I decided to post the first chapter of the First Novel. The title, To The Skies, didn’t really feel like a good fit at first, but it has grown on me. It comes from when I was a little boy and my father would ask me, “How much do you love your Daddy?” I would reply, “Way up to the sky!” So the title has some personal meaning, but may not be all that great of a title for the First Novel. Got to start with something, I suppose.
The chapter introduces the two protagonists, Emily and Alistair (although I think the version I just posted uses an older spelling that I’ve since changed). They’re going on a trip from New York to California in the astoundingly short time span of just 48 hours. This, and a few other clues, serve to establish the time frame of the story. Astute New Yorkers may observe that the Waldorf Astoria is not on 34th Street. The original hotel certainly was, however, the first part of which went up when William Waldorf Astor replaced his father’s mansion with a hotel he called the Waldorf. It was built right next door to his aunt’s house, with whom he did not have the most polite familial relations. This did not sit well with her. When William’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV (who famously perished on the Titanic), persuaded his mother to move, he then built the Astoria hotel right next to the Waldorf. They soon became one and the combined name became the symbol of opulence in New York during the Gilded Age.
At the time of our story, however, the old hotel is being demolished to make way for a “modern” structure. Emily, of course, has no idea what the structure will be, so neither do we. Once again the astute New Yorkers will recognize the location and the famous landmark skyscraper which now occupies the site: The Empire State Building.
This one brief scene highlights a theme which recurs throughout the story. The last gasps of the Gilded Age and the furious indulgences of the post-war Roaring Twenties are about to become history as the nation plunges into the Great Depression. We’re poised on the cliff. The readers will see it coming; the characters do not.