Ledges Where Birch Was Born

High places scare me. This fear is probably built into my dna, but an experience that almost killed me surely made the phobia worse and, alas, permanent. I was about age 12 visiting my priest uncle with my family in the Pinardville section of Manchester, NH. We often went to Manchester and sometimes stayed a week or more at the rectory of St. Edmund's Parish where my uncle was pastor; while I was there I »

Salmon Estate and Cooty's Cabin

I have roots in the Monadnock Region, that part of New Hampshire in the southwestern corner whose landmark is Mount Monadnock, a place of forests, glacial erotics–excuse me, glacial erratics–and of course the mountain. My connection with this area begins with my uncle, my first mentor, and the man I am named after, the Rev. Joseph Ernest Vaccarest. His first parish as a young pastor was St. Dennis Church in Harrisville in the »

Latour's Spoonwood Cabin

In Spoonwood, Frederick Elman a.k.a. F. Latour moves into the woods at the site a former hippie commune from the 1960s to get away from booze to raise Birch, his infant son. I loved creating this little home in the woods along with its back story of hippie idealism and eroticism and, in the end, failed dreams. I got the idea from a real place in my town of Westmoreland, New Hampshire, that »

Turner Jordan Place

The Turner Jordan place, which appears in Howard Elman's Farewell, is based on one of the nicest properties in my town of Westmoreland, NH–house, workshop, and a garden where the wonders of nature integrate with the tastes and desires of the gardener. However, the scene between Howard and Turner Jordan is one of my regrets. Turner Jordan is too much like Jim Merritt, a skilled wood worker who specializes in turned wooden bowls. I »

Hillary Farm

The Avalon Hillary Farm plays a big role in Whisper My Name, the third novel in the Darby Chronicles. One of the true life dramas that inspired that book was a proposal by an outside firm to build a pulp mill on farmland in Walpole, New Hampshire, back in the 1970s. The controversy showed the great divide between the people of North Walpole, who welcomed a company that would bring jobs to the area, and »

Tree House

One book carried me through my childhood. It sustained my spirit, fed my growing need to inhabit a world of make-believe, and on a practical level gave me material to write book reports over several years. Book reports are more fun to write second, third and fourth time around. They give you an excuse to read the book again; they get easier to write as you become more and more familiar with the material. Then, »