The winners of the two ebook copies of Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor Blakemore is CW and Ann. Congratulations!
Good morning and happy Saturday! I have an especially nice treat for y’all today! Author Kim Taylor Blakemore is with us today to talk about her award winning novel Bowery Girl. And, because Kim kicks all kinds of ass, SHE’S GIVING AWAY TWO EBOOK COPIES OF BOWERY GIRL. To enter the drawing, leave a comment below. I’ll draw the winners and make the announcements this upcoming Friday, February 27. Good luck! A Bowery Girl in the Gilded Age by Kim Taylor Blakemore It was an age of rapacious greed and corruption, fueled by the machinations of Boss Tweed and the imaginations of figures such as Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was an age of tremendous technological wonder: the illumination of streets and homes by arc lamp and electricity (for those who could afford it), the manufacture of steel and the dawn of the skyscraper, Pullman cars and steam engines, ready-made clothes, the phonograph and telephone, and the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the stultifying air of Edith Wharton’s upper classes, the dank air of windowless tenements of the Bowery, and the mass of immigrants who swarmed through Castle Garden in the Battery looking for a better life. It was the end of agrarian culture and the beginning of the industrial age. New York City was the maelstrom that held it all. Here were the stately homes lining the newly designed Central Park. Here was the Lower Eastside, lined with saloons, riddled with cholera and inhabited by Irish and Italian street gangs. One would need a heart of steel to walk the narrow streets on the Fourth Ward, no matter the time be day or night. It is here that children play not two feet from a horse dead of exhaustion. And it is here, in the Fourth Ward in the Lower Eastside in the months before the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, that I set my novel Bowery Girl. I love history. I believe I have an obligation to remember the past, to share it with modern readers, to keep the pulse and beat of it alive. To not forget who came before us and what stories and wisdom they can impart. In particular, I wish to shine a light on women who have walked and lived and loved in past times. The idea for Bowery Girl, which I am happy to say has been re-released, came from a single, seminal book: How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis. Riis was a “yellow journalist”, working for a paper that would be much maligned today. His office sat above the most dangerous part of the Fourth Ward above Mulberry Bend, and through his window, he watched people. He bought a camera (a most complicated technology then; when he shot at night, the bulbs held on a wooden platform by an assistant hissed and spit, and were responsible for once burning out a tenement room). He took pictures of the inhabitants of the Lower Eastside, and wrote a book about their lives: the poor and forgotten, the “huddled masses”. Then he took his show on the road, going from city to town to shine the images on buildings, to lecture and inform about the underside of the grand Gilded Age. And I thought: how would a woman live in that world? A woman thrown from orphanage to orphanage and then to the streets. Women and girls had very little opportunity at the time – nothing but their wits to survive. I imagined this girl – Mollie Flynn – living in one of the cellars that ran under the buildings along the East River. A place where the water seeped in the stone walls and sound moved in circles. Her morals were questionable, her hands lithe, her belly empty. A pickpocket she would become. She “could have been anywhere between thirteen and twenty. She didn’t know her own age, so she had decided on sixteen.” And that’s where we find her, striding along the streets of the Fourth Ward on her way to the Tombs to pick up Annabelle Lee, recently released from Blackwell’s Island for being incredibly saucy and a prostitute, to boot. I hope you join the girls and wander the Fourth Ward with them. It’s not a pretty place. But it’s full of life and desperation and small moments of joy. Available in Print and eBook: Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes and Noble And me… My mission is to write historical fiction and romance that explore women’s lives and bring their struggles and triumphs out of the shadows of history and onto the canvas of our American past. I wish to share the stories of women whose lives are untold, who don’t exist in textbooks: the disenfranchised, the forgotten, those with double lives and huge hearts filled with weakness and courage. My current novel, Under the Pale Moon, is due for release in Fall 2015. Set in post-World War II Monterey, California, it explores the relationship of a married woman breaking the bonds of conformity, and a combat nurse haunted by the ghosts of war. www.kimtaylorblakemore.com And Jacob Riis… http://collections.mcny.org/Explore/Highlights/Jacob%20A.%20Riis/ ps…I was fortunate enough to be allowed in the archives in the Museum of the City of New York to see the original glass plates of his photographs. They are SMALL – 1” by 2” or so. And if you haven’t gone to the Tenement Museum, it’s well worth it… http://www.tenement.org/