Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

…a fantastical ode to New York... Holly's Hurricane by Marie Carter

"Holly’s Hurricane, smartly set in the near future after a category 4 hurricane hits New York, will appeal to futurists and history buffs. An absorbing romantic novel that will make you think in new ways about the past, present and future of our most vulnerable cities as humankind battles climate change."—Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Stowaway


Release Date: November 1st, 2018
Cover Artist: Marie Carter

 …a fantastical ode to New York City’s glorious and horrifying past, as well as a warning to us all for its future.

In the year 2040, Hurricane Diana descends on New York City. Holly Williams, an architect and immigrant from England flees to her home country, staying with her ailing stepdad in Boston, England. Her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is living in a nursing home nearby. 

Holly's purpose in life, it seems, has been to design factories and offices for robotics companies while overseeing the demolition of historic New York buildings. 

While seeking refuge from the hurricane that has destroyed New York City to the point that is barely recognizable, Holly begins to have strange hallucinations in which a mysterious stranger guides her through some of the city’s forgotten and dramatic past.

Hurricane Sandy and Holly’s Hurricane 

On October 29, 2018, six years after the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy hit the streets of New York City, I want to tell the origin story of my novel, Holly’s Hurricane. 

On October 27, 2012 Hurricane Sandy, which had been weakened to a tropical storm, re-strengthened to a Category 1 storm. It then took a “left hook” moving ashore to New Jersey as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds. The storm surge hit New York City on October 29, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines, and cutting power in and around the city. 

At the time, I was living with a roommate in leafy Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Our apartment was not in an evacuation zone. The year prior, Hurricane Irene had threatened to do unprecedented damage to New York City. New Yorkers had formed long lines in supermarkets and delis, stocking up on food, putting tape on their windows, and filling their bathtubs with water, waiting with baited breath. At the end of the day, though, most of us experienced little more than light wind and rain, so the next year when the news reports excitedly chattered about the potential threat of Sandy, most of us were only half-listening. 

My roommate went to stay with her boyfriend at the time and I stayed home with my cats and her dog, dutifully filling up the bathtub with water, and stocking up on food. I was sad that a Halloween-themed walking tour I was supposed to go on that Sunday was canceled. 

On Monday, October 29, when most businesses had closed their doors, I stayed home reading and listening to a historical podcast I had just discovered, The Bowery Boys. Just five months earlier, one of the companies I was working for part-time had moved into the Woolworth Building. I was delighted when my boss told me. I had long admired the Woolworth Building, which looked like a wedding cake. However, besides knowing its nickname, “The Cathedral of Commerce,” I knew nothing else about it. As someone who has enjoyed stories of New York City’s history I wanted to learn more about the history of the Woolworth, but I also didn’t want to read one of those wordy academic books that I assumes I am a lot smarter than I actually am. As I surfed the internet on the hunt for more information, I came across a podcast about the Woolworth Building by The Bowery Boys. What’s a podcast? I remembered thinking at the time. 
"Be prepared to travel through dimensions in time and space in Holly’s Hurricane. This is the kind of novel that haunts you, and you’ll find yourself thinking about it for days to come. You’ll become Holly, a brilliant architect, walking through the ruins of New York City in 2040 after a hurricane has devastated the city. Gorgeously written and incredibly wise, it’s a page-turner that will leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering if you’ve just looked through the window of our very vulnerable future. But as Marie Carter asks, 'How could something so pretty and intricate emerge from some devastation?' Carter shows us that all is not lost, as she carves the beauty out of the destruction."—Liz Scheid, author of The Shape of Blue 

After listening to my first Bowery Boys podcast I was hooked. These “boys” made history hilarious, fun, interesting, and accessible. In addition, they had an annual Halloween podcast, which I immediately came to adore. Greg Young and Tom Meyers are single-handedly responsible for turning me into a history buff and tour guide. And they’re also responsible for turning the wheels in my head that ultimately led to the creation of Holly’s Hurricane. 

Of course, as we now know, Hurricane Sandy turned out to be a catastrophe for New York. I was home alone at night with the cats as my windows rattled to the point I thought they would shatter. At one point I heard an explosion. I kept refreshing my Facebook page to find out what people were experiencing. There had been an explosion at a Con Edison power plant in the East Village. The lights in Manhattan had turned off. People were running away from their homes due to flooding. 

Ten minutes after reading this, my internet stopped working. It was 10:30 pm and I decided to try and sleep. I turned the lights off, praying they would turn back on in the morning. The sound of the wind tugging at my windows was keeping me awake and fretful, though. My boy cat Bosco, who could sometimes be a sensitive soul, pressed up against the side of my left ear and settled in, purring loudly. I covered my right ear with my right elbow, and finally I was able to sleep. 

The next morning, a Tuesday, I turned on my lights apprehensively. I was relieved to find everything was working and so was my internet. I called and emailed my various work places, all of which were based in Manhattan. Lower Manhattan was down, including the Woolworth Building. Most of the subways were not functioning. I could see footage on the internet of water pouring into various subway stations. Traffic lights in Manhattan were not working. Extra buses were transporting people around Manhattan in areas where traffic lights were still working, but huge crowds were waiting for these buses and they were limited in terms of where they could go. Fortunately, my various work places told me not to come in for the week. 

