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Building the Perfect Villain: The Bad Entrepreneur

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More maybe than most, Megan Abbott knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men (and women too). This explains Ms Abbott’s ability to conjure up the perfect villain – ahem, an entrepreneur – in her latest detective story, the ballet-centric thriller, “The Turnout,” which will be released on August 3.

Let the record show that Ms. Abbott, 49, also author of “Dare Me”, “You Will Know Me” and “Take My Hand”, was not writing from personal experience.

Seventeen years ago, when she and her then-husband Josh Gaylord, also a novelist, bought a junior four in Forest Hills, Queens, they were completing their doctorates. programs and had anemic bank accounts to prove it. The kitchen, which had been renovated inexpensively for a long time, would have benefited greatly from an intervention, and the floors needed repainting. But serious home improvement would have to wait. (He’s still waiting.)

“We were young and stupid, and what we were doing was mostly cosmetic,” Ms. Abbott said. She and Mr. Gaylord replaced a strip of cigarette smoke infused gold spun brocade wallpaper with a much more subdued silver strip and did some paint. But they left plenty of room for anything that would have required the presence of an entrepreneur.

“They tell you, ‘write down what you’re afraid of,” Ms Abbott said, with a smile.



Occupation: Novelist

This is theft : “In the 90s it was very common for your apartment to be broken into. In Hell’s Kitchen, the lock on my building door never worked. This is the first place I lived in New York where I was not robbed.


“For a writer, the entrepreneur-client relationship is full of possibilities,” she said. “I’ve known people whose renovations lasted a year or more; the entrepreneur has disappeared. And I know entrepreneurs who couldn’t convince people to pay them. This is the other side.

“Oddly,” she added, “one of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching” The Real Housewives of New Jersey, “and there are a few entrepreneurs on this show, and they never seem to get the job done. . It’s kind of like a fairy tale or a vampire thing. Once you let the entrepreneur in… “

Ms Abbott left the Detroit area in 1994 to pursue graduate studies at New York University, renting first in Park Slope, Brooklyn, then Hell’s Kitchen, where there were holes in the ground and vagrants. in the hall.

“I liked it a bit,” she said. “I was from Grosse Pointe, so it had a great bohemian vibe. But there is a certain point in your life when you think it would be nice to live in a place that doesn’t require you to step over broken 40-ounce beer bottles.

Buying a seat in Forest Hills was a mixture of randomness and counterintuitive. Friends of Mr Gaylord had grown up there and the couple decided to take a look around. “No one was going from Manhattan to Queens at that time. It was the opposite direction, so it was a good time to enter that market, and it was a good deal,” Ms Abbott said of the comment. 1,000 square foot L-shaped space.

A good deal, perhaps, as it overlooked the Long Island Rail Road. Double glazed windows were a must.

Still, the apartment was charming, full of built-in mahogany bookcases, courtesy of the previous owner, a carpenter. And Mrs Abbott was charmed by the original 1950s bathroom. “I’m probably the only person in the building who hasn’t ripped it off,” she said. “I like the old-fashioned quality.”

She was a little early in making the apartment a celebration of mid-century modernity. “Not Eames,” Mrs. Abbott clarified, “but an ordinary mid-century modern person.”

A year after moving into the apartment, her grandparents began to downsize and Mrs. Abbott became the heir to a classic 1950s coffee table and two-tier side table, all two inlaid with tiles. These pieces of furniture matched perfectly with the Russel Wright tableware (a wedding present from Mrs Abbott’s parents) and with the chalk cache – plaster of Paris figurines and wall hangings which were handed out as prizes at carnivals and became a popular setting during the post-war period. time. For what it’s worth, they’re heavy enough to be murder weapons.

“My dad collected them, so I started collecting them, and we gave them to each other as gifts. He passed away a few years ago, so I took some of the pieces I gave him, ”said Ms Abbott, whose possessions include a Shirley Temple, a Snow White, a cowboy and a snow horn. abundance of brightly colored fruit.

Figures of mid-century modern flamenco and ballet dancers hang on the living room wall. “I see them as bohemian artistic energy for a 1950s Long Island family,” she said. “I’ve always loved the ballerina fantasy in pop culture – that perfect, pristine thing – so I often end up with tchotchkes that have the ballerina vibe. Obviously, ‘The Turnout’ has been taking a long time. come.

A frequent topic of discussion during psychotherapy sessions, Ms Abbott said, is her financial mistrust. She was a writer and story writer on the HBO series “The Deuce”; a creator of the USA Network series “Dare Me,” an adaptation of her 2012 mystery about a ruthless team of cheerleaders; and she is developing “The Turnout” in a limited series. But success did not go to his head, nor to his apartment.

“I’ve never been the type to say, ‘Oh, there’s this fabulous $ 5,000 sofa that I want.’ It was never really about it for me, ”she said. “But I’m an addicted collector. And I felt more free, after doing a few TV shows, to bid high and get some special books.

Among them are the first editions of “The Moth” and “The Butterfly” by James M. Cain; a first edition of Daphné du Maurier’s underrated thriller “My Cousin Rachel”, and first edition pulp fiction trains like “Moi, le jury” by Mickey Spillane.

“Some of them are pretty obscure,” Ms. Abbott said. “But if they have an interesting cover or a great title like ‘The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope’…. ‘”

An original poster in Spanish for “Some Like It Hot”, one of his favorite films, was also kind of madness. It hangs over his desk. Do whatever you want with it.

Crowded shelves above the computer frequently change payloads. “These are things to watch to stimulate my imagination,” she said.

Right now there are a few mannequin hands (maybe the start of another collection), tarot cards, bone dice, a few ballerina figurines, a “Nutcracker” soldier, a Victorian eye. and side by side statues of Saint Francis of Assisi and Sigmund Freud.

“The patron saint of writing,” Ms. Abbott said. “Dr. Freud.”

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