Sometimes I go to the Hungarian Pastry Shop to write. It’s where I’m writing now. I’ve been coming here since I first arrived in New York and lived at the Deanery on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (long story) right across the street.
Yesterday I was here working on a picture book text, which I had owed to my gifted and clear-eyed editor, Lee Wade, for some time. I am proud to say I finished a first draft. Now Lee will tear it apart, at least I hope she will.
I was a little distracted – but not too much – by a fortyish, shaven-headed man at the next table who was pitching a business idea to a younger friend? intern? B-schoolmate? It was only when the pitcher described the business as “a reservoir of stories that you can go to any time” that of course my ears pricked up. Like the pitchee, I didn’t really cotton to what this business was. People wrote stories, posted them, and then other people could buy them as a plot for their own work? At least that’s what I think it was. Who would do such a thing I can’t imagine. (It would put Hollywood out of business.) But he was convinced, if not convincing.
It made me think of the Gold Rush and the last last frontier we had: the Wild West. I’ve been thinking about the Wild West because I’m the lucky co-agent of Caroline Lawrence’s Western Mysteries, the first book of which, The Case of the Deadly Desperados, is coming out in Spring of next year. If you think of the series as Deadwood meets Mark Twain by way of Richard Peck, you’ll have the right idea. It’s funny, original, unsparing, and it has the most original hero you’re going to meet anywhere in books next year. I love it.
For a while we thought that space was the next (and final) frontier. But virtual space is our own Gold Rush, and its power and allure are as palpable as they were in 1849, even if the coffee and beans have been changed to espressos and ischlers.