Tag: #nyc


Fueling Wonder for 40 Years

What fueled wonder for you when you were a kid?  I just had a Twitter discussion with my friend Don Bentley (check out his debut release! LINK: Without Sanction) about C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He’d shared how he’d scoured his grandma’s house for years looking for a wardrobe. I was the same! Hoping to find a doorway to another world of color, adventure, and dreams. Another one of my wonder-decisions was from a commercial where Juicy Fruit Gum grew on trees. I of course planted a piece of Juicy Fruit Gum, hoping desperately that in the morning there would be a large Juicy Fruit tree grown taller than our house with thousands of packs of gum hanging off the branches. I bet there were millions of pieces of gum planted throughout the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. (You can see the actual commercial in link above. Note of caution: you WILL be singing the song all day). On a scary scale, when I was a child, we had painting in our dining room of a girl who looked like a young, but beaten down servant. Her […]

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City of Dreams

Last night I was getting ready for my class at Gotham Writers HQ, which is at 38th & 8th, one of the few parts of New York City that is not being snapped up by billionaires. I was on the 14th floor, heard some commotion on the street, went over to the window to look outside and saw this scene. I am transfixed by this picture, partly because it looks like something Edward Hopper might have painted had he worked for Gotham. But mainly because it so perfectly captures how I feel about the city. There’s something murky, dreamy and lonely about the picture. Everyone who spends time in NYC must be conscious of the fact that although the city hums with millions of people, you are alone as you walk through it. You also cannot walk two feet without overhearing someone talking about their dreams, whether it’s for a financial venture or a screenplay or something more lurid. I’m imagining the woman in this picture woman walking along, plotting out her novel, and perhaps coming to an unexpected understanding of where it’s all going. Then she’ll slip into that hotel, get a drink and go to work. Do you […]

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Three New Yorks, maybe Four?

