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Co-op City native features borough in novel

Bronx Times
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A Co-op City native has featured locations in Pelham Bay and Hunts Point in his first published science fiction fantasy novel called Awakenings.

The novel is authored by Edward Lazellari, a writer, illustrator, and graphic artist who was born on Sherman Avenue and spent more than 20 years as a resident in Co-op City from 1970 to the early 1990s.

Cal MacDonnell, a happily-married New York City cop who is renovating a three-family house on Mayflower Avenue in Pelham Bay and working in the 41st Precinct in Hunts Point, is one of the heroes of Awakenings, which is being published by A Tor.

The plot of the novel, which is the first in a three-part series, has MacDonnell and another protagonist protecting a young prince from an alternate universe from being destroyed by the forces of evil.

“The cop Cal needed to live in a middle class or working class neighborho­od,” Lazellari said.

“I am more intimate with the Bronx than I am with Brooklyn or Queens, and I had the confidence that if I set some of the story in the Bronx, I would know where to place it.”

Lazellari said he has strong ties to the Bronx. He based the setting of Cal’s home on the Mayflower Avenue apartment that his sister and her husband shared shortly after they were married, the Pelham Bay home of his sister’s godparents, as well the experiences of friends who are police officers in the borough. His mother still lives in Co-op City.

“The decision to feature the Bronx was a very deliberate decision,” Lazellari said. “I can write the Bronx more realistically, because I lived for years in Co-op City and have visited every corner of the borough at one point or another during my lifetime.”

He also worked into the book the summer he spent working at a concession stand at Orchard Beach, and other experiences he had while growing up, he said.

Lazellari is a graduate of Truman High School and Rutgers University.

In 1999, Lazellari’s short story “The Date” was published in Playboy Magazine’s fiction issue, and he worked for years at Marvel Comics prior to his current role at a major financial services media company.

The novel was written in spurts throughout the 1990s, and after his college graduation, a more polished draft was completed in 2003.

Awakenings was then revised again several times before it, and two follow-up novels, were finally sold.

For further information about Edward Lazellari and Awakenings, visit his website at edwardlazellari.com.

The book is available in hardcover.

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