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Christopher Herz Headshot

A True Interactive Connection

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Connection.

That's what this modern world of interactivity promises.

We take each spare moment to check in with our phones, seeing if there's a new message or a missed call. We might just be searching for a virtual touch of recognition that somebody out there is thinking of us.

That they are feeling us.

Something amazing happened to me this past month on the A train moving from Uptown to Downtown and back again. Armed with Laurie Fabiano's Elizabeth Street, a novel about her family's journey towards becoming part of America at the turn of the 20th century, I started my journey by reaching back into the past with her.

And I mean literally with her.

I had met Fabiano at her book launch party among the hanging meats and amazing cheeses of Di Palos's in Little Italy about a month ago. I bought a copy directly from her and started my adventure there - blocks away from the actual street where the story took place.

With each subway ride and opening of the book, I was making trips across the Atlantic, moving through Ellis Island, and then around those same narrow streets either battling the Black Hand or searching for healing powers in Chinatown.

I wasn't alone. Why?

Because I emailed Fabiano with each step of the journey that I took. I told her where I was with her characters. With their tragedies and with their joys. How I felt with every movement. I took a boat ride out to Ellis Island and retraced her characters steps as they tried to get into this country.

I even tried to duplicate some of the amazing dishes that were created in those small tenement apartments whose smells rose from the pages.

Then I wrote her and told her how each of those steps felt.

She started writing me back and the journey I was undergoing with her characters extended to her as an author. It was a true connection between the hand holding the pen that put those words down, the words, the reader, and the tale.

Many of us write so that we can have questions that haunt us deep inside answered by someone. Those words are put out there to the world and sometimes come back to us in the reflection of a review or by some kind words of a fan.

What every writer goes through in their personal archeological excavation of their deepest soul sometimes requires hearing the extended echoes of their own digging.

The emails I got back from Fabiano were so sincere and appreciative of the snapshots of my movement through her world, that we developed a connection that I'm sure inspired her to put more words down, and for me, ensured that I would buy her next book.

As the publishing industry struggles to find that balance between the digital world and the feel of actually handling a book, perhaps a look towards the emotional connection is the bridge.

Right now, while we all follow twitter feeds and become fans on Facebook, what might be getting lost is the fact that reading a book is an extremely intimate and personal experience. To give travel notes of the journey is a benefit to both writer and reader, and might just promise a relationship that can only grow with each trip taken together.

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