More About Me and My Books
I was born in Ticonderoga, NY, but grew up in the small towns of Wilton, Hadley and Lake Luzerne, NY. I graduated from Hadley-Luzerne High School in 1995, then received a Liberal Arts degree from Adirondack Community College, Queensbury, NY. After living for almost ten years in the nearby city of Saratoga Springs, I moved to Ticonderoga in 2005. A year later I bought my first house here, not far from the family home that my grandfather built. So, I’ve always lived in or near the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park, where Stormwind of the North Country, Secrets in the North Country, and My Ten-Acre Wilderness take place.
Like the characters from most of my stories, I grew up in an ordinary working-class family, with parents who taught me to value the simple things in life. I was an only child until age fifteen. Though not rich, my childhood was filled with books, music, and pets, piano lessons and Girl Scouts, fishing trips and my first horse, a retired Standardbred pacer. My favorite times were the yearly week-long vacations at a remote campground near my grandparents' house in the Adirondack Mountains. Those trips were a treat that I looked forward to all year. I try to show that small-town lifestyle in my books.
I am single, with a chubby and spoiled yellow cat named Tom, and horse, Timmy, a white Appaloosa gelding.
Besides writing, my hobbies are reading, drawing and crafts, designing houses, gardening, and photography. During the summer I like to paddle my canoe on local creeks and lakes, sail my Snark sailboat, and go camping and hiking in a nearby wilderness area. I enjoy most types of music, and play the guitar and ukulele.
The story behind Stormwind of the North Country:
I began writing Stormwind of the North Country as a horse-crazy nine-year-old. It was just a simple short story about a girl who rescued a beautiful horse from its abusive owner. That short story grew to fill two tattered notebooks with missing covers and doodles in the margins. As a kid, I was so proud of that story: my first manuscript! Originally called Me, My Brother, and American Courage, (American Courage was the horse's name), and later You Can Call Me Kat, it turned out to be the earliest draft of "Stormwind." At the time, I had no idea that simple story would stick with me through my high school and college years, and beyond, as the story evolved and added new characters and situations. Over the years, later drafts filled more raggedy notebooks and loose-leaf papers, then moved on to typewriter-written pages and computer files.
Although all the people and events are fictional, writing “Stormwind” was a chance to revisit some favorite places of my childhood. I spent several of my pre-teen years living in a log cabin in the woods, along a winding mountain road frequented by logging trucks, like the road in the story. (You can read about it in My Ten-Acre Wilderness: A Misfit Girl's Quest for Home.) Kat's farmhouse, and the nearby cabin with the wild roses, were based on real places I'd admired when I went exploring up that road on my first horse, Sally. The fictional town of "Sprucewood" is based on the small towns where I grew up. And Kat and Randy's lean-to at the pond is just like the hundreds you find today, built all along the Adirondack hiking trails.
The story behind Matthias: The Ghost of Salvation Point:
Like Stormwind of the North Country and Secrets of the North Country, this book is based on a "long" short story I wrote when I was younger. It was originally called The Son of the Seafarer, and since it was a birthday gift for my dad, I attempted to write it as a serious "adult" story. Looking back at it years later, I realized that the writing was so bad that it was unintentionally humorous and melodramatic. When I decided to re-write it and turn it into a book in August 2013, I was shocked at how much work it needed! That was when I knew it didn’t work as an adult story; it was meant to be a book for kids.
In The Son of the Seafarer, the main character, Dylan Flint, was a 20-something man who buys a lighthouse as a gift for his wife. The ghost (known simply as "MacMurray" in the original story), didn't really do much, and in fact didn't even appear until the very end. Dylan could neither see nor talk to him. Sleeter and Quint, instead of being the treasure hunters that they are in the final book, were real-estate men who wanted to tear down the light station to build a tourist resort (too much like "Lavina" in Stormwind of the North Country.) So, I kept the basic idea and even some of the original conversations and scenes, but otherwise began a totally fresh and new story. It took over a year to write - MUCH longer than I thought. When I started writing it, I expected it would be maybe a 50-page novella, but it grew...AND GREW...into the almost 200 pages it is now.
Like the original story, Matthias was going to be a gift for my dad. He loved lighthouses and the ocean and was the one who had also gotten me interested in them when I was a teenager. He was also a very talented storyteller who could make up the best, scariest ghost stores - on the spot - during all of our family camping trips. However, he died unexpectedly before the book was finished.
After that, researching and writing this book took on more meaning for me. It turned out that writing it was like therapy for me as I dealt with his death, and it made me feel closer to him during that time. Since I was writing it in his memory, I considered it especially important to get the dialogue and storyline just right, as well as making sure that the facts about lighthouses were historically accurate. I consider this book a tribute to my dad, and I hope I did it justice.