I’m often asked if some of the characters in the book were real. The answer is YES! Well, lots of them!
I had so much fun researching “1906 New York” that I knew Paige would have an exciting time (perhaps a little more than she bargained for.) The love-triangle-murder I briefly reference in the book was so scandalous it was considered the “trial of the century” and has been retold in books, plays and movies. 1906 NYC had an entire fleet of electric cabs, ("cutting edge" in a good way) and was at the vanguard of American cuisine (cutting edge in a bad way.)
And then there were these fabulous characters!
Known as “Oscar of the Waldorf”
Oscar has a tiny role in the book, (he fetches some water for the traumatized time traveler), but I couldn’t resist introducing the man who was credited with inventing the Waldorf Salad, Thousand Island Dressing, and Eggs Benedict!
Petrosino really was a friend of Enrico Caruso.
Petrosino really did head up the elite “Italian squad” and was a pioneer of crime fighting techniques.
Through the Italian squad, he infiltrated an anarchist group and found evidence of a plot to assassinate President William McKinley. He informed the secret service, who brushed him off, even though Theodore Roosevelt vouched for his brilliance. Then McKinley really was assassinated. Damn!
Petrosino himself was killed a few years after the time of Paige’s visit. He was on a top secret mission to Sicily when he was gunned down in the middle of a Piazza. Shortly after the murder, a letter arrived at the detective’s Italian branch stating that the Morello gang had arranged for his murder. Nobody knows the truth.
Petrosino was a beloved man and crime fighter. There have been numerous memorials, commemorations, awards and movies made!
Caruso was a world famous tenor with a huge personality. He was indeed in downtown San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake but due to the calm heroics of his valet, he managed to get dressed, exit the hotel to wait on the street below while his valet returned multiple times to pack up and remove all of Caruso’s trunks. The same valet then manages to source a horse and cart, which makes its way through the (now burning) city to the ferry where he proceeds to secure a boat to Oakland!
Yes, it’s redundant. His name means “wolf.” So his moniker was “Wolf, the wolf.” Still, it worked at the time.
Lupo really was married to Salvatrice, a sister of one of the other gang members, although I’m quite sure she didn’t get involved with any of his “businesses” vis-à-vis, burying of bodies, or casing potential victims. Still, it’s fiction, and I got another woman out of the house so… Yay!
Absolutely real, larger-than-life character.
Even if you know nothing of the banking industry, you’ve heard the name JP Morgan Chase.
Morgan had his hand in everything; steel, electricity, banking, politics, railroads, shipping, you-name-it. Like most businessmen, if he invested in something, he wanted a return. Tesla’s vision of sourcing cheap, or even free energy didn’t excite his investment bone, so he pulled his funding. It’s just the way of the world, but it’s a sad demonstration of what happens when scientific discovery is monetized. Tesla brought so many amazing, life-changing inventions into the world, it’s a crying shame to think of what he could have achieved if he had simply been able to “carry on.”
Genius, madman and, like Einstein, a vegetarian.
I initially fantasized about my girl Paige going back in history and meeting Edison, a suitably impressive and deeply entertaining individual. But in researching Edison I inevitably learned more about Nikola Tesla, after which, there was no question that he should be the scientific superhero she yearned to meet.
Having decided this, however, I found myself in a dilemma. Tesla was such an incredible human being that, if one were inclined toward crazy extraterrestrial theories, you might conclude
that he was from another planet. Descriptions from those who met, and knew him are of a man who was physically, intellectually and even
“energetic-ally” exceptional and astounding.
It felt almost sacrilegious to write words to be spoken by this semi-deity. Tesla had bright blue eyes, (some thought the unusually light color was a result of the incredible mental facilities burning so brightly behind them) but when Paige meets him in my story they are dark. That is the extra-fictionalized, human version of this surreal personality that I would have paid anything to have met myself!
I love Paige. She’s the kind of teenager I always wanted to be. You will note that she does not have a boyfriend. She had a boyfriend, briefly. I wrote her a “Love-Interest” because it is generally accepted that a “Love-Interest” is a necessary ingredient for the winning young-adult formula. He was pretty great too. Don’t let anybody tell you that romance can’t be sexy when you’re wearing neck-to-ankle silk. It was hot as hell. But I did it under duress. Because I wanted her to be an aspirational teenager, she needed to be above that whole boy-crazy thing. I wanted her to be all about her own self, you know? Who cares if the cute guy is looking at you? Who cares if you’re popular, pretty, or nice? I wanted her to be about what really counts. Is she honest – smart – strong - generous? Is she ambitious? Can she decipher what is important? Can she act when action is needed? I thought a “Love-Interest” would just get in her way. For now. Her handsome man is still lurking in the wings because, the reality is that even smart, strong women get to have romance too!