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Both of my novels take place in New York and the city is more than a backdrop; it becomes a character in itself.  My love affair with NYC began as a kid, although I don’t remember exactly when.  Maybe it was when my father took us to Macy’s on Black Friday or when I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my mom.  The details are not as important as the feeling I got, marveling at all the people—a cornucopia of colors, ages and styles—so different from the mainstream community in my hometown.  Both Nora Deschamps in Uptown and Down and Mia Lewis in Lagging Indicators grew up in places that, though nice for kids, wouldn’t cut it for the adults they wanted to become.  This sentiment echoes my own and I guess that’s why I infused my characters with that same sense of longing.

Anything is possible in New York.  The city is filled with the energy and resources to suit every desire and ambition.  Recently, some have criticized the current state of affairs in New York, lamenting the loss of edginess and creativity in favor of wealth and gentrification.  I’ve also been guilty of those thoughts and can wax lyrical about the New York of my youth, a place where I would linger at vintage bookstores on the Upper West Side or sit at a Greenwich Village café with a pen and a notebook, struggling to look like a serious writer!  I’m old enough to remember when slaughterhouses permeated the Meatpacking District, not hip restaurants, shops or hotels.  Nevertheless, those electrical currents of possibility, that tingling sensation in my stomach when I see Manhattan through an airplane window or drive in from my hometown in upstate New York, still remain.  I cannot wait to get my feet on the pavement; to hear that distinct New York accent (mine comes out as well); hail a cab and have it screech to a halt; then go to my old stomping grounds and feel like a local.

Yes, New York is a tough place.  It can chew you up and spit you out.  There are decadence and excess, dark elements that can consume you if you don’t keep things in perspective.  Tension and conflict are built in the city’s DNA, making it the perfect canvas for characters to succeed, fail, grow, regress, fall in love, get rejected, lose their way, find themselves, descend into a downward spiral, rise up…  A writer can juxtapose glamour and grittiness; intellectualism with frivolity; culture with commerce; openness with oppression. The city’s diversity allows us to create characters that are unique—quirky, provocative individuals symbolic of a world in flux.  Hard rules don’t apply and New York is still the place for those who want to reinvent themselves and defy convention.

I will never get over my love affair with NYC and here are some postcards from my visit to prove it!


My sister treated me to a performance of Romeo and Juliet and I was transported to another world by the artistry and athleticism. Storytelling in movement and music!  I love the cultural atmosphere of the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center.

Isabella Boylston and David Hallberg conveyed the love and angst of Romeo and Juliet with so much depth and emotion.

My last NYC address was on the Upper East Side and I still stay in that part of town whenever I visit.  This time I booked The Lowell on East 63rd Street.  Very cozy hotel with a beautiful library/club room, Majorelle restaurant, Jacques bar and lounge.

I always try to get together with old friends and these two have been in my life since I was fourteen years old.  I think we were the loudest ones in the restaurant!

I woke up after a good night’s sleep—much-needed for my jet-lagged bones—and went out for an early morning walk in Central Park.  What I love about NYC is that no matter how early or quiet you think it is, the streets are always bustling with cars, dogs, runners, delivery people…

I bought coffee at my favorite cafe, Sant Ambroeus, but stopped at a trusty diner for a Western omelet after my walk.  Quick, easy and delicious!


Back in Sweden, I really crave black and white cookies. They are quintessentially New York for me and I couldn’t resist buying three at William Greenberg. They are the best!

Then I was off to the International Center of Photography with my college roommate to view the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit.  I’m most familiar with his Parisian series of photographs so it was very interesting to see the work he had done in India, Pakistan and the US (Pittsburgh).  They were multilayered and more than the pretty pictures I usually associate with his oeuvre.


We also stopped by Salon 94 to see the latest Laurie Simmons show. Colorful depictions of identity and engaging commentary on prescribed roles.


I love how I was able to spend time Uptown and Downtown. The contrasts are important to me and provide different kinds of energy and inspiration. This restaurant, The Butcher’s Daughter, in Nolita was super cute and delicious. Perfect outdoor dining on a warm and sunny day!

With my dear college friend—a photographer, writer and cultural critic.  We reminisced about our student years and discussed where we are in our lives today.  I love how our conversations touched on everything from high to low!

I still have a host of things I want to see while I’m here and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do them.  The Heavenly Bodies exhibition at the Met and the new André Leon Talley documentary are top of my list.  In the meantime, here are some more snapshots from my favorite city—creativity and stimulation captured from just walking down the street.

What’s your favorite city?


A few days ago, I hosted my Book Group for cocktails, conversation and a preview of Lagging Indicators.  My Book Group is comprised of women who share one fact in common:  We’re all expats—hailing from the United States, Canada, France, England and Australia, to name but a few—who moved to Sweden for a relationship or work.

