What is an Adirondack Writer?

Writers are habit beasts. We stick to what we know.

When I was teaching creative writing at Paul Smith’s College, I asked this question: what does it mean to be an Adirondack Writer?

You know Daniel Woodrell is identified as an Ozarks writer. Louise Penny—all of her work takes place in Ontario. Benjamin Percy writes about Oregon in all almost all of his prose fiction. Russell Banks and my friend TJ Brearton are Adirondack Writers in the sense that they write about the upper regions of New York.

To be an Adirondack Writer, I think, you have to look and see what the mountains can do to people. There’s no signal. Everything is two hours away. You’re out there. And all you’ve got is each other. Or you’re alone. What does that do to people? All sorts of environmental disasters can happen.

Last week, we went back to Lake Placid for a visit—exactly a year removed from leaving town. I think I’m ready to start writing about it. To join my friends in being an Adirondack Writer.

For me, when I close my eyes, my mind goes back to Lake Placid and some of the weirdness and active life I lived there growing up. My vision has always been skewed towards the weird and the Hughesian so I’ve been playing with a town that exists somewhere between Lake Placid and Plattsburgh. It’s not Wilmington, Ausable Forks, or Jay. It’s a town in place of others. It’s called Snowden. It has nothing to do with the whistleblower. It’s a name I took from a Doves song.

The other milestone I realized while on vacation in New York, I think, is that I’m ready to finish my third novel. A literary novel I’ve been noodling around with for the past three or so years and stripping whole chapters to submit as short stories. It’s about three families growing up in Snowden and what the town does to them over the years.

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