I decided to get out of the apartment and see with my own eyes what was going on. In the surrounding areas of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Brooklyn Heights, people were behaving as though it were a fun day off. Even though it was overcast, people were out brunching in fancy restaurants while I walked my roommate’s dog, who ironically was called Sandy. One woman took a step back from us and gasped when she asked for the cute dog’s name. “She was named that before the hurricane,” I said, in Sandy’s defense. 

I was curious about Manhattan, which was apparently experiencing power outages and flooding mostly in Lower Manhattan. I had bought a bike the year before and that turned out to be a godsend. A friend posted on Facebook that her elderly friend was in hospital with no one to visit her, so on a couple of days I took my bike out to Manhattan to visit. 
"Here is New York City as we have never seen it, devastated by Hurricane Diana in 2040. Here too is our long overdue romantic heroine, Holly Williams, a sixty-year-old architect and immigrant struggling with ailing parents, unruly robotic aides, and an unexpected love interest twelve years her junior. Guided by a Virgil-like figure, Holly begins to realize at last her professional and personal potential as she embarks on a mission to preserve what's left of her adopted city. Prepare to be swept away by the sheer force of Holly's Hurricane—a fantastical ode to New York City's glorious and horrifying past, as well as a warning to us all for its future."—Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart
I heard appeals for blood donation, so I visited a blood donation bank, except I’m still not allowed to donate because I grew up in the UK and might have mad cow disease according to the regulations—a bit of an irony considering I’ve been vegetarian since I was ten. 

I visited and volunteered my yoga teacher’s studio in midtown, Manhattan where she was offering a place to get Wi-Fi, power, and hot tea. 

I went to a local community farm in Red Hook where they needed help fixing and cleaning up after the storm damage. 

On the weekend, I volunteered for FEMA who announced they were arriving in Red Hook where lower income and impoverished residents were experiencing food and water shortages. For some reason, FEMA showed up with dry food, but no water. On my walk over from Carroll Gardens, I had noticed a supermarket selling water bottles by the caseload. I volunteered to pay for as many water bottles as people could carry. After exhausting volunteers, on another run back to the supermarket I heard some deep voices behind me state, “We’ve coming, too.” I looked behind me. I was being followed by three burly soldiers working for FEMA. They wanted to help me carry the bottles of water. I felt like the Mayor of Red Hook being escorted around the supermarket by them. 

And, in the evening, after biking around City, volunteering and helping whenever I could, I was listening to the news and The Bowery Boys. According to the news, climate change scientists were telling New Yorkers we needed to become used to these kinds of disasters. How were going to prepare? At the same time I was listening to The Bowery Boys talk about New York City and I was beginning to understand that New York had lived through other multiple disasters and that for various reasons, our collective sense of New York City’s history had faded. Why was that? 

I teach memoir for Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Memoir comes from the French word “memory” and memory can be a slippery thing. Each person has their own memory of events and therefore their own personal sense of truth. Imagine how that works when recording collective memories. 

More than that, my grandmother had been diagnosed several years before with Alzheimer’s. I was sad to watch the deterioration of her memory. 

One last thing to mention: my mum and stepdad had moved to the town of Boston, Lincolnshire just a year and a half before all these events merged together. Their town was the second biggest port in England in the thirteenth-century. Now it’s mostly farmland with a population of mostly retired people. It is also the original Boston, home of the Pilgrims, and the town even has the original jail cells where the Pilgrims were kept. I loved that sense of connection to colonial history and I decided to set most of the scenes in England in that town. 

All of these elements converged together to form the idea of Holly’s Hurricane. With the threat of damaged to be caused by climate change I began wondering how New York might look in the future. What would that do to our sense of the past? What could we learn from the past to use in the future? How is our society shaped by our ability to remember and at the same time, our ability to forget? These are just a few themes that fascinated me in the beginning of writing Holly’s Hurricane and that helped shape the novel over the next six years. Remembering the ominous beginnings of this novel, reminds me of the most important theme of the novel, that beauty can carved out of destruction, and that no matter what, life finds a way of coming back.

About the author:
MARIE CARTER is a Scottish writer, editor, writing teacher, and tour guide, based in Astoria, NY.
Her first book, The Trapeze Diaries, based on her experiences of learning trapeze, was published by Hanging Loose Press. Her novel Holly's Hurricane will be published in November 2018.

Marie has been a guest on NPR, and has been featured in The New York Times, Queens Gazette, Huffington Post, QNS, and many other media outlets.

Her work has been published in Hanging Loose, The Brooklyn Rail, Spectacle, Turntablebluelight, and Yogacitynyc, among others and in the anthologies The Best Creative Nonfiction (W. W. Norton, 2007) and Voices of Multiple Sclerosis (LaChance, 2009). She has also been awarded and attended a residency at the MacDowell Colony. 

Marie currently teaches Memoir and Creative Writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop. 

Fascinated by New York City's macabre and little-known histories in her writing and life, she decided to further her interest by becoming a licensed tour guide with Boroughs of the Dead. She created and guides the "Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria" tour and also leads other tours in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, and Roosevelt Island. She also lectures on various aspects of New York City's history on a regular basis at Q.E.D. in Astoria, Queens.

Marie has provided editorial and layout and design services to Hanging Loose Press, one of the oldest independent publishers in the United States. She is the editor of Word Jig: New Fiction from Scotland (Hanging Loose, 2003) and co-editor of Voices of the City (Hanging Loose Press, 2004). 

Marie graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA in English Literature. 

Website ** Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Instagram
Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

CCAM said...

Sounds like a book that should be read; thank you