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September 1, 2010

Jessica Verday: Setting the Scene --- The Real Sleepy Hollow

Posted by jordana

Jessica Verday's second novel in the The Hallow Trilogy, THE HAUNTED, continues the series as a it weaves a new tale with the stuff of legend...The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, to be precise. Here, she tells Teenreads about the real town behind the myth.

Setting the Scene: The Real Sleepy Hollow

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There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.” – Washington Irving
 
The most exciting part about writing THE HOLLOW and THE HAUNTED was being able to research the setting in person. My first time in Sleepy Hollow, NY, I took a dozen single-use cameras and used every one of them. The legacy of Washington Irving is everywhere. From the image of The Headless Horseman on street signs, to the headless silhouettes painted on shop windows and restaurants, even down to the recycling bins - a Headless Horseman logo is there too - you can tell that this town loves the rich history and ties it has to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It wasn’t hard to picture my heroine living in, and loving, a town like this.
 
When I came to the gorgeous and gothic Sleepy Hollow cemetery, I knew that I had found Abbey’s sanctuary. I took real life elements, like the empty chair that Abbey sits in on the day of Kristen’s funeral, and the tree with carved initials in Washington Irving’s plot, and added them to THE HOLLOW. I wanted Abbey’s world to feel as real as it actually was. It was my goal to bring that piece of Sleepy Hollow to each reader.
 
I found the town around the cemetery to be equally as enticing. A restaurant, not far from the Old Dutch Church, made it into THE HOLLOW. I renamed it The Horseman’s Haunt, but the real life Horseman Restaurant & Pizza is a great place to stop for a diner experience. The walls are covered in memorabilia including an amazing mirror display adorned with the Headless Hessian himself.
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Another real life location that made it into THE HOLLOW was the Warner Public Library. Fromt
he intricately carved massive door that stands guard to the entrance, to the unique floor plan, I knew that this beautiful building would have to play an important role in the book. I didn’t know what kind of role it would play though, until I went upstairs and found a “quiet time” research room. It would become the place for Abbey and Caspian to share their first kiss.

If The Hollow Trilogy has atmosphere, it’s because the real life town of Sleepy Hollow abounds with it. Walking the streets was like walking around in Abbey’s shoes. I could see the town like she sees it, and I love it almost as much as she does.   

--- Jessica Verday