By Author Colleen Green
Amber Milestone is the main character in my book. She moves to New York City. Like her, I had never been there and I am used to suburban living. It was an opportunity to travel and do research for my book.
My boyfriend and I booked an apartment in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown, Manhattan. It was a fifth story walk-up. This means no elevator. Each time you went up the stairs it was about ten to fifteen steps to the next story. The kind of place my character would live with a roommate. It tests your endurance to make the trip back and forth up and down the stairs more than once a day. Even though I am in good shape, I couldn’t help but utter the words, “What did I do to Amber?” I decided to make it slightly easier on her by having her live on the third floor not the fifth!
The noise levels of 9th Avenue were louder than my home. The traffic, sirens, horns, and cars outside our bedroom window could be heard despite fan and nature sounds on my Kindle. I quickly learned earplugs helped.
We used the subway system and walked a lot. We figured out the apps on my smartphone to find the nearest train. All the while amazed at the number of people, the height of the sky scrapers, and the diversity of the people.
The Jewish deli we ate at was superb. I tasted cured meat that I had never had before and coleslaw that was unique and delicious. We had pickles prepared unlike the grocery store ones we buy at home. Local dialogue I noticed: “How you doing?” the server asked us. Think of all the different ways people say hello. Some say hey, hi or what’s up to greet someone. It is important to notice these differences.
We took in some Broadway shows. Chicago and Cats both were performed extremely well. One of the people a few seats over kept whispering during the show. New Yorkers weren’t afraid to tell them to be quiet or shut up! They are bold about their opinions. Most people from Ohio wouldn’t be quite so vocal. Not to say one way is right or wrong. Yes, I am making somewhat of a general statement when I do notice certain things, which is fine. I will let each of my characters determine what they do depending on personality not just where they are from or living. It never hurts to take into account where they live and how that may influence their actions or general demeanor. Of course, there will be exceptions to the majority. It is something to be aware of as a writer, not a rule but a guideline.
Restaurant seating was tight. Tables close to one another filled the space. A substantial staff were at most places to keep up with the customers. Quick service for food. You can find a wide variety of cuisine such as American, Jewish, Italian and more.
Small convenience stores, called bodegas, are numerous. Some would deliver food 24 hrs a day. Cyclists’ who deliver food use the bicycle lanes. They jet in and out of traffic sometimes not staying in their lane.
Restroom facilities in a big city are different than in the suburbs. For example, restaurant bathrooms for females had just one toilet, unlike suburban ones with many stalls. Since there was only one toilet, there were lines to wait for the bathroom. Pharmacies in the city do not have public bathrooms. Probably to discourage the homeless from using them frequently. Suburban drug stores do have public restrooms.
We saw the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial. My heart goes out to those who were so deeply affected by the 9/11 tradegy. Below is the One World Trade Center.
We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. It takes some time to get to the beginning of it from the sidewalks. The part where you walk on is above the traffic. It was fairly busy. There is a bicycle lane. When you hear a bell, it is probably a cyclist trying to pass you by if you get too close to their lane. Wonderful views of Manhattan can be seen from there.
After my trip was over, I was thrilled that I went. I gained valuable knowledge, sights, sounds and tastes that I can bring to my next novel. I hope to go back someday. Meanwhile, I will continue writing my second novel. It will be dedicated to the people of New York City!
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