan essä, The Plea for Eros, berättar Hustvedt om en ung man som på ett hotfullt sätt brukade följa efter henne. Han hade också en tvillingbror som hade "killed himself in a cafe in a nearby town. He had gone there for breakfast and then, after finishing his meal, took out a gun and blew his brains out." Denna episod har också en motsvarighet i romanen om än satt i ett annat sammanhang.