Writing speculative and fantastic fiction as I do, I don’t get to actually visit the places I write about much, so I really enjoy it when I can. And when I do visit, I seldom examine things minutely, what I’m after, if it doesn’t sound too artsy-fartsy, is a more a vibe, an impression. If I can get it, a chance to just absorb the atmosphere and the over all look and feel of a place and its people can lend a great deal to a book. But you have to be careful. If you try to become photo-realistic in your writing, the details can bog down the narrative.
This was what I planned to do on a recent trip to New York City. I was there to do Research in the City where I had set my latest project; the Vampire Chef books. By research I meant to kind of mooch around Greenwich village, play the tourist, and eat.
Have I mentioned how much I love my job?
The first part of the whole adventure involved my first real commute on the NYC subway. I’ve done subway commutes before. I lived and worked in London for a summer in college. I was headed from Forest Hills to Union Square and it was a straight shot. As a bonus, I only had to stand for a couple stations before I got a seat.
So, I sat down and pulled out my new eReader so I could work on a manuscript I was copy-editing. And before I know it, this young Asian girl plops down next to me; “What IS that?” I tell her. “That is SO cool!” I show her some features. Her adult keeps saying “thank you, now…” to break off the conversation with the complete stranger on the subway. But I felt validated. If an NYC kid says your toy is cool, it MUST be totally cool.
I got off at 14th St. And here is where the iPhone completely came into its own. I entered the address of the cafe where I was supposed to meet Editor #1 for breakfast, and got the walking directions. Only made one wrong turn too.
Breakfast was at Cafe Cluny. Set on a very nice, old-school Greenwich Village street, it had an artsy atmosphere without being too-too if you know what I mean. The large wooden bug on the ceiling was slightly disconcerting but the antique mirrors were great. I will say the chairs were not terribly comfortable for someone of queenly proportions, but not to bad. The serivce was good. The coffee was excellent and the juice was indeed fresh, as advertised. I had the Dutch Breakfast, opting for something simple as it was going to be a big food day; ham, rye toast, preserves and an aged gouda cheese. The stars of the dish were definitely the preserves which were rich and flavorful, and the cheese. Oh, MAN that was good cheese, salty and nutty and just plain yummy. The ham was…nondescript, but that was okay with me, because I was still grooving on that cheese.
The conversation with Editor #1 went well and I think she’s going to be fantastic to work with. Left the resteraunt, entered Union Square into the iPhone and got the next set of directions, and strolled down the street.
I’d never been in this secetion of New York City before. When I’ve been, I’ve mostly been in the canyons of Manhattan. This is a lower, quietrer section (quieter by NYC standards) that feels older somehow to me, although I know that’s not accurate. Perhaps its because of all the stone and brick apartment buildings, that seem to fit together more easily than the dramatic ups and downs around Times Square; and that it’s clearly a _neighborhood_. I am also prepared to say that approximately 85% of New Yorkers own one or more small dogs.
So, got over to Union Square, which is what it sounds like; a park (I’d consider it a small park), in the middle of the Village, with a lot of trend around it, including the Really Big Barnes & Noble. I was there to see the Green Market.
Up Next: The Green Market vs. The Chelsea Market