word craft


New York, New York

I have lived in Col­orado for the past twen­ty-five years, but I was born and raised in New York City, left for my col­lege years, then returned and began my writ­ing years there. Not sur­pris­ing­ly it has left a major impres­sion on me so much so I still think of myself as a New York­er. It’s hard­ly a puz­zle as to why it is the set­ting for a good num­ber of my books. 

Here are my pre­vi­ous New York books:

In this list is a graph­ic nov­el, a ghost sto­ry, an ani­mal tale, and what I think is my fun­ni­est book. Includ­ed in the one that hews most close­ly to my own life, though it is fiction.

Now I have fin­ished the first draft of a new one (unti­tled) which sits on my editor’s desk. Its set­ting is NYC, 1911.

NYC, of course, holds a unique place in Amer­i­can soci­ety and his­to­ry. Its Dutch ori­gins gave it a spe­cial and lib­er­al legal sys­tem. As New Ams­ter­dam and then New York, (always new!) its’ over­rid­ing com­mer­cial inter­ests made it rel­a­tive­ly free (com­pared to the oth­er colonies) of offi­cial reli­gious estab­lish­ments. It was where the biggest bat­tle of the Rev­o­lu­tion took place. It was the first cap­i­tal of the USA and George Wash­ing­ton took the oath to become the first pres­i­dent there. The ear­ly 19th Cen­tu­ry Erie Canal (which fed into the city) meant the eco­nom­ics of the vast inte­ri­or of the Unit­ed States was direct­ly con­nect­ed to the city so that it became the finan­cial cen­ter of the nation. In the oth­er direc­tion, it was the chief port for the entry of immi­grants, (like my great grand-par­ents) many of who remained in the city, giv­ing it extra­or­di­nary diver­si­ty. In the time of my youth, three major league base­ball teams! Jack­ie Robin­son. In that time it became the cul­tur­al cap­i­tal of the country—music, pub­lish­ing, and art. 

When quite young (eight or nine) I was allowed (alone) to take the Sub­way where I wished. I loved those sub­ways and always went to the front car (allowed then) to stare into the dark and mys­te­ri­ous tun­nels, while keep­ing an envi­ous eye on the motor­man. As a rest­less teenag­er, I would leave my Brook­lyn home day or night—unbeknown to my parents—and walk over the Brook­lyn Bridge and wan­der about the city. I have clear mem­o­ries of mean­der­ing alone at night through the desert­ed finan­cial areas along the nar­row streets as laid out by the Dutch, sur­round­ed by gigan­tic build­ings, while high above in the nooks and cran­nies of the build­ings, mil­lions of birds twit­tered in their night-time roosts. 

When I wrote my most recent book I need­ed to go back to the city and again see the places about which I was writ­ing. Twice I had tick­ets in hand. Twice Covid surges said “no.” So I had to write from mem­o­ry. But as I enter the revi­sion process I plan to go if only to see if my mem­o­ry served me well.

“New York, New York … If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.”

Here’s hop­ing my new New York book makes it.

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