You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but can you take Brooklyn out of the girl? Lorraine Machuchi has held on tight to her Brooklyn home, and to Tommy, the neighborhood guy she's been pining over for years. But the very guy she tossed everything away for just told her he'll never wind up with her—a girl who's not going anywhere. That's the kick in the pants she needs to cross the bridge to Manhattan, where she starts coloring hair at a swank salon. There she meets a new and fascinating species: The Park Avenue Princess. Sure, their $400 cashmere sweaters, charity balls for poor girls with small boobs, and 'sexy' yoga are a bit over-the-top for someone like Lorraine, but sometimes even a Brooklyn girl can learn to love her own inner princess.
Have you ever had a book which you couldn't put down? No, seriously...you couldn't put it down for anything, not even traffic lights? Welcome to my experience reading Daniella Brodsky's 'Princess of Park Avenue'. Not only did I relate to Lorraine Machuchi being a Brooklyn girl, and someone who had settled for 3rd-rate treatment from the guy she loves, but I was totally wrapped up in the all the drama, and the faux-friendships that formed between Lorraine and the original 'Park Avenue Princess's'. I was also given the amazing opportunity to interview Ms. Brodsky regarding this underdog novel of a young woman trying to make her mark on New York City, and also find love in the man that has been in her life for so many years. You can purchase Daniella Brodsky's 'Princess of Park Avenue' on-line at such places as: Barnes & Nobel or Amazon.com in both paper or digital formats.
Rose Lucivero Interview’s Daniella Brodsky: Princess of Park Avenue
Daniella, I’d like to kick this interview off with thanking you for taking the time to sit for this interview on “Princess of Park Avenue.” I have been a bibliophile since I was a young girl and there have been only a handful of novels which I have devoured, and considered a true treasure. “Princess of Park Avenue” is the first book in many years that I simply could not put down…taking it to work to read on my breaks and even reading it while stopped at traffic lights. (Readers do not attempt this at home.)
- I’m sure you must get this question a lot, but how much of yourself is actually poured in to the creation of the character Lorraine Machuchi?
DB: First off, let me pick my jaw up from the ground. That is the most wonderful compliment! I’m so glad you devoured the book. This is always my intention! Lorraine Machuchi is nothing like me at all. In many ways—her tough-cookie side, her audaciousness, and confidence are traits I wish I had more of! But on the completely opposite side, we have her lack of self-confidence and self-awareness when it comes to men—and this contradiction, which I was floored to discover in some of the savviest businesswomen I know, was really what drew me to tell this story in the first place. And those ladies must not be alone because you wouldn’t believe how many women have reached out to me about their own personal sagas with Mr. Wrong.
DB: I chose Brooklyn because I knew it well. My mother’s entire family hails from Brooklyn, and I’ve spent many a summer, weekend, and mid-week sleepover there! After I graduated from NYU I lived in Bay Ridge (which I refer to as ‘old school Brooklyn’) and was really surprised to find it was a world away from NYC, though I only took one train to commute their every day. It was refreshing and inspiring, unique and in many ways, steeped in tradition—all of which made it an interesting place to share via fiction. In fact, I was riding the Q train home from my grandmother’s Brighton Beach apartment when I came up with the initial story sketch for PRINCESS OF PARK AVENUE. I guess watching the skyline flash by got the creative juices flowing.
- Why did you pick Brooklyn, NY as the featured borough? Why not The Bronx or Queens? Do you feel that women in Bay Ridge, New York are stereo-typed in to the Italian-princess, gum-chomping, women who tolerate her guy cheating on her and driving a muscle car while they are stuck in the kitchen making gnocchi and homemade sauce?
- In the novel, Lorraine’s deceased grandmother pops in and pays visits to several characters, including Lorraine. Do you believe in the paranormal? And have you ever had your own paranormal experience? (I myself have had several dealings with paranormal energies, and am part of a paranormal investigative team.)
DB: Look, I’m one of those people who’s always bawling her eyes out when those who claim to commune with the dead do so on morning radio. That being said, I also ask my little crew up there for some good luck when I really need it. They seem to listen! But what do I really think? I don’t know—which is a great place for a novelist to be: we ask the questions. It’s up to the readers—i.e., each of us—to ponder the answers according to our individual perspectives. That interactivity is what makes novels so wonderful.
- What has been your biggest or most memorable fashion faux pas?
DB: Oh God. You’re talking to a girl who mainly wears black tank tops and jeans and has done so for longer than she cares to admit (trends have come and gone but it remains my most flattering look). Still, I’ve managed to embarrass myself plenty; I don’t know why but the one time that sticks out most was way back in the fifth grade around the time I first started wearing a bra. I must have only been wearing the darned thing for a couple of months, but for whatever reason, that morning I forgot to put it on. I was mortified the entire day and refused to take my jacket off—even in gym class.
- You have worked as a beauty editor as well as an author and I wonder, in the beauty world, is there one specific look that has made you cringe?
DB: The great thing about most editors is that we always get excited about new looks, new trends, and new products. Sure, there are days when you open your press releases and think, Great! Another new pink frosty lipstick. Puleaze. But for the most part, the creativity of the beauty world—like the creativity of the literary world—is a collective conscience, and there’s always some new perspective an individual artist takes that seems to throw everything into a new, exciting light. That said, no more celebrity copycatting, please! That really makes me cringe.
