Most readers aren't going to give a shit how many words I am writing daily. That's the kind of stuff only other writers care about. And if you want to know the counts, just message me, I'll tell you privately. But it's still worth sharing with you the journey I take in creating my books, isn't it? That's why starting today, I'll be writing about some of the real-life places, events and people I am researching as I write 9 Lords of Night, my next thriller.
NOTE: Though these updates feature parts of my research, not all of these elements may make into the final published book.
The characters of 9 Lords of Night will be visiting the Somerset Hotel, a magnificent building from 1919 that still stands today in the historic Uptown neighborhood. (I wrote about Uptown in 2013 in 13 Secret Cities as the main characters attended a concert at the Aragon Ballroom.)
The Somerset Hotel launched at the height of Uptown's glory. Before Hollywood rose as the pinnacle of moviemaking in the United States, Uptown held a title as the movie nucleus. Most people can't imagine how this mixed-income neighborhood known for its theaters and music venues could have held so much prestige, but they should be imagining it.
For a deeper historical look at the hotel's early history, including information about its architect Samuel N. Crowen, please visit the excellent Jazz Age Chicago blog.
The Somerset was born into a decade of jazz, luxury and glamour, but as you will learn, it fell into new hands in the late 20th century. At one point, it housed hundreds of people as a sheltered care facility for senior citizens. Stories about its downturn are grim. At some point, the Somerset was housing inmates and the mentally ill along with the senior population. The facility was shut down in 2010 for myriad violations, and in the past six years, the building was re-zoned to allow for a developer to turn it into apartments.
This is the kind of deep history that resounds in Uptown. The Somerset is haunted by the luxurious, the decadent, the corrupt, and the ill. And now it has a chance for a new beginning, though history never forgets.
As I research further into the Somerset history, I can't help but to go deeper into the research. This week, I plan to walk over to the apartment building and ask its management company to let me tour the halls and the rooms. I need to see it for myself. Even if the site ends up as background in the novel, this is the sort of context that will give the manuscript solidity.
If you live in Chicago, I recommend you drive by the hotel and get brunch at Tweet, the restaurant across the street. I am amazed to see the gigantic structure revitalized this way. Just a few years ago it was nothing but a shell, a ghost of itself.
And with that, I now return to my manuscript for 9 Lords of Night. I'll share more updates as I run across more shiny objects in the dark. You will want to see admire their glow.
Do you like these updates? Become a patron of Author Cesar Torres for $1