Karen Abbott is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, an exploration of the role of brothels in the cultural and political life of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Prior to publishing Sin in the Second City – which took her three years to write and research – Abbott worked for Philadelphia magazine and for Philadelphia Weekly. Abbott, a native of Philadelphia, received her BA from Villanova University in 1995. The critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City tells the story of Chicago’s Everleigh Club, a famous high-end whorehouse that was known as the “finest brothel in the land.” Abbott lives with her husband in Atlanta and is working on her second book, a portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee and Depression-era New York.
You know I think . . . You know I hit it a lot. The fortunate thing when you’re doing non-fiction and researching history is there is always work to be done even if you’re not getting words on the page. You know I spent hours and hours in front of microfilm and just thinking about these people. Sort of even if, you know, you weren’t constructing the story at that time, they were always in your head or you were thinking about what they were going to do next. Or you were . . . You were connecting dots with a character. Or you were able to discover an incident that you didn’t know had; or a great quote that you hadn’t seen before. So if you didn’t feel like . . . If I didn’t feel like writing I could still get some work done, which was a good way to trick my mind into thinking I was still okay with my deadline.
Recorded On: 1/22/08