“Wherever I go, stories discover me.” – Jessica Burdon
Jessica Burdon is my own version of a triple threat – gorgeous, well -travelled and verbose. This one-time-lawyer writes about art, fashion, culture, women, business, innovation, parties, food and travel.
She has penned stories for Beauticate (as well as turning up a stylish subject for her enviable and easy Manhattan style), UK Vogue, The Huff Post, The Daily Beast and Russh. She also recently launched Breaking Brazil, a stylish cultural website dedicated to the goings on of Brazil both inside and out. A must read!
With a book in the works, I chatted to Jess about her writing schedule, some favourite New York hotspots and what books we need to read next to get into a New York state of in mind.
Reviewed By Alina B: How did you segue from law into writing?
Jessica Burdon: I’d been writing on the sidelines for a long time, but it was hard to have creative energy after a hard day or week in the office; I needed to give the writing some real space to flourish.
You wrote a book – what’s your discipline?
Ironically I thank my time in law firms for my discipline when it comes to being creative. Lawyers are fastidious with words and they manage huge drafting tasks within tight deadlines. Still, writing a book has been above and beyond any challenge in my life to date. Sometimes I wonder how I opened my laptop for the tenth re-write. But the fact that I did (and without doubt!) made me realize there was a story brewing inside me about to boil over, rather than it being the vanity of wanting to have written a book.
What is a typical day like?
In some ways it isn’t too different to an office job – a lot of emails, tapping away at the laptop, phone calls, drafting. The difference is I can manage my own time. For instance if I have an event I can start early and wrap up early, or if a friend calls and is in need of some TLC, I can chat for as long as they need and make up for the lost time later on. I feel more human having that flexibility.
Of all cities, why New York?
I’d dreamed of New York since my university days – the perpetual pace, the stilettos, the brazenness, the sweltering summers, crowded dreams and lofty ambitions, but most of all the endlessly stimulating conversations. At law school that dream was wrapped up with working at the United Nations headquarters, but the reality took a different turn.
If you were to show me your New York, where would you take me?
To give you a literary tickle, I would have to show you my favorite boutique bookstore, McNally Jackson Books. Then the iconic New York Public Library, and lastly the Chelsea Hotel, which once housed so many great writers including Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Arthur Miller, William Dean Howells, and Patti Smith, to name just a few.
Now, for the books – what literary journey do you suggest to quench the New York wanderlust from our couch – and why?
There are so many books that distill the energy that is New York City. To understand the struggles and hope of early immigrants, I recommend ‘Brooklyn’ by Irish author Colm Tóibín. You can grasp New York’s gritty literary roots though Patti Smith’s wondrous tale, ‘Just Kids.’ The ultimate coming of age challenge to New York’s elitist private school system comes in the form of ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ a must read. Also try Michelle Miller’s soon to be released thriller, ‘The Underwriting,’ which prods at the fast-paced tech and startup scene that has recently captured the imagination of so many New Yorkers. And lastly, ‘Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York’ by Sari Botton lathers both the charm and madness of New York in equal measures. I could go on and on.