Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Meet the Author of Wilder Ponds

Kirby White, the author of "Wilder Ponds", the second in a series of upstate New York mystery novels will discuss and sign his new book on Thursday, December 4 from 4 to 7pm. The event will be held at an open house for the area’s community development groups, the Albany Community Land Trust, Affordable Housing Partnership, Community Realty, Capital District Community Loan Fund and Albany Center for Economic Success (ACES), at 255 Orange Street in Albany, NY.

"Wilder Ponds" is set in a remote region of New York’s unique “public/private” Adirondack Park. The plot centers around a conflict over the control of land – the sort of conflict that has aroused strong feelings in the region for years. Elderly land-owner Patrick Wetherby has fallen to his death from the porch of his Adirondack great camp, and the suspicion is that he was pushed by someone who opposed his plans for the (fictional) 18,000-acre Wilder Ponds tract. However, no one knows whether he had intended to preserve the land as wilderness or sell it for development of luxurious summer estates. His daughter Eleanor, who has inherited the land, is now trying to determine not only what her father intended but what is in fact the best course of action for all concerned, including various members of her family who have quite different ideas of what should be done. For help, she turns to Warren Crow, an Albany-based consultant. As he probes the questions, Crow becomes deeply involved with the fate of the ponds – and with Eleanor’s daughter Ronnie, who loves the ponds just as they are.

White wrote his first novel fifty years ago as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, and his second as a graduate student at the Iowa Writers Workshop. He has taught writing and literature courses at the high school and college levels, but, since 1980, his work has involved technical assistance to community organizations dealing with land and housing issues – and the writing and editing of books, manuals and articles on these subjects. For part of this time he lived in Albany (in a little house on Orange Street like the fictional home of Warren Crow). He is a founder of the Albany Community Land Trust and the Capital District Community Loan Fund, but his technical assistance work has also taken him to many other communities around the country. In recent years he has merged his interest in the question of “who controls the land and who benefits from its use” with his interest in fiction writing, to produce mystery novels with plots that spring from just that question. In the first of these novels, The Long Stair, the question is who will control and benefit from development of land in a disinvested Albany neighborhood. In Wilder Ponds, the question is who will control and benefit from the development – or preservation – of a piece of Adirondack wilderness.

Today White lives in the village of Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. Like Warren Crow, he loves the woods and waters of this region – and also has a passion for long canoe trips in northern Canada. Each winter he spends a month or more in Honduras, helping his wife Nola with community development and watershed protection projects.

All labor and materials for the publication of these books have been donated to the nonprofit Fox Creek Press. All proceeds from their sale will be passed on to community development and conservation organizations.

Wilder Pond is available at these independent and locally-owned bookstores: The Open Door on Jay Street in Schenectady; The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza and Battenkill Books in Cambridge or by emailing foxcreekpress@earthlink.net.

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