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.