On a rainy Friday night at the in Larchmont, author Caroline Bock read passages from her new Young Adult book, "Lie". The book chronicles the aftereffects of a hate crime in a suburban community more accustomed to dealing with petty crime than murder cases. Based on true events, the book parallels the November 2008 murder of Marcelo Lucero, a 37-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant, in Patchogue, NY, who was stabbed by the then 17-year-old Jeffrey Conroy because of his ethnicity.
Patch sat down with Bock to discuss the book’s relevance to diverse communities in Westchester.
Larchmont Patch: How close do you live to where the real crime took place?
Caroline Bock: This incident happened about 20 minutes away. The idea of the haves and have nots... the South End of New Rochelle is a different world from [the North End], yet they are next door... is a big issue in our society. But when it turns into a hate crime, I said, ‘Somebody is going to write a novel about this story,’ then I thought that it could be me. One night it went too far. I thought how could it happen where I live? Similar incidents happened in Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, California. So this book is about race, a hate crime, and it is about a group of teens and their community who decide what to do after the crime has been committed. There are 10 voices in the book, with two main characters.
Larchmont Patch: How are these issues [discussed in the book] relevant to the Hispanic community?
Bock: With the Long Island incident, the entire high school community knew to an extent what was going on, and nobody came forward. One character in the book is here as an undocumented alien and one is a citizen. Nobody asked them for identification papers. The hate crimes occurred just because they are Hispanic. Just because of the color of their skin. The takeaway, especially for young people, is to question on your own for what you believe is right, and to speak out. The book doesn’t moralize. None of the characters in the book know the answers. You have to have the courage to speak out. In the book, not all characters had the courage to do that.
Larchmont Patch: How long did it take you to write the book?
Bock: I wrote the first draft in 6-8 weeks, and it was a mess. And, really not until I gave myself permission to write ten different voices, which broke a lot of rules on novel writing. I worked in cable at the time, in a very high-pressure job. I think part of the challenge of being a writer is to slow down a lot, in your own head, and to focus on the word, on the sentence, on the paragraph. It is a whole different mindset that you have to learn. You have to think different to be a writer.
Larchmont Patch: Did growing up in New Rochelle influence your writing at all?
Bock: I grew up from age four in New Rochelle and graduated New Rochelle High School Class of 1980. Yes, it did. I think that I was blessed that I was in a very diverse community. I had friends who were of all races, colors, creeds. My best friend in high school was black. I found a really liberal, progressive, wonderful place. I then moved to Long Island and had a very different experience. In some ways, a very eye-opening one. As I say in the book, every town in Long Island wants to be its own island.
Larchmont Patch: Do you think these issues [in the book] are pertinent for the Hispanic community residing in the Mamaroneck/New Rochelle area?
Bock: I think it is because the whole tri-state area is demographically changing. It is not a secret that there are more Hispanics here. They tend to live on the outskirts of a community, and they tend to be invisible to a large extent.
For more information, please visit the book's website here.