It was a last minute trip, planned only a week in advance. I would journey from New Hampshire to New York City by some means of transportation and buy a dress from Dmitry Sholokhov’s collection while he made an in-store appearance. Two amazing girlfriends of mine made this whole thing happen, one, Steph, by offering to let me crash with her and the other, Kate, by checking out the situation with Lord & Taylor beforehand.
You see, I have a book signing next month in New York City, at the Book Expo of America. This is a huge deal for me, and will be a chance to share my zany, colorful Death and Mr. Right with the reviewers of the world. For an ultimate dream event like this, you need a perfect dress, right? Especially if you’re like me, and wear dresses or skirts almost every day. (Jeans? What jeans? I might still have a pair or two, buried in my closet, but who needs ‘em?)
Last season’s Project Runway was incredibly inspiring for me. I was still writing Death and Mr. Right, but was forming a new idea. Seeing the talented and hard-working Dmitry Sholokhov win the show was so exciting. There’s something about seeing a deserving person get somewhere that leaves you with an infectious sense of happiness. His work is stunning- if you haven’t seen it, you need to look it up- and his manner was always quite gracious.
As I finished Death and Mr. Right, the ideas for The Unlove Spell had finally reached a point of gluing together. National Write a Novel in a Month (NANOWRIMO) was poised to take place only a few days later, and I decided to try writing The Unlove Spell for NANOWRIMO. Dmitry helped inspire the kind-hearted but mysterious writer Viktor Arson and I tore through the first draft of the book in a ridiculously short period of time. Even before it was done, I received questions about it and interest from book-industry people.
So really, a trip to New York City to snag the perfect dress for my booksigning and meet a muse? A win-win situation.
Wednesday morning I piled onto the first of two busses and began a 7 hour journey to the best city in America. Mercifully, the trip there was rather uneventful. No one gave birth on the bus, though a series of screaming babies certainly attempted to make it SOUND like a maternity ward on both busses.
Mostly I was just thankful to get off the second bus late Wednesday afternoon and stretch my legs.
New York City is a series of colors, lights and overwhelming impulses when you visit it the first time. It’s different when you return. Everything seems vaguely familiar, though there are still keyholes of magic in the shadows, in the reflection of certain store windows, in the tidal waves of human voices. I met up with my girlfriends for dinner at a cute little French café in Chelsea and we talked in excited voices about writing, publishing trends, how frustrating shallow female characters are and, of course, the way that plot just… well, happens.
By 11 that night, I’d crashed out, with the lyrics to Huey Lewis’ Once Upon a Time In New York City playing in my head, a reminder of the big dreams I’d had as a kid and how they were all starting to come true, slowly but surely.
Thursday morning I rode into Manhattan with Steph and spent all of six hours walking here and there, popping into shops I’d always wanted to visit and revisiting some favorite spots. One very helpful salesman at Sephora laughed with me about how pale I am (bleached white bread), but then turned me on to the most amazing concealer I’ve ever found (Kat Von D, for those who’d like to try it). I promised him that his service would be remembered, and I figure this is as good a place as any to mention it.
Somewhere around 4pm, though, the excitement of the city had turned into a sort of draggy observation of killer outfits, high heels and hot dog stands. You can find anything in New York City, anything at all, except a quiet place to sit and recharge for a while. As I walked along 5th Avenue towards Lord & Taylor, a woman flagged me down and said, “DO YOU KNOW WHERE LORD & TAYLOR IS?”
After a few seconds of energizing pleasure at being mistaken for a native, I pointed her in the right direction. She bobbled off to shop and I put my headphones back in and walked with a new swagger. There are three main things to remember if you want to pass for a native: pop headphones in, walk with purpose and don’t hesitate in the crosswalks.
Lord & Taylor had placed Dmitry’s dress collection in the middle of the second floor, near the shoes. Not many things could probably distract from Lord & Taylor’s massive smorgasbord of sexy, well displayed shoes, but Dmitry’s display was able to do just that.
My favorite of the collection, a little black dress with a ruffle, ended up being just as perfect as I suspected it would be. After trying several of the dresses on for fun (the white one? Astoundingly beautiful. The flowy slate-blue one? Gorgeous), I made my purchase.
I struck up a conversation with a lovely reporter and we chatted about clothes, Nick Hornby, the music industry and books. Eventually I realized she was at the event to interview Dmitry and, as someone who has conducted many radio and print interviews, it was fun to see one take place in person. I popped into line and Steph arrived, breathless from escaping work and breathless from the sweltering temperature of the store.
Dmitry was incredibly gracious in person and we chatted briefly about the dress I’d chosen and how far I’d traveled and how he’d inspired me for the book I’d just finished. We took some pictures and I headed out of the store with the beautiful black dress in tow.
All in all, by the next morning as I walked to the bus stop to head back to New Hampshire, I felt tired but excited for the future. And had already started plotting a sequel for The Unlove Spell…
To buy Dmitry’s gorgeous dresses (before they’re gone!) check out: LORD & TAYLOR
CLICK HERE for more about Death and Mr. Right
Keep your dreams alive, ‘cause dreaming is still how the strong survive… It’s always once upon a time, in New York City…
Kendra L. Saunders is the author of the magic realism novel Inanimate Objects and the upcoming dark comedy Death and Mr. Right (Spence City, 2013). She has conducted interviews with musicians, steampunk personalities, writers and fashion designers, writes for Pure Textuality and NerdCaliber and hosts the popular Five-Headed Muse writing panel at conventions. You can find her online at all times of day or night at www.kendralsaunders.com or on twitter @kendrybird