- I think that most women who read “Princess of Park Avenue” have had their own “Tommy” in their life at some point of their life. But do you think that the length of time that Lorraine suffered with the Tommy scenario was realistic?
DB: In fiction, we often have to dramatize events to get the point across in a way that makes for absorbing fiction. Being Lorraine grew up on the same block as the undeserving object of her affection, she’s had it bad for a long time, longer than I would hope most people would take to move on, but the reality is whether we met him in middle school, high-school, university or after—from real women’s stories, there are those of us who can never forget, those of us who can’t move onto new, meaningful relationships even when it’s been so long we know that the “Tommy” in our heads doesn’t have anything to do with who the real Tommy is anymore, even when we’ve tried to move on and put our current relationships in jeopardy by pursuing “Tommy”. And don’t most of these women know they’re making enormous mistakes? This is the messy, fascinating, often painful stuff of love. And that’s why we’re drawn to read about it over and over again.
Being a single girl in New York…I’ve had more than my share of unsavory guys I went on dates with. This brings me to the character “Matt”. Was Matt based on anyone specifically that you know? Do you think that Matt would have been so understanding and patient while trying to get Lorraine to give him a chance? And where can a single girl meet a real-life Matt?
When writing this story of a young woman, trying to make her mark on New York City, marching to her own beat…were you concerned with the character sounding too much like Candace Bushnell’s “Carrie Bradshaw”?
DB: I’m trying to think back here… I don’t think I’d ever seen Sex and the City at the time I wrote this. If I had, it wasn’t nearly as popular or prevalent as it later became. And even if it were, this character’s personality was nothing like Carrie’s. Lorraine would have looked down her nose at someone as trendy and fabulous as Carrie. If I look back at it now, I guess the one commonality is the shared obsession with their perceived Mr. Wrongs. The only thing this tells me is that it’s a common problem! The other thing about the SATC/Daniella Brodsky parallel is that when the television show first came out, people kept telling me about it, and saying it was about me, since I was a freelance writer in Manhattan going to all the spots they visited in that show, and often running into the same professional problems. When I first saw it, I thought someone must have been tapping my phone because her life was so much like mine (except for the Manolos!!!). I couldn’t be further from that life now!
- Have you personally ever had a nightmarish horror story happen to you with your hairdresser? (High-lights turn purple? A razor shag go awry?) How would you suggest fixing a hairDON’T?
DB: Where should we start: the fourth grade feathered look? The student trial highlights from hell? The bob that everyone seemed to have in 1994 that took my lifetime long locks to a look that my boyfriend’s father described as “a kindergartener’s” in a matter of moments? Haven’t chopped my hair since. How do you fix a bad hairstyle? It really depends what’s happened. But stylists are so smart today, they really can do anything—color correction, extensions, straightening, curling, repairing, you name it. This is one of the reasons I wanted to set the story in Park Avenue’s beauty world. These stylists are expected to do the impossible every day. And more often than not, they do it.
- In “Princess of Park Avenue” Lorraine’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Tommy has a major turn of character and seems to want to claim her mind, body, and soul. Do you feel that this turn about with this character is possible in real life or even realistic enough for a character?
DB: When people face situations that they never could have imagined, this is when we are forced to change or get lost in the rubble. This happens to everyone during the course of a lifetime. And in the case of someone like Tommy, and Lorraine, too—people who’ve put off making changes for as long as humanly possible—when reality and change do hit, the results are often most dramatic. The question of how people react to challenging circumstances is one that continually fascinates me; my most recent novel, Vivian Rising, explores this topic at great length. It’s amazing the psychological, biological, and societal research that has gone into exploring what makes some of us capable of coping and adapting better than others.
One last final question Daniella, and then I’ll let you get back to the wonderful weather of Australia.
- It seems like you almost left “Princess of Park Avenue” open for a follow-up novel on Lorraine and her crazy group of friends. Do you think that there is room for more Brooklyn meets New York City shenanigans?
DB: I love these characters, and I love to picture the way their lives unfold after all this drama. I can’t see why I shouldn’t catch up with them at some point…
Once again, I’d like to thank you for taking the time and joining me for an interview. As it happens, I just realized that “Princess of Park Avenue” is actually the second of your books which I’ve read. I look forward to reading many more of your novels, and I am sure that success and accolades will be bestowed on you for many years to come.
DB: It’s funny you ask where you can meet a real-life Matt. I was once approached to update a book called “How to Meet a Mensch in Manhattan.” At the time, I said I hadn’t a clue how this was done, or I would have found one for myself, and declined the offer. Still, my Girl’s Guides turned me into somewhat of a reluctant single girl in the city guru, though my dating life may have said otherwise! Although Matt was not based on any one man I knew, I’m sure in many ways he was a composite of lots of them. The fact is, in fiction, our real life experiences are only the jumping-off point for the story. The real magic happens when those characters come into their own and propel the story forward in a way that’s unique to only that particular character. Would Matt be so patient in the real world? That’s another great thing about fiction: it allows us to ask these questions and consider the relevant issues in a way that goes beyond the page—and touches our lives in a personal way, often staying with us always; this is precisely what my current novel, The Book Code, is about.