Monday, August 19, 2019

The Journey to Writing My Novel 'Dreamland'

Today, August 19th, is the day I unveil the cover of my next novel, 'Dreamland.' I think you'll agree with me that my publisher, Endeavour Quill, has done a fantastic job of cover design:

Here's the story: New York City, 1911: A rebellious young heiress spending the summer in a luxury hotel a mile from Coney Island falls in love with an immigrant artist in the forbidden Dreamland and leaves her Gilded Age world to find the person responsible for a series of murders.
A friend who works on a website blog for new writers recently asked me to contribute a story giving tips on historical fiction. Such an assignment can make you stop and think. As I listed my five books, I realized that I've really jumped around in my time periods. My first three novels were set in Tudor England, then I leaped to mid-18th century Europe, and now it's on to early 20th century New York City.

The setting may change quite a bit, but the gestation of all my novels is the same: I have the thought "What would it be like if this happened?" and then: "I want to write that!" In the case of 'Dreamland,' it goes back to my news and magazine writing. The editor at the website The Vintage News asked me to write a story for the 4th of July in 2017 and my mind alighted on the hotdog-eating contest at Coney Island. In doing my research, I learned that the origin of the contest goes way, way back. I was planning to write a quick, light story, but the next thing I knew, I was deep down the rabbit hole, reading about a fascinating time period: Coney Island in its heyday, the turn of the century. I read about the three wild, ambitious, crazy parks within Coney Island: Steeplechase, Luna ... and Dreamland. People poured into these parks by the thousands, eager to see new things and also to lose their post-Victorian age inhibitions.

At about the same time, Town & Country magazine asked me to look into a story that involved the late Peggy Guggenheim. I started to read up on her, and I was struck by the sadness of the youth of this famous heiress. Her father died on the Titanic, she never felt as if she fit into the extended Guggenheim family, and when she was around 21, she took an unpaying job at a bohemian bookstore in Manhattan.

After learning that at one time there were beautiful luxurious hotels on the ocean in Brooklyn, just a mile from Coney Island, I had the thought, "What if an heiress like Peggy Guggenheim stayed at one of those hotels and wandered into a place like Dreamland?"

This was followed by the realization "I want to write that!" :)

Dreamland goes on sale in January 2020. There's no pre-order quite yet, but please go to the Goodreads page for the book here and mark "want-to-read." That would be very helpful!

thank you!