E.B. White’s observation can’t be bettered: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. … Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ” My husband and I moved to Manhattan in August of 1998.  I have lived here longer than I have any other  place on the planet. I feel very at home, but, as E.B. White would point out, I am a settler. My children are natives, and I am not. This whole city–in all its wonderful madness–is normal to them. To me, it is amazing. It’s amazing that I have a favorite bakery for sour dough (Orwashers) and a different one for focaccia (Agata). I love that the brother-sister team who run my favorite handbag store, which has been in their family for generations, ask about my kids (Suarez), and the amazing gentleman who owns my favorite shoe store has let me peak inside his suitcases full of shoe-related accessories when he returns from his regular trips to Milan (Diane B).  I love the energy, the museums, the libraries, the parks, the way people dress, the individuality, and the diversity. I love that New Yorkers expect everyone to have a different opinion, but they also expect you to be able to discuss said opinion with intelligence and an openness to, perhaps, changing your mind. New Yorkers do not, on the whole, suffer fools gladly. This is not a city for intellectual laziness. Your cab driver will cite corroborating sources for his point of view. Speaking of having different opinions, I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors what they think of my adopted home. They did not disappoint. While I think E.B. White is pretty much on the mark, I will suggest that maybe there is a Fourth New York: The New York of the visitor. The New York of the person who visits once in a lifetime, or, possibly, makes regular pilgrimages. Susan, Alexia, Tracee, Michele, Paula, Cate, and Robin offer up this Fourth New York.  Susan: It’s so interesting that you ask that because I just returned to New York City today after being away in England. Our plane landed at Kennedy Airport and I walked into Immigration Hall and there was this huge and vibrant mural (by Deborah Masters) of NYC scenes. (I’ve attached a photo.) Everyone around me was speaking a different language. Many of the immigration officers were speaking different languages. I just felt absorbed into the vitality of New York City, and I felt very at home. Alexia: I’ve never lived in NYC and have only visited it a few times so I can’t say I love anything thing in particular about it. I love cities in general. They have a fabulous energy and you can be alone in a crowd. NYC has gorgeous architecture. I love art deco flourishes on the windows and doorways of many of the buildings. I do love the New York accent (and the Brooklyn and Bronx and Long Island accents). I read somewhere the New York accent is dying out. I hope not. And I like New Yorkers. The stories I heard about them being cold and unhelpful aren’t true. The one time a New Yorker, a bus driver, was rude to me, as soon as he realized I was visiting from out of town, he changed his tone and became super helpful. New Yorkers seem to want to be ambassadors for their city. Tracee: I’ve never lived in NYC, but I have spent a good deal of time there starting with my first ever visitwhen I was sixteen. It was a week long stop over before a longer trip to Europe, definitely my first time in a truly large city, and I was thrilled. What I most remember was how kind everyone was to the kids from out of town. To me, all cities are a dose of culture writ large. I love the museums and art galleries, hotels, street culture, outdoor specialty markets, Grand Central Terminal and the Botanical Garden train display in the holiday season, and so much more. My favorite memory is, and will likely remain, a trip to see the re-lighting of the Statue of Liberty. Visiting with a friend, we watched from Battery Park…. by far the best fireworks I’d ever seen! Ironically the man I would eventually marry was watching them from an apartment overlooking Battery Park….. a shared memory before we even met! That’s New York magic. Michele: I hesitate to say this, but I used to hate New York. The few times I ventured to the city when I lived in Connecticut, I felt overwhelmed and suffocated. I was sure the towering concrete and brick buildings were going to collapse on me. I wondered where was the sky, the birds (pigeons don’t count), the trees. Clearly, I hadn’t gotten to Central Park! Then I spent a week in New York when I took Robert McKee’s Story seminar, which was held at the Screen Actors Guild. I stayed in a tiny hotel and explored what would be my neighborhood for the week. By the third day, my barista at Starbucks already knew my order, I had found restaurants where I didn’t mind eating alone because I was eating with other solitary diners, and I had explored my turf. I found my way to Central Park, discovered food I’d never tried before, and before you knew it I was chanting I love New York. The key for me was appreciating that it is a city of many neighborhoods filled with people, sounds, and scents, not a colossal granite kingdom where I was lost. And I learned how friendly New Yorkers are. Paula: I first visited New York in the late Seventies as a teenager in love with a New Yorker, and I saw New York through his eyes. New York was a far more dangerous city then, but he didn’t let it scare him and I didn’t let it scare me. I fell in love with the energy of the city and the way her people celebrate the arts. I spend a week a month there these days—the perfect antidote to my village life in New England. I never fail to leave restored, refreshed, and re-invigorated. Not to mention saddled with lots of shopping bags. Cate: I love New York City. I grew up in Teaneck NJ, 12 miles outside, and it always seemed like a place where life would be more exciting and cultured and grown up—where I could be more exciting and cultured and grown up. After college, I lived there for about a decade. I love that NYC is constantly changing. I remember being in a band and playing a club called Le Bar Bat, which was a deconsecrated church that had been turned into a recording studio that had then become a night club. Now, I think, it’s a restaurant. New York is a place of reinvention. People come there from elsewhere to be different from where they came from, and I think New Yorkers celebrate that—not just tolerate it. Robin: I’ve never lived in NYC but I’m a frequent visitor. It’s always been a magical place to me, from my first trip with my parents when I was a teenager. I was a theater kid and remain a huge fan of stage and screen so Broadway, of course, is a huge draw. I’ve been known to make the cross-country trip to see a particular cast or a particular show that I knew wouldn’t travel. I’ve also gone to see particular musicians because they’re playing in a small venue. Of course, I go for writer’s events. And I sometimes go just because I miss it. Like San Francisco, it’s constantly changing while holding onto its history. What’s most striking to me, though, is the people. The population is 10x that of San Francisco yet people are friendly and get along. There’s a ballet in the foot traffic on the crowded sidewalks, which is my preferred mode of transportation so I can take it all in. 

