S.G. Browne

New York City is Superhero Central

Certain cities are synonymous with famous fictional characters.

London has Sherlock Holmes.
Philadelphia has Rocky Balboa.
Tokyo has Godzilla.

But when it comes to caped crusaders, New York City is superhero central.

NYC2The Fantastic Four live in New York City. So does Iron Man. Spider-Man grew up in Queens, Daredevil was raised in Hell’s Kitchen, and Captain America was born on the Lower East Side. Even Superman and Batman exist in fictional versions of The Big Apple.

So when I started writing Less Than Hero, my social satire about a group of clinical trial volunteers who test experimental pharmaceutical drugs and become C-level superheroes, there wasn’t any question about where the story would take place. In addition to its superhero pedigree, New York City has a definite energy to it that made it appealing as a setting for my novel.

While I live in San Francisco and have never called New York City home, I’ve had the pleasure of taking more than half a dozen trips there since 2008 and I would always take the time to sit down on a bench and take out my journal and try to capture specific New York moments.

Like the time I saw a living statue dressed up like a fairy in Central Park and wondered what it would be like to be her boyfriend. Or when I rode the Staten Island Ferry and listened to all of the foreign languages that sounded like a symphony of voices. Or when I sat on the steps of Union Square and watched people play chess at makeshift tables while a group of Hare Krishnas chanted nearby.

All of the above journal entries wound up as scenes in Less Than Hero.

While writing the novel, sometimes I would find myself wanting to set a scene in a certain park or location or restaurant that I may not have had a chance to visit when I was in New York. So I would search the Internet for photos and descriptions to help flesh out my scene and make sure the setting worked for what I had in mind.

deluxe food market2For instance, in Less Than Hero I have a scene that takes place in the Deluxe Food Market in Chinatown, just on the edge of Little Italy. I wanted a small, neighborhood grocery store somewhere in the Lower East Side / Chinatown area and did a search on Yelp! until I found the Deluxe Food Market.

I’d never set food inside the place, but the photographs and customer descriptions helped me to get a general sense of the smells and sounds and chaos of the place, which seemed perfect for what I wanted. So I used those details, along with my own imagination, to come up with the scene.

I also have a lunch scene in Chapter 11 that takes place in the East Village at an unnamed vegetarian restaurant.

Originally I’d written the scene as taking place at B&H Dairy, until I discovered that the interior layout of B&H was too small  for the scene as I’d imagined it. I went on Yelp! and found the Lan Cafe (now apparently closed), which had the right interior layout and location but the menu didn’t work with the dialogue I’d already written and wanted to keep. So I blended the two restaurants, using the interior and location of the Lan Cafe and the menu of B&H Dairy.

CEfnAERUEAAwVU_In addition to the Deluxe Food Market and the B&H Dairy/Lan Cafe, I have scenes that take place at Cafe Reggio, Curry in a Hurry, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Carnegie Deli, Stromboli’s Pizza, Starbucks, Westerly Natural Market, the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, the Staten Island Ferry, the Waldorf-Astoria, Union Square, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Tompkins Square Park, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Battery Park, various locations in Central Park, several different subway lines, and the steps of the New York Public Library.

While I’ve been to the majority of these places at one time or another during my visits to New York, I still conducted additional research using different websites, Yelp!, and Google Maps to help construct my scenes. Sometimes I took liberties with the details in order to make the scenes work the way I wanted, but novelists are allowed to to that. We are, after all, in the business of writing fiction. So every now and then, we have to tailor reality to fit our imagination.


Filed under: Less Than Hero,The Writing Life — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 6:57 am

Independent Bookstore Day

indiebookstoredayI’ll be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day (formerly CA Bookstore Day) this Saturday, May 2, at not one but TWO bookstores in San Francisco.

My first appearance will be at The Booksmith, where I’ll be participating in their Indie Bookstore Mad Tea Party from 12pm – 2pm with a slew of other guests. There will be tea leaf readings, art, and loads of activities. And books! Did I mention books?

After that, I’ll make my way across town to BookShop West Portal, where I’ll be doing a reading at 3pm sharp for about half an hour, then I’ll stick around until 5pm to help sell some of my favorite books by other authors. And hopefully a few of my own.

Relevant details are below. If you’re in the hood, stop on by for some laughs and maybe a book or two. Or three.

Independent Bookstore Day
Saturday, May 2

12pm – 2pm
The Booksmith
1644 Haight Street
San Francisco

3pm – 5pm
BookShop West Portal
80 West Portal Avenue
San Francisco

Filed under: Less Than Hero,Signings — S.G. Browne @ 6:55 am

San Diego and WonderCon Signings

San Diego and Southern California peeps, I’m heading down to San Diego for a signing of my new novel Less Than Hero at Mysterious Galaxy and to Anaheim for a panel and signing at WonderCon on Sunday. Hope to see you at one or the other.

April 3 – San Diego, CA
Book Signing and Reading
Mysterious Galaxy
5943 Balboa Ave., Suite #100
San Diego, CA

April 5 – Anaheim, CA
11:30am – 12:30pm (Panel – Room 210)
1:00pm – 2:00pm (Signing – Booth 908)
Anaheim Convention Center
Anaheim, CA

Filed under: Less Than Hero,Signings,WonderCon — S.G. Browne @ 7:08 am

Less Than Hero Giveaway

B82pUXECAAAKNl3To celebrate the upcoming release of my new novel, Less Than Hero ( my dark comedy and social satire about superheroes and pharmaceutical drugs), I’m holding a giveaway.

Several lucky winners will walk away with a signed copy of Less Than Hero. Well, I guess technically you won’t walk away with it because I’ll mail it to you, and even personalize or inscribe the novel if you’d like. The point is, you get something free. And who doesn’t like free?

How do you enter for your chance to win? You have several options.

  1. Share the link to this giveaway on your Facebook page or on your Twitter stream by using the links at the bottom of this post. (You can also do Google+ or Pinterest, whatever floats your boat.)
  2. OR you can copy and paste the Less Than Hero blurb below and share it with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers:

LESS THAN HERO: Defending your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of antidepressants. http://tinyurl.com/mzygcp8

(If you choose either one of the options above, please make sure to leave a comment on this post to let me know where you’ve shared; otherwise I won’t be able to enter your name in the contest.)

You can also enter the giveaway by doing one of the following:

  1. Share my Facebook posts about the giveaway, which you can find on my Facebook Author Page
  2. RT my tweets about the giveaway that I post on my Twitter Profile

Any questions? Good. Further details on the contest are below:

  • Multiple entries are allowed
  • Contest runs until Monday, March 16, 2015, at 11:59pm PST
  • Winners will be drawn randomly from the pool of entrants
  • Contest open only to residents of the United States (Sorry)

Thanks and good luck!

And the winners of the Less Than Hero giveaway, chosen by the mysterious Random Number Generator, are:

J. Kramin
C. Rickman
J. Roberts

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway and who Tweeted and shared on Facebook. You guys are all awesome.

Filed under: Contests,Less Than Hero,Novels — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 6:45 am

Portland and Seattle Area Signings

I’ve added a couple of Pacific Northwest signings for Less Than Hero in the Portland and Seattle areas. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by for punch and pie.

May 14 – Beaverton, OR
Book Signing and Reading
Powell’s Books – Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR

May 16 – Seattle, WA
Book Signing and Reading
Third Place Books – Ravenna
6504 20th Ave NE
Seattle, WA

Filed under: Less Than Hero,Signings — S.G. Browne @ 5:05 pm