Writers always put bits and pieces of themselves into their characters. Willie, the protagonist of “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” is not me. But we do have a few things in common. One is a philosophical approach to living in New York City. As Willie wanders around neighborhoods off her beaten track, it’s very easy for her to imagine she’s far away from the streets she knows — and not just a few blocks away from familiar turf.
I love to walk and will sometimes take a less familiar route, or go a few blocks out of my way, simply to experience “new” streets. Since I started this blog, I’ve been taking advantage of opportunities to go out-of-my usual haunts, simply to look up and check buildings for gargoyles. Having found some great ones within two blogs of my home near Union Square and some surprises on very familiar streets in SoHo, I was looking forward to checking out the famous gargoyles of St. John the Divine when I had an appointment near 112th and Amsterdam Avenue.
Of course I’ve been there before — it’s the largest Cathedral in the world and my mother grew up a few blocks away — so that’s a given, but hunting for gargoyles changes the experience. It was fabulous, and because it was dusk by the time I got there, I promised myself a return trip later this fall.
Writers mine their own lives, their own experiences and their own environments, but unless you’re a reporter (or you live an extraordinarily fantastic life) the source material needs to be transformed into something fantastic, romantic, mysterious or otherwise worthy of fiction. Stories don’t drop out of trees. Or do they? Maybe they jump down from the top of pillars and reveal themselves, speaking the language of gargoyles?
The stone MONSTERS lurking and leering down at me were truly amazing. They also reminded me just how important it is to keep an eye out for Monsters wherever I go.