Writers: Is your work set in the Hudson Valley? Is it your home, present or past? I want to read there this fall and I could use some company. Maybe yours?
Not On Fire, Only Dying is set in the fictional town of Schendenkill, NY, on the west bank of the river in the mid-Hudson Valley. The search for a (possibly?) missing newborn also brings the characters down to NYC’s East Village. Not On Fire, Only Dying was inspired by the years I lived in Kingston, in Ulster County, NY, in an apartment above my tiny used bookshop. It’s where my son spent his first years. For now I live in the South, but my heart and this book belong to the Hudson Valley.
My book tour feels incomplete. It doesn’t feel right, with all the places I’ve gone to promote it, that I haven’t read from NOFOD in the place it began. (And I want an excuse to be there when those colors hit.)
Last fall, when NOFOD debuted, I think I failed to communicate how much this is a book of that region. Now, when I approach bookstores and libraries, I’ll include this wonderful review, which said, among other lovely things: “The author’s poetic, laser-focused empathy unmasks life on the urban edge of Ulster County as Steinbeck’s did Cannery Row, revealing ‘normal’ as a shoddy sham.”
Maybe I’ll also include a tiny excerpt like the one below.
If you’re interested, please get in touch. I want to know the connection between your work and this area. I want to know that our fiction makes sense together. Maybe we’ll meet in the Hudson Valley this fall, sell some books. Maybe we’ll hear each other’s words and swoon.
Excerpt (from Chapter Three):
This week is the ecstatic pinnacle of autumn. The entire valley is aflame. The hills on both sides of the Hudson burn crimson and tangerine. In the weeks to come, the leaves will starve, then drop. Fall is about endings, Marko thinks. Death.
This isn’t the right attitude for a Schendenkill native. Schendenkill has long relied on seasonal visitors, or “leaf peepers.” This is the time of year to hike to the highest point you can: maybe Sam’s Point. From there the Shawangunk Ridge stretches endlessly, punctuated by glassy, sky-mirror lakes. The views are almost too much, too intense. Colors swim as with the onset of a hallucinogen.
His mother, always too sick to go herself, let him hike these trails so long as he was with his sisters, who were older. Hiking alone is discouraged. Someone must be nearby in case you swoon. Someone must remind you that the land you see is not on fire, only dying. Gently, as it’s meant to.