Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Love Letter to Cleveland

No matter how I do this, it isn’t going to come out right. You’re going to think I hate Cleveland. But that’s not exactly true. I think of it, mostly, with fondness.

That said, let’s get the jokes out of the way first. Here are two, mostly safe for work, videos that you have to watch. I promise it’ll take two minutes of your time.

So that’s Cleveland in a very tiny nutshell.

Next year I’ll publish the first two books in the Casey Cort series, Qualified Immunity, and Under Color of Law which take place in the early part of this century.

When I started to write my first book (why my first book is coming out last is another entire blog post), I had only left Cleveland and it was fresh in my mind. The post industrial city had a lot of qualities that make it an excellent character. As you may have noticed from the videos above, the city suffers from economic depression, gray, gray weather, and a lacking sense of humor.

But my books take place in the past, so I’m writing about a city that doesn’t exist anymore. For better or worse, it has moved on. And what was true in 2003 isn’t true today. I’m doing my best to stick with my vision of the city as it was then. But we all view places through different lenses and I worry that the corruption and damaged legal system my heroine faces will come across like I’m setting the Cuyahoga river on fire a second time. But that’s not the case. It’s sort of like writing about the 1970s in New York City. It was a lot awful, but it was a little great, too.

Did I like going to economic summits on the city's problem of hemorrhaging college graduates? No. Did I like watching news reports of elected officials going to jail? Not really.

But I did I love going to the art museum and seeing Lucy at the Museum of Natural History? Absolutely. The best art exhibit and best play I’ve ever seen happened right there at the Cleveland Playhouse.

In fact, Casey Cort is one of my favorite heroines, a little heavy, a little plucky, a lot of fun—to write. She’s facing her thirties and it’s an uphill battle. Cleveland is the perfect setting for a book with a heroine seeking redemption. Little victories are more rewarding when you have to lean against a stiff Lake Erie wind to get them.

Sylvie Fox is the author of The Good Enough Husband, another book about a heroine in dire need of redemption. But at least this one's mostly set in sunny Southern California.


  1. Sylvia, I had so much fun watching those videos, particularly the second one - "Who the f*** still uses a payphone???" - that it took me a while to settle down afterward. Great post - the new books sound terrific.

    1. Lauren,

      The videos ticked me as well. I watched them a few zillion times yesterday. I hadn't seen them since they came out about five years ago. Can I say they weren't popular with my friends from Cleveland especially after they were featured in the New York Times and went 'viral.'

      There was a little anger (or a LOT) about them. Secretly a few people did tell me they found them funny. But in public, it was popular to be outraged.


  2. Wonderful post, Sylvie, for SO many reasons! I really enjoyed it! But mostly I'm going to enjoy sharing it with my boss, an intellectual from Cleveland, and we never let him forget it! Bravo!!

  3. Laura,

    Glad you enjoyed it. Hope it makes your boss smile, at least a little.


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