Saturday, May 11, 2013

Putting Northport on the Literary Map

One of the things I love about being an author is having the community come together because of my books, and for giving small businesses some recognition in the process. I had lots of haunted restaurants, shops and historical places in my Ghosts of Long Island books, and as I always say, ghosts are good for business. They do bring in customers! 

So when I set out to write my novel The Medal, I wanted to keep Long Island in the forefront once again. After all, I am a Long Island author, so why not promote it? Unlike my non-fiction books, I was able to now create my own places, but I wanted them to be modeled after places people were familiar with. I love reading books and trying to figure out if it’s based on a real place, so now I had the opportunity to do so. 

Since I live in Huntington, I didn’t want the book set in my own backyard, so I decide to place it in the seafaring town of Northport. I left the main streets, like Woodbine, as is, but changed the name of the street where the main characters call home. The house in the book is actually a real house in Northport where friends of mine used to live. I had spent a lot of time there when they owned it, and I was completely inspired by its tranquility and beauty. 

The main character, Bethany Fitzpatrick, is a pastry chef and owner of Giovanni’s Italian Bakery, otherwise known in real life as Northport’s Copenhagen’s Bakery and Café. In the book I changed the interior and made it an Italian bakery instead of Danish, but everyone who reads it asks if it’s based on Copenhagen’s. During the filming of my video book trailer, I needed a shot of cannolis (a running theme in The Medal) so I called up another bakery, Fiorello Dolce in Huntington, to get the look of the Italian bakery.  

Bethany meets with two of her friends at the cozy Villa La Marco restaurant in Northport, which is actually Campari’s Ristorante. I added a bar and a very Italian maître d', but kept it’s intimate  atmosphere. 

I did bring some of Huntington into the picture as well. Although set in Northport, Lorenzo’s Jeweler, where Bethany first lays eyes on a large Padre Pio statue, is actually Libutti Jewelers on New York Avenue in Huntington.  The church in the book is St. Francis of Assisi. Many people believe it is the church by the same name in Greenlawn (especially since they have a huge Padre Pio following.) I actually decided to name it St. Francis because of my own love for the saint, and since he too, like Padre Pio, bore the five wounds of Christ…the stigmata. By now, I’m sure you’re getting the picture that my book has something to do with Padre Pio; it most definitely does. To get back to the church in the book, however, the outside is modeled after St. Philip Neri in Northport, but the inside is clearly St. Patrick’s Church in Huntington.  

The only place in my book where I kept the real name, was when I made mention of Mr. Sausage, the Italian Pork Store in Huntington Village; a cult following amongst Huntingtonians. Because of my long-time friendship with the owners, the co-authored cookbook I did with Sal Baldanza, their devotion to Padre Pio, and their support of my book, I couldn’t help but give them an extra plug as a thank you.  

In my efforts to support these local businesses, and to put Northport on the literary map, I came up with two unique book events that are actually taking place this upcoming week. As an author, it is often challenging to find places to give lectures and book signings. Our book stores are dwindling, and so many people are purchasing books online. I’m a book person. I love buying books, supporting authors, meeting them and getting books signed, and I love talking to people about my own books. What good is being an author if you can’t get feedback from your readers? 

So this Thursday, I will be at Campari’s Ristorante at 225 Main Street, Northport doing an Author Dinner. For $60 per person, guests will enjoy a special 4-course, prix fixe dinner, a complimentary glass of wine, and a signed copy of The Medal. During the dinner I will discuss the book, along with the true stories behind it, including a miracle that happened to me. The event takes place from 7-9 PM, and reservations are a must. You can call Campari’s at 631-757-6700.  

The next night, I will be at Copenhagen’s Bakery and Café, at 75 Woodbine Avenue for a Meet the Author, Book Discussion and Signing from 5-7 PM. Everyone who attends the event will receive a free cup of coffee. Books will be available for purchase, as will delicious cakes and pastries.  

Spread the word and help put Northport and our small businesses on the literary map. Hope to see you there!