Cecily von Ziegesar is the author of Cobble Hill; Cum Laude; Dark Horses; and the best-selling Gossip Girl book series, the basis for the hit TV show. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
The city itself is just as much a character in my books as the people. It’s been eighteen years since Gossip Girl, my first book, was published. Many people have told me recently that they’ve been rereading the books and rewatching the show because they needed a reminder of the city at its best. I grew up in Manhattan and now live in Brooklyn. I’ve lived in other places, but I love New York—it’s very much home. I’m finding that I appreciate different things about it as I go through different stages of my life. My daughter was born the same year Gossip Girl was first published. I remember those first weeks of having a newborn in the city in winter, bundling her inside my coat, and just by leaving my building and going for a short walk around my neighborhood, amidst the hustle and bustle, I felt like I was still a part of the thriving city. I have since raised two children here, well into teenagerhood. Our neighborhood of Brooklyn is called Cobble Hill. It’s a great place to grow up because it’s like a small town within the big city; it’s also the perfect setting for a book.
Gossip Girl is about privileged private–high school seniors on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, falling in and out of love, behaving badly, and gossiping mercilessly about one another. It has been called a “social satire.” Cobble Hill is somewhat different. The main characters are adults, but it’s still very much about yearning, flirting, wondering where we fit in in the social hierarchy, and behaving badly. I’m not sure how much we change between teenagerhood and adulthood. Cobble Hill explores the humor therein.
When I write about New York I return again and again to the New York stories that molded me as a writer. I reread snippets of them or get swept up and reread the whole thing. Here are seven of my favorites.