The Passed Note Issue 4 June 2017 - Page 13

bumps in all the places I want there to be goosebumps. There is some sense in which, after the book is out there, no longer being formed, but existing as a coherent thing on its own terms, I come at it each time as a total stranger.

SRJ: Why is the story set in Manhattan? It’s so lovely that there's a magical school in the middle of New York City.

CD: I set it in Manhattan because that’s where I was living at the time. I lived in New York City for ten years, six of them in “the city” and four in Brooklyn. There was a time, early in the plotting of the book, when I imagined that the story would take the gang through various real landmarks, like Grant’s Tomb and the Brooklyn Bridge, tying them into the mythos of the Guardians and the heart of the mystery at the center of the story. I recall with some chagrin, walking along the top of Riverside Park with my wife, and saying something along the lines of “I just want the city to be like a character in the book.” A couple of years later, maybe even while I was writing the story, The Onion had an article mocking an aspiring novelist for precisely that cliché. By that point, the conceit of the novel had changed, and New York City was just the place where these people happened to live. I still have the chagrin.