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Portrait of Jonathan Vatner

Staff Writer

Jonathan Vatner

  • Communications and External Relations
  • Hue magazine

Carnegie Hill

Carnegie Hill is a belated-coming-of-age novel about sustaining a marriage—and knowing when to walk away. It chronicles the lives of wealthy New Yorkers and the staff who serve them, as they suffer together and rebound, struggle to free themselves from family entanglements, deceive each other out of love and weakness, and fumble their way to honesty.

Cover of Carnegie Hill

How did you first come up with the idea for this work?
I had a close friend who was on the board of his co-op in Carnegie Hill, on the Upper East Side. He told me innumerable stories about his neighbors and the board, and it occurred to me that an apartment building was a good setting for a novel.

What was your research process like?
I mostly spoke with experts on various topics: co-ops, building staff, the criminal justice system in New York, various illnesses and their treatments, psychotherapy, and more. I also read a lot of blogs by and about doormen.

What was the hardest thing about publishing this piece?
I had a very hard time with all the rejection from publishers before we found Thomas Dunne Books.

What did you learn?
So many things… but mostly, how to take and respond to feedback. I have heard many criticisms of my book, from other writers and the publishing industry. It was a challenge to absorb their criticisms without giving up on the project, and to decide which made sense for my book. Because I had never had a book published before, I may have erred on the side of using too much of the feedback I got. But I’m very proud of the end product.

What are you proudest of?
I’m proud that I committed to my dream of being a novelist. I wrote fiction for almost 20 years before I sold this book. I never considered giving up–there really was no plan B–but I did think I might never be published.

Does this publication relate to your work or teaching at FIT? If so, how?
I’m a writer at work, and this is a book, but beyond that, no.

  • Time to publication: 5 years
  • Staff writer at FIT since 2011