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Is ‘Firefly Lane’ Based on a True Story? The Inspiration For Netflix’s Hit Drama

"Firefly Lane" will make you cry in the best way.
"Firefly Lane"
Image: Courtesy of Netflix.

Since its premiere on Netflix, viewers have wanted to know if Firefly Lane is based on a true story and what the inspiration is for Katherine Heigl’s return to TV.

Firefly Lane, which premiered on Netflix on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, stars Heigl as Tully Hart, a famous host of the fictional talk show The Girlfriend Hour. Sarah Chalke plays Kate Mularkey, Tully’s best friend since high school and a woman who’s trying to get back into the workforce while working through a divorce with her husband. The show, on which Heigl is an executive producer, flashes back and forth between young Tully and Kate and the characters as adults. So is Firefly Lane based on a true story? Here’s what we know.

Is Firefly Lane based on a true story?

The source material for Firefly Lane is Kristin Hannah’s 2009 book of the same title.
Like the show, the book also flashes back and forth between Kate and Tully in eighth grade to them as adults. Though the show is inspired by the book, Hannah—who has written other bestsellers like The Nightingale and Winter Garden—based a lot of the story on her life. In an interview with University of Washington Magazine in 2019, Hannah described Firefly Lane as the “most personal and autobiographical” of her novels.

Similarities between Hannah’s life and Firefly Lane‘s characters include their relationship with the University of Washington, majoring in communications, as well as references to songs, clothes and places in Seattle that Hannah remembers from that era of her life. “Most places that I write about are places that I have lived … If you know a place and live there, you can bring something special to the table,” Hannah told Seattle PI in 2011. After the success of Firefly Lane, Hannah published a sequel titled Fly Away, which followed Kate’s 16-year-old daughter Marah as she navigates the events of the first book.

On her website, Hannah also listed locations she used in the book in case readers are “interested in a Firefly Lane memory lane tour.” “This novel hits really close to home on a lot of levels, so there are plenty of correlations to my own life,” Hannah wrote on her website. “First and foremost-the clothes. Yes, I remember wearing them all-elephant leg bell bottoms, tie-dyed T shirts, Earth shoes, shoulder pads, stirrup pants, leg warmers, and last but not least-polyester.”

She continued, “And how about those hairstyles? Each one is named after and forever immortalized by the celebrity who made it famous. These were the pictures we brought into our small-town beauty salons and tried religiously to follow: The Marcia Brady center-part, long and straight; the Farrah Fawcett, the Dorothy Hamill (this was for my senior picture, in which I was in soft focus and staring down at a rose), the horrifying asymmetrical (am I the only one who remembers this???), the Linda Evans, and last but by no means least, the Rachel.”

As for the locations, Hannah listed these sites to visit for anyone interested in living the lives of characters in Firefly Lane. “Since I went to the University of Washington, I remember a lot of locations used in the book. Anyone interested in a Firefly Lane memory lane tour should try: The Last Exit coffee house (is it even still there?), Kels pub in Pioneer Square, which is still a great time, Starbucks in the Public Market, a ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, Goldies tavern in the U District, Greek row at the University of Washington (I’m sure you can still find a ton of parties happening there on Saturday nights), and the view of Seattle at night from Rockaway Beach,” Hannah wrote.

Firefly Lane is available to stream on Netflix. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah and its sequel, Fly Away, is available on Amazon

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