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Carrie Smith on New York, Detective Claire Codella, and Edgar Allen Poe

Alison: First of all, congratulations on winning the Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice Award and being a Silver Falchion Award Finalist for 2018! Unholy City is the third in your Detective Claire Codella mysteries. Like the first book Silent City and then Forgotten City, your books are set in New York. What about the city do you find makes for a compelling background? Carrie: There are endless hidden pockets of the city to explore, and an abundance of characters to cast. Nowhere else, at least in this country, do you find so much diversity—socio-economic, ethnic, religious, gender—and I have always been compelled to explore the interactions among characters with different passions, perspectives, beliefs, and motivations. Alison: For those who don’t already know Detective Claire Codella, can you introduce us? Carrie: Claire Codella is a tough, tenacious NYPD detective who earned her spot on a central homicide squad after solving a series of high-profile cold case homicides. Shortly after her promotion, she was diagnosed with lymphoma and spent ten months fighting for her own life. When readers meet her in SILENT CITY (the first novel in the series), it is her first day back on the job after cancer. She’s under pressure to prove that she still has what it takes to do the job, and she is well aware that her angry, misogynistic lieutenant would prefer that she had succumbed to her disease. Alison: Is there a fourth book in the works? Anything you can share? Carrie: I finished my fourth crime novel last month, but it’s not a Claire Codella mystery (I’m just taking a break). This one’s a thriller that follows a fiery young immigration attorney and her client, a hotel worker framed for theft and facing a terrible choice between deportation and sexual servitude. Alison: I mentioned to you, I’m dedicating this week to writers in New York. So, I’m going to get personal. You were born and brought up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? If so, why? Carrie: Absolutely, I consider myself a New Yorker, although even after all these years people still hear the inflections of the Midwest in my voice. I’ve lived in the city since 1982, spending a decade in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before moving to the Upper West Side. And while I will never be able to claim “native New Yorker” status, my New Yorker resume does include raising two now-twenty-year-old native New Yorkers here. Alison: How has the city changed since you moved here? Carrie: When I moved to New York City in 1982, Ed Koch was mayor. The city was still recovering from a financial crisis. The crack epidemic was raging. City streets were dirty. The subways were graffiti’d. The AIDS crisis had begun. It was by far a grittier place than it is today. I’ve watched the skyline change, Broadway become a giant outdoor mall, and entire neighborhoods be gentrified (for better or worse). Alison: What New York writers do you love?  Carrie: Edgar Allan Poe has to sit at the top of my list, since I live on Edgar Allan Poe Street (West 84th Street) in a building that stands on the location where he is said to have written The Raven. In Cold Blood is, in my mind, the ultimate true-crime book, so I’ll include Truman Capote as well.And I have to include award-winning author SJ Rozan, whose Lidia Chin and Bill Smith mysteries vividly portray New York’s neighborhoods, especially Chinatown. Patricia Highsmith wasn’t born here, but she lived here for many years, and I love her work, so I’ll include her, too.
Alison: What about New York could you not live without?  Carrie: Broadway theater, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Riverside Park, the footpath around the reservoir in Central Park where I do most of my plot thinking, bread from Zabar’s, fish from Citarella, organic produce from Fairway. I’m sure I’m forgetting something… Alison: Thank you, Carrie! Next time I’m at Fairway standing in line (or “standing on line,” for those of you who really want New York), I’ll think of you.   

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L.A. Chandlar on The Gold Pawn and New York City

