When you read writer/poet/professor Victoria Redel, you can't help but recognize a familiar figure in her assortment of exceptional works, and her latest novel is no exception. " I would say that the city—the movement, the sound, the rhythm, the vibrancy of it—is a character in The Border of Truth, "says the awarding-winning author of Loverboy (adapted for the screen by Kevin Bacon) and Swoon.
Which is impressive, considering New York City, her home of the nearly 25 years, wasn't exactly her first pick for a homebase. "I wanted to live in the country. I had no interest in the city," says Redel, born and raised in Scarsdale. "I was interested in the mountains, in being in the woods. And then I came to graduate school to get my M.F.A. in poetry and my life sort of took over in other ways. I've been here ever since."
From student life to instructor life at Columbia, where she teaches fiction, and Sarah Lawrence College ("I'm a switch hitter, teaching both poetry and fiction."), this mother of two is still sweetly in awe of her striking surroundings. "It is really fun to walk into a place—especially with Columbia's big, grand, fabulous buildings—and walk into the same building that I was a student in, as a teacher now."
Other old habits that are hard to break include a three days a week, four hours a day writing custom, where the disciplined Redel gets down to business in the blissfully distraction-free New York Society Library. "You have to turn your cell phone off, you can't get Internet access, and nobody could touch me," explains Redel. "Big portions of my writing life happen with no connection to the world."
More linked with the community are the neighborhood strolls where she never knows where inspiration may strike. "Particularly with The Border of Truth, I would just walk through the city and it would be like, 'oh yeah, the Union Square Market needs to be in this,'" says Redel. So despite the quiet, woodsy oasis of the country, "I have two sons who grew up here so I imagine I'm always going to have a piece of life in New York," says Redel. After all, how could she not have her favorite reoccurring character back for more?
Victoria Redel talks about her latest novel on the official ontheinside.info blog here.
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