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In the pause: Writing in the middle of Times Square

Emerson’s second book begins in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the night before her 14th birthday. On Wednesday, I walked a few blocks from my office on my lunch break and took a spin around the exact area where I imagine her to be. Like my own internal augmented reality, I could see her, the other characters, and the action of the scene unfolding in my mind, superimposed on the real-world setting where I stood. It was like having an out-of-body experience.

There is something powerful about writing in place, standing in the place where your imagination runs wild and getting it all down as best you can. I wrote the first draft of this opening scene in my apartment, 50 blocks north of Times Square. When I edit it, refine it, fill it with the juicy detail and vivid imagery that bring Emerson and her journey to life, I’m going to be there, in Times Square. You’ll find me on the top step of the red staircase in Duffy Square, just above the TKTS booth. I’ll be pounding away on my laptop in the cold night air because I want you to feel what Emerson feels. I want the sense of urgency and alarm she experiences on that night to be what you feel when you read those words. I’m blessed to live in the city where my stories are set, and that’s a privilege I’ll use to its full advantage.

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