Alison: Congratulations on the release of The Gold Pawn! In your first book in this series, The Silver Gun, I feel you portray New York City almost as a character as much as a setting. How does the city feature in this second book? Laurie: Thank you! In The Gold Pawn, the main mystery takes place in New York City, but Lane Sanders, aide to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, must also face the ghosts of her past as she discovers a disturbing link between her family’s secrets and the current mystery she’s embroiled in. Lane continues to soak up life in NYC, and she witnesses the unique and magical things that the city spontaneously provides. So YES, New York is a major character! But you also have Detroit and Rochester, Michigan added to the story this time. The history in both the small town of Rochester and the industrious Detroit of the 1930s is delicious. There are some fun cameos and real history with the restaurants, vintage cars, and other establishments that gave the cities their special personality. Alison: For those who don’t already know Lane Sanders, can you introduce us? Laurie: Lane Sanders is the twenty-four-year-old vivacious, clever aide to one of America’s greatest mayors, Fiorello La Guardia. She not only helps him administratively, but her intuitive observations lend him critical help in the nuance that his boisterous and take-charge demeanor sometimes misses. She sees herself as an amateur investigative reporter and finds herself in the crosshairs as the controversial mayor is often threatened by the gangsters he’s ousted just as much as her own family history compels her involvement. Alison: I heard it from a little bird that there’s a third book in the series. Anything you can share? Laurie: Yes! The Pearl Dagger releases next year this time, where Lane and her love interest Finn take a voyage to London in early 1937 to not only discover if a crime network is starting up all over again, but to find out if Finn can face the ghosts of his own past and his dark secrets that have been held over him for many years. Again, the main mystery takes place in NYC, but my crew gets to take a trip on the Queen Mary and returns on the Normandie. Expect some fabulous cameos and history – I adore illuminating historical points of interest that may have been lost over the years. And of course, Lane lends her own special spark to any and all intrigues. Alison: I mentioned to you I’m dedicating this week to writers in New York. So, I’m going to get personal. Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? If so, why? Laurie: YES! Not only have I lived here over 17 years now, I feel like NYC is in my blood. Right when I moved here, I had this crazy sensation that I’d been looking for the city my whole life and just didn’t know it.
 Alison: How has the city changed since you moved here? Laurie: The city has definitely gone through some shifts in the almost two decades I’ve lived here. First of all, I moved here two weeks after 9/11 which was a rare and strange time to move to the city. The people of the neighborhood we moved in to were warm, welcoming, and shocked that we still moved in! I have adored the city, and there is a strange quality that Lane notices, too. That the more the city changes, the more it stays the same. There is a lot of history here and I think it’s the spirit that is the thing that remains, whether there are newer and taller buildings, faster cars, new fashion…
 Alison: What New York writers do you love?  Laurie: Besides D.A. Bartley? Hmmm… (Yes, Laurie is that funny and sweet in person) Of COURSE Caleb Carr and The Alienist. I have a penchant for historical mystery, so Victoria Thompson and the Gaslight Mysteries, R.J. Koreto and his Alice Roosevelt series (Teddy’s wild daughter whom I love), and I continually have little remnants of Pete Hammill’s book, Forever, floating around my mind.
 Alison: What about New York could you not live without?  Laurie: The energy of learning. I love the idea that you don’t have to plan for adventure here. Just walking around, you come upon magnificent, idea-challenging, sparks of interest. From arriving early at a meeting only to pop out of the cab on a fall day in front of St. John the Divine cathedral and its artistic garden. To waiting for a subway in December only to have 102 giddy Santa Clauses flood out of the single car. To walking into a cold, wet subway station in February and suddenly hearing the strands of “The Bittersweet Symphony” come across from a violin trio. That surprising aspect never gets old.  Thank you, Laurie! 

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An Interview with Cathi Stoler about Books, Murder, and a Good Cocktail

Jude Dillane runs The Corner Lounge, a bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As we soon discover, though, the protagonist in Cathi Stoler’s new series Bar None:  A Murder On The Rocks Mystery,  has a lot more to deal with than food and drink.   Alison: Thanks so much for taking time out to talk about your latest, Cathi. I was lucky enough to read the ARC, so I know that you give the reader an insider’s look into the food business in New York. Can you tell me what exactly was the inspiration for BAR NONE? Cathi: My husband was in the bar and restaurant business for a long time, first as an owner and later as manager and bar manager. He worked mostly near our home, so I visited often. I got to know all the employees from the bus boys to the cooks, to the wait staff, and bar tenders. It was an education. Some pretty crazy things happened and they stuck with me. I thought using some of these incidents in a novel would be fun. And, it was, especially the scene in which Jude’s now-famous actor friend, Vin Pell, visits The Lounge and causes quite a commotion. Alison: What abut Jude Dillane? Is she based on anyone in particular? Cathi: Jude is a composite of several people. She grew up in the Bronx, just like I did, but the comparison ends there. She’s had sorrow in her life growing up and is trying her best to move onward, like several people I know. She’s also feisty, snarky and a smart-mouth, traits her customers seem to find amusing, rather than insulting. Alison: She has a strong relationship with her landlord and friend, Thomas “Sully” Sullivan. How does that impact the story? Cathi: It impacts the story a great deal. Sully is almost a father figure to her, although neither of them admits it. They rely on each other and she would never turn down his request for help. A request that leads her to a dead body and a whole lot of trouble. Plus, the fact that she has to go back to the Bronx to solve the crime—a borough she swore never to set foot in again—makes her task even harder. Alison: Since The Corner Lounge is also a restaurant, a lot of information about food and drinks in the book. Is there a signature drink? Cathi: There is a signature drink; it’s called Jalapeno Envy. The recipe for it is in the back of the book along with recipes for some of the food served at The Lounge. If you’d like to try it while reading Bar None, here’s the recipe below.  Jalapeno Envy 2 oz. Patron Gold Tequila     1 oz. Agave Syrup         1/8 Ripe Mango Squeeze of lime Jalapeno pepper cut into thin rings  Place tequila, agave syrup, and mango in blender with half dozen ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass and add a squeeze of lime. Float jalapeno pepper rings on top. Thank you, so much Cathi!  For those of you in New York, Cathi has two events coming up this fall: October 18th at 6:30 pm is the Launch party for Bar None at The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren Street. November 28th at 6:30 pm with Jenny Milchman, Lindsay Corsi Staub & Carol Goodman at Shakespeare & Co., 939 Lexington Avenue. Hope to see you there! 