We meet about once a month and many of these women have become dear friends.  Like most Book Groups, our choices range from commercial to literary novels; classics to contemporary fiction and non-fiction; and sometimes we eliminate books all together and go to a museum or watch a movie.  In other words, we’re not too hard on ourselves!  So, I thought it could be a nice change before the summer to have an event around the subject of following one’s creative passion and discuss my writing and self-publishing journey.  Book groups are a curious phenomenon; the themes from the stories can spark an openness and exchange of confidences that may not occur in a regular setting.  I have found myself revealing things to my Book Group that I haven’t even articulated to close friends!  For this reason, I felt very comfortable giving them a sneak peek of Lagging Indicators.  After mingling over wine and finger food, we sat in my living room and I gave a little presentation (slides created so professionally by my daughter) about the pros and cons of being an indie author.  The questions and comments I received from the Group were so thoughtful, perceptive and encouraging!  I am grateful beyond words for their support and positive energy.  I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures from the evening as much as I enjoyed spending time with these wonderful women.


I had ordered 25 advance reading copies to distribute to my Book Group and was so nervous they wouldn’t arrive, but they came as scheduled the day before. I couldn’t wait to open the box and see the bound version of Lagging Indicators for the first time.


Putting some finishing touches in the living room. I moved the dining room chairs there so everyone would have a place to sit while I made my presentation.


I ordered a spring buffet from Carotte Catering, cupcakes from Cupcake Sthlm and macarons from Wiener Konditoriet. As you can see, the theme was pink, mirroring the cover of Lagging Indicators. I call it “Power Pink!”


My daughter suggested displaying the books in the office and I love the way she arranged them. I have to admit it was pretty cool–and surreal–seeing them lined up like that! My protagonist, Mia Lewis, looked like she had come to life!


Pouring rosé of course!


During my presentation, I discussed traditional publishing vs. indie publishing and gave my Book Group a look at the different cover drafts for Lagging Indicators. Choosing the right image, font and colors was one of the hardest parts of the creative process, but I’m so pleased with the final product!


I really appreciated how interested they all seemed :).


Signing books: I have to work on my signature–it’s been a while!


My Book Group friends gave me the best present by attending my little preview, but they also spoiled me with these lovely congratulatory gifts.

Lagging Indicators will be released on July 2nd, but it’s available for pre-order now on Amazon!


It was a sunny and mild Tuesday evening in central Stockholm, the perfect night for an afterwork drink or dinner outside, but a few hundred of us sat in a darkened auditorium on the third floor of Kulturhuset, eagerly awaiting acclaimed American writer, Jacqueline Woodson.  Woodson would soon begin a conversation with literature professor Elina Druker as the 2018 Laureate of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature.

Ironically, I first heard of Woodson through her second novel of adult fiction, Another Brooklyn (2016), a story about female friendship set in the 1970s.  I spent a lot of time as a kid in pre-gentrified Brooklyn; it was an era that I remembered well and was keen to see represented in literature.  However, it’s Woodson’s work as a children’s author, portraying young characters (usually between ten to sixteen years old) and worlds not typically depicted in that genre, that has won her accolades and a beloved following.

Working with themes such as racism, segregation, socio-economic inequality and sexual identity, Woodson challenges us to reconsider what comprises “children’s literature;” to confront our own prejudices and comfort level; and to give young people their due as legitimate voices.  The force in Woodson’s body of work centers on its ability to transcend age groups.  During the author talk, she reflected that readers of all generations—and walks of life—confess that they can relate to the experiences and observations recounted in her stories.

Woodson described how she always wanted to write and was a voracious reader as a kid.  The library was her second home; a detail that was very similar to my own childhood.  She also spoke about the importance of diverse narratives and the concept of “mirrors and windows.”  Books are the most powerful when we can see ourselves in the characters and gain insight into worlds other than our own.  By grabbing readers at a young age, children’s books are wonderful tools to share our similarities and differences.

As a tip for writers, Woodson recommended being as specific as possible when crafting scenes.  We shouldn’t shy away from delving deeper into setting, detail, voice and emotion.  Through this specificity, scenes become more honest, authentic and, hence, more universal.  Druker asked Woodson to read out loud a few passages from her memoir, New York Times bestseller Brown Girl Dreaming (2014).  Written in a lyrical, verse-style, it’s a journey through Woodson’s childhood alongside the people and places that have shaped her identity.  Tight and concise, the requested passages encapsulated so much depth and feeling, transporting us in the audience to the landscape of Woodson’s history.


The newly-released, Swedish translation of “Brown Girl Dreaming.”

It would have been enough for Woodson to be a brilliant, immensely gifted, prolific novelist who has been honored with the National Book Award; Coretta Scott King Award; the NAACP Image Award; and now, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, but she was also humble, conveying warmth, humor and empathy.  Did I forget to mention that she did a reading at the Obama White House?  I think everyone in the room would have liked to exchange thoughts with Woodson about a host of topics—both related and unrelated to her books.  I’m so proud my adopted country has recognized the beauty and breadth of Woodson’s writing.  I got the sense we all understood the urgency for inclusiveness in these divided times.

Woodson graciously signed books after the ALMA interview.  When I got home, I saw that she had written in mine: “Jennifer, my fellow brown girl dreaming!”


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