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Guest blogger: Liz Harris

18 June 2017

Curiosity—a writer’s friend

A writer without curiosity is like a lock without a key.

Our curiosity about the world around us, the people we encounter, those we know and those we don’t know, the possibilities that lie beneath the surface of what we’re told, what we read, what we can see for ourselves—this is the fuel for our novels. It will lead us to the central plot and characters, and in the name of research, will provide the flesh that covers our skeletal ideas.

My curiosity came into play in New York, from where I’ve just returned. I went there to research a story line in the first of a multi-generational saga that I’m writing. On my final Sunday afternoon, having seen everything I’d planned to see, my friend asked if I’d like to go to the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art or the Frick Collection.

Hmm, I said. I’d like to go to Trump Tower.

I realise that I’ve just slid to the bottom of the cultural scale, but I was curious to see the outside of the New York residence of a man whose taste ranges from gaudiness to bling. I’m assuming that some of you will be curious about it, too, so I’m going to share my photos with you.

I wasn’t the only person who wanted a photo taken in front of the entrance. Many had friends, as I did, standing behind the railing, snapping away.

To my amazement, we were able to go inside and up to the first floor, so in I went.

Having had a problem getting wifi where I was staying, I’d frequented many a New York Starbucks in order to access the internet, so was very familiar with its sign. I had expected tight security when I stepped across the threshold, but there was none. I had not expected the word STARBUCKS to be the first thing I saw when I entered the building, but it was.

Starbucks was accessed by going up an elevator, which overlooked tables in a large cafeteria, backed by a gold-coloured back wall down which ribbons of water ran.

Looking down at the entrance from my cramped seat in the worst Starbucks I’d been in during my visit, owing to its limited seating and lack of any charm or character, I saw that the security guards were in place.

Lest you think Trump was showing an unexpected modesty in allowing the name of Starbucks to dominate the lower part of Trump Tower, not so. Everywhere I turned, there was another name in prominence. See if you can spot the common denominator in the following three photos.

Before leaving the building, I decided to indulge my curiosity in one last area—the ladies’ loos. Having seen some amazing loos during my travels over the years, I thought that the Trump ladies’ loos were bound to be something golden, flower-bedecked and very special. But was I disappointed!

How boring, I thought, and left the building. Curiosity quenched, minutes later I was indulging in a non-Trump ice cream.

I’m giving away an ecopy of The Art of Deception, a light contemporary novel set in Umbria. All ARRA members who leave a comment on this post will go into the draw to win the book. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Rae C.)

You can find Liz here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Art of Deception

Jenny O’Connor can hardly believe her luck when she’s hired to teach summer art classes in Italy. Whilst the prospect of sun, sightseeing and Italian food is hard to resist, Jenny’s far more interested in her soon-to-be boss, Max Castanien. She’s blamed him for a family tragedy for as long as she can remember and now she wants answers.

But as the summer draws on and she spends more time with Max, she starts to learn first hand that there’s a fine line between love and hate.


  1. 23 June 2017 7:22 pm

    My computer has been melting all week as we in the UK wilted beneath amazingly high temperatures – it’s been the hottest June for 41 years! Now that things have cooled, and my computer is solid again, may I thank you, ARRA, for allowing me to speak to my friends in Australia?

    I regularly look back with affection to my visit to Sydney two years ago when my son married an Australian girl, thereby giving me another truly perfect daughter-in-law. I loved Sydney and the little that I saw of Australia, and I can’t wait to go again.

  2. 22 June 2017 9:36 am

    Isn’t it funny that sometimes our curiosity leads us to somewhere amazing and other times pretty ordinary. I think, from your descriptions, that Trump tower reflects the man. He puts on a big show but inside he’s just a man. A bit like the toilets! ha ha.

    • 23 June 2017 7:07 pm

      Absolutely, Cassandra. And it’s the worse elements of man that one finds within him – like the ladies’ loos! 🙂

  3. 20 June 2017 7:02 pm

    I visited Trump Tower early last year, Liz – before Trump was elected president – and was amazed to be able to enter without any form of security. I’m even more astonished to learn from your post that that’s still the case! A multi-generational saga set in New York sounds fun to write – and will make a great read. Good luck!

    • 23 June 2017 7:10 pm

      I noticed, when looking down from Starbucks, Rae, that the guards had started to search the bags of people entering, but I thought it very strange that I and my satchel-bag were able to enter unchallenged, and that there was no one around. There was more security getting into the small museums I visited!

  4. angelabritnell permalink
    19 June 2017 12:52 am

    Interesting – thanks for sharing! Love the non-traditional tourist spots best and this one’s certainly that

    • 23 June 2017 7:12 pm

      It certainly was a highly enjoyable non-cultural moment in a rather more cultural week, Angela. I was lucky enough to get tickets for Der Rosenkavalier at the New York Met, seeing Renee Fleming in her penultimate performance as Michelin. From the sublime …

  5. 18 June 2017 12:16 pm

    Hi Liz. That was a fun read. DT probably never sees the foyer – surely he’d have a helipad or something up there. I began to think as I read that the building would likely be quite a target for acts of terrorism (or civil uprising). I don’t think I’d be game to go there. I saw enough of that place when I watched an episode of The Apprentice years ago. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Anyway, what a fun time – travelling to research your next book. All the best. Jay.

    • 23 June 2017 7:14 pm

      I’m sure it will be a target, Jay, but so many places are now that nowhere is safe these days. Also, I would have thought that the man himself would have been a greater target, and he isn’t often at home in New York these days – he’s more often to be found in Florida!

  6. shelleyrussellnolan permalink
    18 June 2017 11:38 am

    ‘The Art of Deception’ sounds like an interesting read. I love enemies to lovers stories. Your trip to Trump Tower also sounds interesting, Seems it is more show than substance, kind of like the man himself.

    • 23 June 2017 7:17 pm

      Many thanks for your kind comment, Shelley. I certainly enjoyed writing it, as I did with Evie Undercover, which is also set in Umbria – it takes place in and around the Umbrian house to which I’m going next week. Umbria is such a glorious location that I’m tempted to set a third novel there. As I lie by the pool next week, I shall be thinking of storylines. I agree totally with your summing up of Trump!

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