AGE OF ORDER: The Dystopian Thriller Inspired By Life in New York City
by Author Julian North
My wife and I aren’t from New York. When came here, we promised ourselves that there were some “New York City Things” we would never do. For example, if we were going to live here, we would live here all the time. August included. No need to spend a month elsewhere. And no private school. That’s crazy—we pay city and state taxes for schools. Then we had kids.
For those of you who don’t know: kids are crazy. Also, they drive you crazy (if you weren’t already), and they make you do things your former self would have never considered. Like paying for school when there’s a great one two blocks away. But we thought a smaller setting might benefit one of our kids. So, we tried to keep an open mind. It’s for them, we told ourselves.
We weren’t prepared for what we experienced. We were shocked by the judgment and competition associated with placing young children in particular schools. How do you evaluate a three-year old? Or expect a five-year old to sit for a written exam? First choice letters? Do I know a trustee? Sibling preference? Why do the other eight people in this room already know each other… and the admissions director? Why am I even here? Well, because the public schools weren’t being overly helpful either.
I had many difficult days during that long fall. I had conversations that caused me to pinch myself mid-sentence. I ground my teeth a lot. And I started writing about it.
I’d wanted to be a writer since I could grab a pencil (remember those?). But life just got in the way. Still, I always wrote. I just rarely finished manuscripts. When I did, the audience was limited to close friends and family. I hadn’t written anything I wanted people to read. But Age of Order was different. At first I was just writing about emotion. Those feelings became dialogue, and from the dialogue grew the characters. Many of them turned out to be high school students–gifted ones–many from elite backgrounds. Others were not so fortunate. Some characters were better human beings than others, but all of them were flawed, as we all are. Over about four months, their story unfolded and became Age of Order.
By the end, my children were settled in their new schools, and I had book about some very special people attending an unusual private school on the UES in a very dystopian future. I felt a bit better about life. The book has dark places, but also hope. So, the next time you are grinding your own teeth on the UES, might I suggest you try writing about it? Or check out Age of Order at Amazon or my website www.juliannorth.com.
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