She couldn’t stop thinking about an article she read online about Coney Island baby incubators. So Addison Armstrong ’16 did what inspired writers do — she started writing.
This fall, the finished product — her debut historical fiction novel titled “The Light of Luna Park” — is getting nods from the New York Times Bestseller crowd. And the author and third-grade teacher, recently introduced her book during a live, virtual event at Parnassus bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee.
Armstrong said she was “starstruck” during her Parnassus event, which included an interview with New York Times Bestselling author Ariel Lawhon. “It was so wonderful to connect with another historical fiction author who’s experienced much of what I have – the research rabbit holes, the thin line between reinterpreting history and reinventing it, and the challenge of creating characters who are both authentic to their time and relatable to modern readers,” she said.
Armstrong explores the concept of unconditional love in her novel about the baby incubators designed and promoted by Dr. Martin Couney that were used as attractions at Coney Island at the turn of the century. In Armstrong’s novel, the protagonist, a nurse named Althea Anderson, kidnaps an infant girl named Margaret with the hopes of saving her life, doing—like Couney—the wrong thing for the right reasons, she said.
“I was fascinated by the sensationalism but also by the moral question at its center, as the man who ran the incubator wards was a conman with no medical license despite his claims to the contrary,” said Armstrong. “He saved thousands of babies’ lives without going through the proper channels, and I decided to have my main character Althea Anderson do the same.”
Armstrong said, more than just one thing, it was the “entire experience” at Saint Andrew’s that she continues to value. “Only after graduation from Saint Andrew’s did I realize how incredible and unique it is as a community. From classmates to classmates’ parents to teachers to alumni to staff, everyone rallies around each community member in times of need and in times of success,” she said.
The Saint Andrew’s School community will soon have an opportunity to discuss “The Light of Luna Park” with Armstrong. She will be a guest speaker for the Fall FOA Book Club series on Oct. 13.
Alumni Development Officer Victor Agapay said Armstrong also plans to speak during Chapel and exchange ideas with Upper School students sometime this school year.
“We are thrilled to welcome Addison to share her literary journey and process with our greater school community,” said Agapay, “Addison’s novel theme of unconditional love is so inspiring and indicative of the core values we embrace every day as Scots.”
To RSVP for the FOA Book Club featuring Armstrong’s “The Light of Luna Park, contact Dawn Weisz at email@example.com