featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Barbara Quinn is a novelist and award-winning short story writer. Along with being the founder and former publisher of The Rose & Thorn, she’s the author of four novels: Speed of Dark, 36C, Slings and Arrows, and the forthcoming Hard Head. She practiced law for ten years and held many jobs from lingerie sales clerk to postal worker, cocktail waitress to process server. Her love of travel has taken her to four continents and 47 states. She splits her time between Bradley Beach on the Jersey shore and Montebello, New York. She and her husband have one son, Bret, and a grandson, Ammo. Barbara welcomes email at BAQuinn@aol.com  and would love to keep in touch via twitter.com/BarbaraQuinn. 

Barbara has a free copy, either pdf or mobi/Kindle version, of Speed of Dark to give to one of our readers. To enter the drawing, post a comment to the blog. -- AP

The Other New York

I set my novel, Speed of Dark, in a fictional town north of New York City. One of the areas I drew on in crafting the locale was northern Westchester County in New York State, where I did a stint as the town attorney for North Salem. Besides living in North Salem, I also resided in neighboring Lewisboro for a time. The scenic area crops up periodically in my stories.

Like many small towns, North Salem has its share of town tales including the haunting story of The Leatherman. The Leatherman was an itinerant wanderer known for tramping about many towns in New York and Connecticut in the late 19th century in tattered leather body wear. I make reference to one of the versions of the Leatherman’s tale in Speed of Dark. In that version the Leatherman wandered the region because he had a broken heart. While the reason for his wandering is unknown, he was a real and colorful character who covered many miles on foot each year, rarely talked, though he could converse in French, and who subsisted on handouts, and lived in caves. You can visit one of the caves that the Leatherman stayed in during his travels at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River.

The Leatherman
Another spot that influenced my crafting of Speed of Dark is the Herkimer Diamond Mines in Herkimer, New York. Many people are familiar with Herkimer cheddar cheese, but this area of upstate New York is also known for Herkimer diamonds, gorgeous double-terminated quartz crystals that anyone can find with a little elbow grease. The atmosphere of the mines and the surrounding area lingered and carried over into the feel of what happens when my main character, Luke, and the girl he has a crush on, Celeste, meet up in a cave much like the caves that dot the hills of upstate New York, and much like the caves that the Leatherman used for refuge.

At the Herkimer Diamond Mines you can pay a small fee and wander through the bucolic and rocky area to search for your own bed of crystals. The mines rent out hammers or you can bring your own tools such as chisels and screens. It’s really a lot of fun to take out all your frustrations by hammering on the soft rock in hopes of unveiling a pocket of crystals. I went with my husband and son and we had a terrific time smacking the rock. We were thrilled when we found some of the perfectly formed crystals. You keep what you find. Not only is it great therapy, but you bring home pretty shiny crystals that are valued by many for their holistic traits.

When people think of New York, the city comes to mind: Wall Street, Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, and the World Trade Center Memorial. But outside of the City, there are any number of places of incredible beauty, inspiration, and fascination such as the Leatherman’s Cave and the Herkimer Diamond Mines.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Barbara. I know I’ll be putting these areas of upstate NY on my list of places to visit. What about the rest of you? Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Barbara's book. Don't forget to either include an email address or check back on Sunday to see if you've won. We can't send you your book if we can't get in touch with you. -- AP


Anonymous said...

I had no idea about the caves in NY...fascinating!! I never wanted to go to NY, but I do now!

Liz V. said...

Love the area around Cornell, but only in clement weather.

Barbara Quinn said...

Tess, upstate NY really is an amazing spot to travel to especially if you like outdoor activities. Liz, yes, Ithaca is gorgeous. Lots of waterfalls and lakes and bonechilling winters for sure!