I'm delighted to be writing my first Inkspot post and proud to be in such wonderful company.
My Midnight Ink series -- Janet's Planet -- is set in New York State's Hudson Valley and I think of the valley as being a character in the books. It's a unique place and I thought I’d give readers a quick overview.
The valley – which stretches about 140 miles from New York City due north to Albany – has a fascinating history. It was home to the Mahican and Munsee tribes before the first Europeans, the Dutch, settled there in the early 1600s. I sometimes forget how fast and easy water travel was before roads were built (hacking through a mile of dense forest was a lot of work). The Hudson River became the thrilling heartbeat of the New World’s commerce, culture and warfare.
During the Revolutionary War, the good guys strung a huge armor chain mesh across the Hudson Highlands – the river’s narrowest point just north of West Point -- to stop British warships. In the 19th century the Hudson Valley was the place to be – many of the America’s richest families built mansions along its banks and the Hudson River School of painting dazzled the country and the world. In 1825 the completion of the Erie Canal – which linked the Hudson to the Great Lakes – turned the valley into an economic powerhouse.
Today the Hudson Valley is in a great transition. It went into economic decline in the mid-to-late 20th century but it has been rediscovered big time and today it’s New York’s fastest growing region. It is a fabulously diverse place, home to inner-city slums and incredible wealth, filled with organic farms, vineyards, world-class museums, historic mansions, fabulous hiking and kayaking, amazing restaurants (it’s home to the Culinary Institute of America and many grads stay in the area and open restaurants), extraordinary beauty, palpable history, evocative lighthouses (check out this one, which is also a B&B: saugertieslighthouse.com/logbook/), amazing architecture.
What really makes the valley special are the people. It’s filled with artists, entrepreneurs, low-lifes, bon vivants, people of all ethnicities and religions, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays. There’s also corruption, intrigue and, of course, murder. It’s a delicious stew, always simmering.
In other news, here’s a link here to my appearance this week on Greater Boston, hosted by Emily Rooney (Andy Rooney’s daughter), which is the highest-rated PBS show in the metro area. I was on with novelist Claire Cook and the non-fiction writer Kate Whouley discussing our summer reading picks.
And here’s an item in the Boston Globe re: my appearance on a Literary Idol panel at Grub Street’s – Boston’s dynamic writers’ center – annual Muse and the Marketplace conference last month.
Happy Fourth to one and all! xx