Lauren got fed up with the dating scene in her hometown of New York City and turned to books instead. Rather than spending nights in with her books, however, she’s been taking herself out on dates all over the city related to her reads. By reading her way around different neighborhoods, she’s managed to discover corners of NYC she wouldn’t otherwise have visited! I wanted to know more about Lauren and her Literary Dates and happily she agreed to an interview!
What prompted you to start literary travel themed blogging?
It all happened in a pretty serendipitous way I think. I actually didn’t start a literary travel themed blog, to begin with. I knew I wanted to write and a coworker of mine at the time was a blogger, which got me thinking that maybe I could do that too. They say write what you know, so my first thought was to write about dating, since I’ve done a lot of online dating in NYC. I did a few posts like that, but it didn’t feel quite right to me. At the same time, I was reading a lot of rom-com books so I thought writing book reviews of those kinds of books would fit in with a dating blog. My first blog was called Searching for Humor because I was searching for humor in my dating life “to keep my sanity.” Because of that blog, I had a Twitter account and started connecting with other bloggers and Twitter users.
So one day on Twitter, I’m conversing with Bex Runs It (@tothaground) and we start talking about our mutual love of Audrey Hepburn. Bex told me about an awesome autobiography that she read on Audrey. She totally inspired me to read about Audrey Hepburn. I couldn’t find the book Bex recommended on my Kindle, but I found Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson. It’s about all the behind the scenes stuff on the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I thought, “I live in NYC where this movie was partly filmed…I should visit the film’s sites, take pictures (I love taking pictures!) and blog about it.” I had a lot of fun! It whet my appetite for more.
While on my Breakfast at Tiffany’s tour of NYC, I began to think about how there are probably lots of books set in NYC. I decided that I should do this again with books set in NYC. So I did! I took myself out on “dates” in NYC inspired by books set in the city. Another Twitter friend, the always witty, Alex (@Alex_Micati) referred to them as Literary Dates and that’s how my new site was born.
Life is funny! My blog has really just picked me up, taken me for a ride, and I’m just going with it. What’s next? Who knows? I’m here for it!
Where does your love of books come from?
I’m not going to lie, this might be embarrassing for a book blogger to confess, and I might be ousted from the book blogging community, but…I grew up as more of a TV watcher and movie-goer. Shame! Everyone is now throwing plates at me! My mom is a major TV/moviehead. She raised me that way!
However, in my defense, as a kid, I did without a doubt, fall in love with Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I held on tight to that book and when I got to the end…words can’t describe the emotions I felt when I finished that book. Many years later, in my mid-twenties, I had the opportunity to visit the Secret Annex when I traveled through Amsterdam.
Another classic pulled me in as well during my youth- Little Women. However, I feel another confession coming on…don’t hate me, but I probably read both those books after watching the movie versions.
I also read The Vampire Chronicles after watching the movie Interview with a Vampire. So basically now I’m admitting that my love for Brad Pitt brought on my love of books.
I’m also remembering a very intellectual series I devoured in my youth called Sweet Valley High. That series is probably what made me a big fan of rom-com in my adulthood. However, my love of that genre was also spurred by my interest in writing a rom-com myself.
About 10 years ago, I read Anne Lamont’s book about writing called Bird by Bird. In her book, she recommends reading lots of books in the genre that you want to write. I took that advice and ran with it! Ten years later, I’ve read TONS of books in that genre but haven’t written one…yet. I started writing a book back then but never finished it. I am glad, though, that reading that book brought on my current love of books. I love rom-coms, suspense, women’s fiction, YA, epic stories, historical fiction, classics, and more! I’ve even read Tolstoy. Yup. I loved Anna Karenina. So do you all forgive me now for being raised on TV? I broke out the big guns to seek your forgiveness. Freakin’ Tolstoy! Come on, please!?
You mostly take yourself on literary dates around New York City, which of these has been your favorite so far?
It’s a tough decision between my first ever literary date, my Breakfast at Tiffany’s Tour and my other favorite, my I Heart New York Tour. If I had to decide, I think it’s my I Heart New York Tour. I feel like my more current posts are better visually but I loved the rom-com feel of this tour. I think the style and flow of this one is the best. And of course, I had a great time on the tour both with the fun stuff I did in Battery Park like the SeaGlass Carousel and the more introspective moments I had at the MoMA while experiencing artist Adrian Piper’s special exhibit.
