Sometimes sugar isn’t so sweet and secrets can be deadly . . . especially with matters of the heart.
Sienna’s bestie, Harper warned her not to intern for famous bad boy artist, Casper Mason. After all, he just fired Harper who helped Sienna get the interview. But the moment Sienna sees Casper—or Caz—sweaty, practically shirtless and swinging from chains as he works on his sculpture, she’s hooked. He’s the richest, hottest artist in New York, and he lives in the fabulous Williamsburg Sugar Factory. But he’s also an incorrigible game-player, who seems to relish testing Sienna’s loyalty with a string of unsettling tests.
She knows she should get away fast. But by the time Sienna sneaks into his locked storage room and begins to unearth his dark and terrifying secret, she’s fallen way too hard for the handsome, charismatic Caz.
"Beautiful. Amazing. A fantastic read that left me wanting more." -XoXo Book Blog
"A juicy read full of passion and magnetic chemistry that will have you hooked from beginning to end." -From the Purple Matter Book Blog
Private Internship is all about artists who live, love and work in New York City (and Brooklyn). I know this scene intimately because before I turned to writing novels as my main passion, I showed my paintings in galleries for years. In book two, Sienna lands a high-level internship with a rich, famous, and very bad-boy sculptor, Casper Mason. I set the novel in a real sugar factory that I lived near in Brooklyn. The place fascinated me. Caz creates installations there, using the piles of leftover sugar.
Factories make great settings, including for romance novels
I’m a factory geek. Yup. I’ve been obsessed with spooky, spidery warehouses ever since I lived in a defunct shoe factory in Boston while I was in art school. It was a mecca for creative souls, and we formed a funky-utopian tribe with a dance bar in the basement and a veggie garden on the roof. The place still had barrels of shoe soles in the halls and mildewed promo flyers in the basement from 1920, announcing they’d utilized the latest trend in production line speed: workers flying around on roller-skates! My very first novel was set there.
One afternoon, I took my notebook over and interviewed the night watchman. My senses infused with the distinct burnt sugar scent, and the sight of its walls covered in a skim of blackened sugar. He told me stories of workers falling into vats and boiling alive, tales of hearing their subsequent ghostly sounds as their spirits floated around at odd hours.
I was hooked! I wrote an outline with the intention of penning a freaky urban fantasy. Then, in a stroke of bad luck, my notes were lost when I went out drinking with friends and left them in a bar. No doubt, some fool thief got a handful of strange scratchings. Yet, the setting stayed embedded in my mind and in 2013 I finally thought up the perfect plotline for the fictional sugar factory.
In Private Internship artist Sienna Karr lands an interview for a high-level internship with bad-boy sculptor Casper Mason, or Caz. Guess where he lives and works? In the Domino Sugar Factory, which I renamed the Schneitryn Sugar Factory (You have to read the novel to learn why) “Sugar, no shit!” as the newly hired Sienna remarks. Rich, famous Caz has bought the entire factory, and uses the hundreds of existing sugar bags for his sculptures. [see the description - n.MB]
The story continues. Little did I know that in 2014 the Domino Sugar Factory would be a fixture in the news; that the neighborhood landmarks committee would be in an uproar about its demise and redevelopment, and that sculptress Kara Walker would set up her sugar sphinx mama in that doomed place. Yes, reality is as strange as fiction. Kara explains through her little sugar slave boys who are literally melting—an arm dropping off here, a nose there, that the sugar trade was a very nasty business, fueled by oppressed slaves hauled in from Africa to the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Coincidentally, in Private Internship the sculptor, Caz quotes from Voltaire’s Candide. A horrified Candide comes across a slave boy in what is now Guyana who has lost an arm and leg. The boy explains: “When we work in the sugar mills and get a finger caught in the machinery, they cut off the hand; but if we try to run away, they cut off a leg … it is the price we pay for the sugar you eat in Europe.”
Caz is no fool; he’s aware of the dark side of his spun-sugar art medium. Ironically, as he tears three sugar packets and pours one after the other into his gourmet blend coffee, he says to Sienna in all seriousness, “Sugar, it’s delicious yet deadly, sweet yet bitter to the arteries. It’s no good for anyone.”
Sugar might not be a sunny trade, but the infamous factory is good for a sweet game of tag. In Sienna’s words: “In two of the corners Caz has deposited huge piles of sugar packets—ones tediously counted by spurned interns?
My attention is drawn to the larger of the piles. Its packets are shifting ever so slightly. Ah! The jig’s up; Caz is hiding under it. Sugary mosh pit here I come! I tiptoe forward, ever so slowly and pounce, landing with a shockingly loud crunch. Burrowing down into the packets, my hand hits a leathery cowboy boot. I grip onto the top lip for all its worth. “Tag!” I shriek. “Gotcha.”
Caz explodes upward, like a giant cake surprise, his hair all at wild angles. Grabbing me by the waist he pulls me down. We wrestle like kids, sending packets flying in all directions. He’s stronger than me, so it’s not long before his corded arms circle around me and pin me there, some big kid winning one over on his little brother or sister.
But Caz is not like a big brother, not at all. Not sure what we are now, as he gazes at me with his deep brown eyes, animated, sparkly and questioning, wide, as if he’s seeing me clearly for the very first time. “You’re fun,” he whispers, his sculptural, perfect mouth so near mine.”
It’s also great for blustery roof walks, mounting large-scale sculpture, and for a terrifying turn of events, when, in a storm of Sandy-esque proportions, the power and lights blow out and Sienna finds herself utterly lost in an unheated wing of the inky-dark behemoth.
“I remember fumbling and falling. Unsteadily, I stand and graze my palms along the tapered sides. No corners. I’m stuck in one of Caz’s sugar cauldrons! Except this one is massive. Reaching up, it dawns on me that the rim of this stinking vat is way beyond my reach—even ten feet tall. The fact that I can’t see a thing makes it all the scarier.” You see? It’s even the perfect setting for a horrible accident. Will Sienna escape the cauldron? Will they get to play another game of tag?
What kinds of quirky settings inspire you to write?
Kitsy loves to travel, draw, read romance, speculative fiction and teach writing workshops. She also writes YA as Catherine Stine. Her futuristic thriller, Ruby's Fire was a YA finalist in the Next Generation Indie book awards. Fireseed One, its companion novel, was a finalist in YA and Sci-Fi in the USA News International Book Awards, and an Indie Reader notable. Her YA horror, Dorianna, launches fall 2014 with Evernight Teen. She's a member of SFWA, RWA and SCBWI.