Hi, everyone. I’m at it again. Getting ready to release another novel, probably late this year. I’m a little nervous because it’s a genre I’ve never published in before—in the thriller family, a near-future dystopia. I’ll share more about it as we get closer, but I want to start with where some of the scenes are set. One in particular.
Whenever possible, I like to set the scenes of my stories in geographical locales where I’ve lived or visited. It makes me feel like I can write from a stronger place if I’ve walked the streets, breathed the air, absorbed the energy—which is not so easy to do when your book is set thirty years in the future and during a war. I can leave some location details generic, but where I can, I really want to show the world that the characters inhabit.
Most of The Kitchen Brigade takes place in New York’s Hudson Valley. A key scene occurs at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. (Yes, Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park.) I live about forty minutes away, and I’ve been to what the locals call “The Culinary” several times. Usually, those trips have involved parking in the main lot, walking to one of their many wonderful restaurants, then going home…maybe after a stop at the bookstore. But I’ve never prowled the campus, walked the halls the way a student or a faculty member might. And that’s what I needed to do.
So last week, I got myself and my camera over to the CIA to do a little scouting. It was fun, and the employees and students were so helpful. I’m glad made the trip, because in my rediscovery, I found that I had a few important details wrong.
I remembered that the main building, Roth Hall, houses most of the kitchens, so that’s what I’d focused on when I wrote the early drafts of the manuscript. I had a vague recollection of a giant atrium in the center of the building, from which rose a huge, open staircase and a big balcony overlooking said space.
Not so much.
Here’s my “giant atrium”:
Here’s my “balcony”:
The building is beautiful, but I don’t know how I got the details so wrong! Fortunately, I didn’t need to completely tear the scene apart. It’s a historical building, so I didn’t expect that it would look appreciably different thirty years from now, but I presumed it might have upgraded kitchens and security features. Or at least it was convenient for me to add them.
Before I go, I wanted to show you one of my favorite spaces. I can just imagine sitting out on this courtyard with a cocktail while I’m waiting for my reservation.
Or, maybe I’ll just wander around the halls.
Table for two?
Thank you for reading.