I am pleased to welcome Allie Therin on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate the release of Starcrossed, the second book in her Magic in Manhattan series. Please give her a warm welcome!
Although the Magic in Manhattan books are works of fiction, real history also runs through these stories. This series would not be possible without the hard work of historians and librarians to make the archives of the past available to the public.
– From the Author Note in Starcrossed
When I was invited to blog about Starcrossed, I wanted to seize the chance to geek out over research–and express my appreciation for the librarians, archivists, historians, and other record-keepers who make it possible to do this research. Here’s a (spoiler-free) shoutout for three archives I used while drafting a novel set in 1920s America.
I got the opportunity this summer to spend time at the stunning flagship NYPL located at 42nd and Fifth Avenue, where I saw the exhibits, bought a rad t-shirt, and took pictures of Patience and Fortitude. But the digital repository is also incredible, including nearly 900,000 digitized items. Here are some snippets that were inspired by items found in these collections:
Arthur picked up the menu. “What’s good here?”
“You’re having pigeon with jellied tomato cream and asparagus au gratin,” said John.
A lot of the food mentioned in Starcrossed is mixed and matched from real menus available in the NYPL’s collection of historic menus.
Arthur pulled up in front of the covered 33rd Street entrance to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on the corner of Fifth Avenue. The lofty stories stretched up into the sky, graceful arches around many of the windows and green turrets on the corners of the roof.
Rory startled as an older woman pushed past him and continued up the street. He glanced up, to the sign on the corner, and realized he’d hit Mulberry Street where it turned from Chinatown to Little Italy.
One way I tried to get a feel for Manhattan’s historic neighborhoods in the 1920s was through images like clam peddlers in the Italian quarters in Harlem (image 1) and Little Italy (image 2), and historical postcards of Chinatown.
Archive: The NYS Historic Newspapers Project
I looked up all kinds of things in old newspapers! I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I find most useful for research are the advertisements, which helped me understand the accessibility and pricing of things like candy, raccoon coats, flashlights, restaurants, and canned goods. I’ve already been back in this archive as I work on drafting Magic in Manhattan #3, Wonderstruck.
CW: Please be aware if researching that, like many texts from American history, old newspapers often contain racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, etc.
Archive: The Philadelphia City Archive
Starcrossed visits 1920s Philadelphia and I turned to this resource several times, an amazing repository of historical photos set on a searchable map. I won’t include any text so as not to give spoilers, but here are some images I referenced while writing:
Views of the wharfs and the Ben Franklin Bridge (examples: one, two, three), which turned out to still be under construction in 1925 and meant I had to find a historic roadmap (thank you, Library of Congress!).
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for coming along to geek out with me. And if you’re a librarian, please accept my thanks! 🙂
When everything they’ve built is threatened, only their bond remains…
New York, 1925
Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.
For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throws the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.
With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.
Allie Therin is a writer and avid reader of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. She also is, or has been, a bookseller, an attorney, a Parks & Rec assistant, a boom operator, and a barista for one (embarrassing) day. Allie grew up in a tiny Pacific Northwest town with more bears than people, although the bears sadly would not practice Spanish with her. Allie loves to hear from readers! Find all the ways to connect with her at her website, www.allietherin.com, or sign up for her “book news only” email list.
Genre: Historical Genre: Paranormal Genre: Romance Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Guest Post Tag: Magic Tag: Part of a series Allie Therin Magic in Manhattan series Starcrossed