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Adventures in New York: A Guest post and A Free Book from S.W. Vaughn

Please welcome S.W. Vaughn, an author of a brutal psychological thriller which blew me away in 2011! My review is here.
____________________________________

Thanks so much for having me over today, Karina!

Back when I started writing the first book in the House Phoenix series, Broken Angel (which is free today on Amazon! Just sayin’…), I knew it had to be set in New York City. After all, I’d built the underground society to fit into the five-borough structure, with one division for each borough. NYC is a huge place, and it’s perfect for hiding secrets.

Unfortunately, even though I live in New York State, I’m six hours away from the city—and at that point, I’d never been there. I could look at pictures and read books about NYC, but I didn’t feel like I could really capture the atmosphere in writing without experiencing it.

Then I got lucky. The magazine I write for invited me to work at their bi-annual summit—which happens to be held in the heart of Manhattan. I’d not only get to visit New York on an all-expenses-paid trip…I was also going to get paid to be there!

That first trip down, I spent my free time exploring as far as possible. There were a lot of things that surprised me—okay, everything surprised me. But as I poked around the Big Apple, I recorded my own impressions, and also tried to see things the way my characters would.

Here are some of the things I saw through my eyes, and then from my characters’ point of view.

First impressions

Me: I’m getting off the train at Penn Station, and I’m actually underground. This tunnel thing goes on forever. There’s about a hundred staircases, escalators, and elevators in both directions from this platform. I grab the first escalator, thinking even though I’ve never been here before, it’ll be easy enough. The hotel I’m going to is right across the street from here.

Only it’s not easy, because I can’t find the street. The station is a huge, complicated maze of stores and hallways and boarding platforms, and every time I try to follow a sign that promises to bring me out to a street—I’ll take any street at this point—I end up making half a dozen turns and running out of signs. How can it be so big?

It takes me twenty minutes to find a door with daylight beyond it. And then, when I step outside, I can’t move. My God. “Big” just isn’t…big enough to describe it. How can there be this much…everything?

But I get used to it pretty fast, and soon I’m plowing through the crowds like a native instead of staring up at the tops of the buildings with my mouth open, waiting for pigeons to drop something in.


Gabriel: Goddamn it, this is impossible. I’m never going to find her. This is just a couple of blocks of Manhattan. There’s miles more, one huge borough—and then there’s four more of those. Why are there so many damned places here? And this is just the street level. Not counting everything underground. I might as well jump off the Empire State Building right now—hell, it’s just down the street there.

The subway


Me: Um, where does it say what train stops where? Wait. This isn’t even where you get on them. I still have to go through that turnstile thing, and down more stairs. Okay, so this is a station, I think. I remember it kind of looked like this in Ghost, only there’s a lot more people here. There’s a train coming – am I supposed to get on that one? What happens if I miss my stop? I’m not even sure what my stop is. Oh, good, announcements! I’ll just…I can’t understand a word that guy is saying! Maybe everybody else was right. I should just take a cab.

Doc: What a surprise. The L-train’s late again. Screw it, I’ll walk.

Times Square


Me: Holy s**t! It’s the middle of the night, and it’s as bright as day! I’ve seen Times Square on TV every New Year, but it doesn’t look like this. It’s like nighttime isn’t allowed here. Oh my God that man is walking around naked. Wait, he’s wearing a hat, and boots…and a strategically placed guitar. It says “The Naked Cowboy.” That is one brave man.

Jenner: Get out of my way. And do not sing to me, or I will slit your throat with your own guitar strings.


I had a great time in New York, and I’ve gone back twice a year to work at the summit and keep exploring. It really is a fascinating place—and I hope I’ve captured the essence of the city in the House Phoenix series.

Get your copy of Broken Angel free from Amazon UK/US



Broken Angel

No rules. No limits. No escape.

Gabriel Morgan is looking for a secret society, known only by a symbol -- a five-colored star. Rumors whispered through the New York City underground speak of drugs, deadly deals, and high-class prostitution. But the society's main draw is a vicious blood sport fought in a ring with no rules, where millions change hands at every match.

Their fighters are legendary, their leaders cold and ruthless. They are impossible to find, unless you already know where they are.

And they have Gabriel's sister.

But when he finally hunts down the leader of the society's Manhattan division, the nightmare is just beginning -- Gabriel is taken prisoner along with his sister and forced to fight for her freedom. He is branded with ink, broken and trained by the best of their fighters, and must accept a new identity along with a new name.

Gabriel Morgan is Angel.

And in the ring, he'll do anything to win . . . because the price for losing is his sister's life.

Free through March 9 on your favorite Amazon store, wherever in the world you are.

You can also learn more about the House Phoenix series and read long excerpts from each book on my website.

 S.W. Vaughn is a pioneer of street fighting fiction, author of violence with plots. If you cut me, I bleed coffee. I don’t wear socks.
You might know me as Sonya Bateman.

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