(Speaking of, I had to update this post because I was a terrible newbie blogger at that point who did not do her due diligence. I’ve only just recently learned that pictures from the artwork in the MoMA can’t be posted online. I don’t remember seeing any signs, but their photo policy is on their website and was confirmed via email. So I’ve sadly just removed them and rewritten parts of that post. I hope people will still enjoy the post! And I hope this can serve as a cautionary tale to other bloggers to be better than me. Do your research before getting into blogging and make sure you have permission before posting pictures, especially when you’re in a museum.)
Another reason this post is my favorite is because of the awesome author of this book, Lindsey Kelk. She read my post and said such lovely things about it! I couldn’t believe it. She shared it on her Twitter and Facebook. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how fast my stats were rising. I know it’s not all about stats but that was an exciting moment. As I watched the numbers continue to rise, I thought there was a glitch or something. Then I realized it was the power of the Kelk! On her Facebook page, I read many comments from her readers who also loved it. Unbelievable! Her share also got the attention of another well-known British author, Jill Mansell, who actually commented on two of my blog posts! She shared it as well!
So yeah, Lindsey Kelk is amazing and I will read the rest of the I Heart series and maybe even travel to the locations each book is set in. I Heart London Tour? Yes, please! Maybe one day!
You recently took yourself on a date with a story written for you. Tell us a little about that experience!
Yes! I never in my wildest dreams could have thought something like this would ever happen. Sarah Smith and I have been following and supporting each other on Twitter and our blogs. Her blog is called Sarah Writes Smut. She writes some of the steamiest stories I’ve ever read! Sarah has been my biggest support from the beginning. The first ever literary date I went on got pretty low views. Like I said before, I know it’s not all about the views but I was feeling a bit dejected. Then, Sarah commented and said so many amazing things about my post. It was so encouraging. I felt 100 times better! I might not have continued with my blog had it not been for Sarah’s encouragement. That is the truth.
So anyway, fast forward to the present when she reached out to me about setting a short story series in a Brooklyn neighborhood of my choice. Then, I could do a book tour based on her story. I loved the idea! The steamy series, Practically Neighbors, she wrote was perfect. What a cool experience! I still can’t believe it happened. I’m so grateful for that experience. Thank you, Sarah! I can’t wait to read her debut novel, Faker.
Have you found a new favorite place in the city you were unfamiliar with before starting the blog?
I never hung out in Battery Park much before blogging but now I really enjoy it. I like that it’s by the water and you can kind of feel like you’re having an escape from the city without actually leaving the city. Next time I need to catch a boat ride from there!
Sometimes you travel outside the city. Tell us about your favorite bookish trip outside NYC.
It would have to be when I read a book set in Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. My family and I have a summer home there on the lake so I was very excited to share it with my blog readers. A friend once referred to Lake Winni as a “little slice of heaven.”
I read the book A Little Murder by Cindy Davis, which is set on Lake Winni and more specifically in Alton, NH. That post is a two-parter which included a crazy, wild boat ride, yummy food, and an adorable gnome garden.
I’d love to do more bookish trips. It will definitely be in my future.
Tell us about a surprising experience you were able to have thanks to your blog.
I read the book The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe and because of its supernatural themes, that book inspired a trip to the psychic. Of course, as a single female, I asked about my love life and what does she tell me? She told me I’ve already met my soulmate! So I’m forced to look back at all the male suitors in my lifetime and think, “Which one of you fools is my soulmate? Lord, help me!”
Are you partial to ereaders, print books, or audio books?
I wish I could say print books…in an ideal world, that’s what I’d say. I do miss regular books but it’s easier for me to read on the subway with my small Kindle. Also, since I’m in NYC and have to carry my life in my purse, it’s easier to have a small Kindle as opposed to a bigger book. My NYC apartment is also too small for lots of bookshelves. I should probably visit the library? Ya think?
Can you tell us about any exciting upcoming content? Or the top place on your bucket list?
Well…I’m trying my hand at writing my own rom-com “book.” It’s inspired by my I Heart New York Tour, which as you know, was inspired by Lindsey Kelk’s book. The coolest thing which I haven’t talked about yet is that Lindsey Kelk has given me her blessing. I asked her via Twitter Direct Message if I could refer to her book in mine and she gave me the green light! If I have Lindsey Kelk’s blessing, then maybe it’s time I remove those quote marks from “book?” Maybe! I’m okay with admitting my self-doubt. It will be that much sweeter when I get to the moment when I feel like I truly am writing a book. I believe I can get there. I’m going to be patient with myself, let it happen naturally, and enjoy the process.
Have more questions for Lauren? Ask away in the comments below!
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