It has been a long time since the average struggling novelist could afford to live and work in downtown Manhattan.

Earlier this year, Lucy McIntyre, vice president of marketing for the Standard hotels, and Lorin Stein, editor of the literary magazine Paris Review, were lamenting this state of affairs—"what a fantasy it would be," Mr. Stein said, "to have the time and the means to just write in a hotel."

Ms. McIntyre, who runs the upscale hotels' culture programs, concocted an idea: a writer-in-residency program at the Standard's East Village hotel, located at Cooper Square.

The program, which kicks off in January, awards one novelist a free three-week stay at the hotel, with amenities such as housekeeping, breakfast, turndown service and most importantly, free refills on coffee, all of which would otherwise cost around $10,000.

 

 

Its first recipient is Lysley Tenorio, a 41-year-old San Francisco resident who teaches creative writing at Saint Mary's College of California. He is the author of the 2012 short-story collection, "Monstress," published by Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint.

His was one of more than 100 submissions that the hotel and the Paris Review received over the summer, after announcing the residency. The two organizations accepted submissions in any genre—fiction, nonfiction, histories and memoirs—only requiring that applicants have a contract with an established publisher to ensure they were committed to the project.

Mr. Stein, no stranger to writer submissions, spent a weekend in his East Village apartment sifting through proposals and half-written narratives. "It was really fun. I have to say that this field was incredibly diverse," he said.

After winnowing the stack down—"I was just looking for the top tier," he added—he passed a dozen finalists along to Ms. McIntyre. She selected Mr. Tenorio, who she described as an "original and sharp voice," as the winner.

"It was intriguing," Mr. Stein said of Mr. Tenorio's work. "I had seen his name here and there, but I had never paid close attention before."

For Mr. Tenorio, the win was especially good timing, because he had cleared his schedule in January to travel somewhere and work out some issues with a character in his coming novel. But he didn't have anywhere to go.

"A confined space, comfortable bed, desk, a window and unlimited coffee are the things I need to write well," he said. "A hotel is perfect. There are no dishes to worry about or people monologuing on the street like they do outside of my apartment." (Mr. Tenorio lives across the street from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.)

"I liked the idea of having one quiet room in a big building where no one knew who I was," Mr. Tenorio added. "I work so much better when I am tucked away from the rest of the world."

He is also no stranger to working in hotels, a fact that Ms. McIntyre found appealing in his proposal.

"If I have a deadline, I take a hotel here and there. I did one in Japantown in San Francisco and one in Sacramento, but I have never had three weeks, so this is too good to be true," Mr. Tenorio said.

"I just hope my room has a nice view," he said of his temporary home at the Standard. "I hear they have nice views."

Date of Mention 
Thursday, November 28, 2013
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