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New York, New Yorkers, and Dru Ann Love

 I admit it. I love New York … for a lot of reasons. There are the little things. The first crisp morning in the fall, a bag of still-warm bagels, early morning walks in Central Park, getting lost in the Met, ogling cheeses at Agata & Valentina, ogling shoes at Diane B, noodles in Korea Town, chopped chicken Cobb salad from my local diner. Then there are the big things. The names that get capitalized and are spoken of with reverence: The Whitney, The U.S. Open, Eleven Madison Park, Fashion Week, Broadway, The Empire State Building. You know, all those things that get described as world class? That list is long. Then, there are the New Yorkers. I’ve lived in several small towns, a suburb or two, and a few big cities. New Yorkers are some of the most helpful, quirky, friendly, and fabulous people you’ll ever meet, which is why I’m dedicating this week to loving New Yorkers. I’m playing journalist for the next few days as I track down some of New York’s very own book people, starting with a woman who needs no introduction, Dru Ann Love. As anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Dru, you know she absolutely radiates positivity and kindness. Not only is she a 2017 MWA Raven Award Recipient and blogger extraordinaire, she’s also a native New Yorker. While she’s usually the one doing the asking, I pinned her down and asked her a few questions of my own.  Alison: First of all, congratulations on being nominated for the 2018 Anthony Award Best Online Content! I’m not alone in knowing that Dru’s Book Musings is one of the best on-line resources for both mystery readers and mystery writers. None of us who check out your blog regularly would want to live without out it. Thank you. What amazes me constantly is how much and how quickly you read. How many books do you get through in an average week? Dru: Thank you. On average, I read 2-3 books per week. If I read short stories or a story featured in an anthology, that may bring the number of books read up to four. Alison: Your “day in the life” is genius. It’s such a fun way for readers to get to know characters from their favorite books. How did you come up with the idea? Dru: I told this story multiple times, but I’ll put a different spin to this question. You know how sometimes you finish a book that captured your attention and you felt part of all the action? So, after the killer is caught, don’t you think, what else is the protagonist going to do next in their normal life? And that’s how I came up with this feature. What is a typical day when the protagonist is not chasing down clues and solving a murder. Alison: As someone who has read as much as you have–and with an analytical eye–can you tell us what makes you fall in love with a novel? Dru: Sometimes it’s that first page or the first chapter or it can also be the characters. A book, again, that pulls you in where you wish you had 24 solid hours to enjoy the story being told. Sometimes I can judge a good book when I missed my subway stop because I got immersed in all that I was reading. Alison: Do you consider yourself a New Yorker?  Dru: I was born and raised and still live in the borough of Brooklyn. A true New Yorker born and bred, can tell you the exact borough, neighborhood and street where they grew up. The right of passage for a New Yorker is taking that first solo subway ride or bus ride.  Alison: What New York writers do you love?  Dru: Too many to count and do you mean New York City writers? If so, there is you, Susan Elia MacNeal, Cathi Soler, Triss Stein, Annamaria Alfieri, Hilary Davidson, Jane K. Cleland, Elizabeth Zelvin, Carrie Smith to name a few. Alison: What about New York could you not live without?  Dru: The subway, since I don’t drive.  That may be the most New Yorker answer one could get. Thank you, Dru!           

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