As you can tell from the title, the city of New York plays a big role in my first novel, New York Dolls (out from 48fourteen Publishing the week of Nov. 17, 2014). I’ve been immersed in doing the last round of edits for the novel while also unexpectedly reacquainting myself with nonstop reruns of Sex and the City. (Any day now, I’m guessing E! will re-brand as the Carrie Bradshaw Network.) So I’ve got NYC on the brain.
In New York Dolls, my main character, Denton Hodges, is a Southern transplant to New York City. She arrived on the island of Manhattan armed with big dreams and a whole lot of hope about who she could become by living there. After she lands her dream job, however, Denton’s first major assignment for Glitter magazine leads her down a path she never could have imagined.
That’s New York, though. Just when you’re going about your day in one direction, you very often find yourself turning a corner, hopping a train, or catching a cab to some place unexpected. Maybe it’s a delightful bakery and a fashion show (in Denton’s case). Or a sidewalk movie premiere and a graduate thesis course to work on “Searching for Identity within Community: Sex and the City’s Jumbled Narrative” (in my case).
Much of what I found in doing my master’s thesis I also found in the city itself when I lived there. From the novel: “New York City is what you make of it. ‘What you make of it’ piled on loose dreams of who you might be in another life.”
There is much of myself in New York Dolls, but it is largely a work of fiction. Still, a few real-life gems made it in to Denton’s experiences, including the following:
“On those walks, sometimes I’d stop in Washington Square Park and sit for a few hours, listening to a percussion trio that had assembled near the fountain or a spoken word poet warning us all of the evils of modernity. I brought my journal with me, but the pages remained mostly blank, save for the occasional scribble twists I’d draw on letters of my name. One afternoon, a very kind-looking older man sat down next to me. ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’ he said. I nodded yes. ‘Would you like to buy some Viagra?’ he asked. When I said no, he asked if perhaps I would be more interested in gel cap Xanax or powder coke. I said no again, he left, and I decided it was time to go back to the apartment and take a shower.”
It’s funny what can happen in a New York minute. For Denton Hodges in New York Dolls, it changes the course of her life.