In April 2017, I took a VERY long flight from Brisbane, Australia over to New York (hello, jet-lag!) on a special bookish holiday with one of my lovely sisters, Kel, (we missed you Jas!) and my brother Clay. Kel was lucky enough to win a competition to NY for two, and I was the very excited tag-along that got to go. Clay joined us in downtown Manhatten after a couple of days, and the three of us spent a week playing tourist and cramming as much as we could into each day and night.
One of my goals while traveling was to get a great feel of New York to further inspire the serialised novel ‘Avon Calling! that you’ve been reading, especially in those places that encompass the tone and times of the 1940’s. I’m talking the Jazz Scene, WW2 historical buildings and just general street stuff. We visited Central Park (I have SO many squirrel photos… we don’t have any squirrels in Oz, so it was such a novelty to see the cute little things!), we walked the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn for days, cabbed around Harlem and Queens, ferried past lady liberty, trekked the Brooklyn Bridge (my favourite) and visited as many attractions as I could squeeze into a 9 day trip. It was AMAZING!
It’s sometimes very difficult as a writer, spending great swathes of time in your head imagining what it is like in another country, especially if you have a time-shift and change of culture to account for as well. Google can only take you so far. But spending time in Betty’s hometown gave me a huge spark of inspiration and a grounded understanding of how her life may have played out in the streets. I absolutely want to go back there.
“The devil’s in the details”, as they say, and we all know Betty’s story is a little bit evil. So when I’m bringing her to life, it’s all about the details. I love the authenticity you can bring into a story, by weaving in the sights, sounds and even smells of a place. Since the visit, I’ve made a mental visit of the places Betty (ahem, I mean I,) need to go back to revisit or see for the first time, if I didn’t get the chance. Plenty of places I visited have already influenced the locations of ‘Avon Calling’. Chasing Betty through New York, we stumbled across the best cafe in Little Italy (the patisserie counter was like a pastry-lovers dream). Don’t be surprised if it turns up in an episode very soon…
All in all, I really got in the groove for more of Betty Jones, so everybody’s favourite vigilante Avon Lady will be stalking the city streets for a long time yet! Over the coming weeks, I’ll write a little more about special places we visited that have made their way into Avon Calling! since then, and why.
If you haven’t had a chance to slip on your two-tone wingtips and tap along to Betty as she slices through the mob with her garter belt of kitchen knives, then NOW is your perfect opportunity! Let me know what you think and don’t forget to leave a review for other readers on Amazon so they can find Betty too! See if you can pick out some of the iconic New York sights that pose as a background for Betty’s daily life.
What’s your favourite place in New York? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list for my next visit!