Monday, July 5, 2010

Why the Finger Lakes?

The Broken Vows mystery series are set in the Finger Lakes region of New York State for two main reasons:

1) It’s a beautiful area, worth recommending.
2) A lot of my happiest days occurred there.

My first book, For Better, For Murder, opens in Wachobe, a fictional town on the region’s western border. With a fictional town I hoped to write whatever I wanted without being corrected or offending anyone. But in the eastern Finger Lakes, Skaneateles hosts a Dickens Christmas that surpasses the Dickens Festival in my book.

In the second book, For Richer, For Danger, my protagonist travels to Canandaigua, where I spent childhood summers camping, swimming, exploring, and riding the carousel in the Roseland Amusement Park which closed in 1985. My family enjoyed the summertime Waterfront Arts Festival and the Canandaigua Art and Music Festival for years and the more recent holiday-time European-inspired Christkindl Market and Festival of Trees.

As kids, when not in Canandaigua, we spent weekends in the western part of the region on a hill above Hemlock Lake, where my grandfather built a cabin on ten acres across the road from his birthplace. We picked blueberries, played games, swam, planted sticks that magically grew into candy, etc.

Nowadays, my family hangs out on Keuka Lake, where it is possible to:

  • Buy tasty Mennonite baked goods and gorgeous handmade quilts

  • Boat or drive to scenic restaurants and wineries with excellent offerings

  • Go fishing, catch nothing, and still come home with a cooler full of fish because friends will share their catch

  • Fall off your friend’s jet ski, be unable to climb back on, and have said friend swim out to rescue you, your small child, and the jet ski

  • Have a dozen strapping young men appear on cue to carry your newly assembled boat hoist into the water and position it for you (several times) even if they have to stay under water longer than really wise

  • Attempt to water ski, wipe out multiple times, and still have your neighbors cheer your success

  • Find talented retiree labor when you need help installing drainage ditches, water pumps, wood flooring, etc.

  • Swim all day—and not think about the fish, turtle, or snake that lives under your dock

  • Relax by the water and have friends float by just to say “hi”

Mind you, I’m not saying all these experiences are mine or my loved ones. I’m just saying the Finger Lakes are a great place to be.

So, what’s your favorite summertime vacation spot? Favorite summer memory?


Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of time at Kentucky Lake in my youth. Now I spend a lot of time at my own (small) lake in the Missouri Ozarks.

So when you told your publisher that you were going to set your stories at the Finger Lakes, was there any objection or concern? I've heard of editors changing locales in fiction in order to avoid potential lawsuits and/or to make the setting more "glamorous" or well known.

Alan Orloff said...

That's a wonderful part of the country, especially in the summer (in winter, it's a tad chilly). I lived in Syracuse for a year, and we were always going to the Finger Lakes for fun and recreation. Now, I pretty much chauffeur my kids around the suburbs of Northern VA in the summer--talk about fun!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

It sounds like a fantastic setting, Lisa! Except for the Jet Skiing, which scares me a little. :) I'd for sure be the one needing rescue.

Alice Loweecey said...

Fern Resort, near Orillia, Ontario. We;ve been going there for 8 years, and we're going again in less than 3 weeks. Not that I'm counting. :D It's family-oriented, and every year we have loads of fun with the kids--and I get in some major writing time. Plus, I don't have to cook or clean anything for seven whole days. Now that's a vacation for mom!

Darrell James said...

Lisa- I've never been to Finger Lakes. It sounds fabulous.

As a kid, growing up in Kentucky, we didn't go on vacations. (Possibly because we didn't own a car.)

My fondest memories of summer were playing baseball in the sandlot, riding our bycycles down country roads as far as we could go, and swimming in the pond.

Simple, but boy did we have fun!

Keith Raffel said...

Lisa, I'm going to keep with your theme. My favorite summer vacation spot is upstate New York, too! I went to Saratoga Springs for a decade where I played the ponies with the boys. Favorite memory? Asking my wife to marry her there.

Dru said...

We didn't go anywhere for the summer, but I did enjoy the neighborhood summer program (PAL).

I'm looking forward to reading For Richer, For Danger.