Mary Pat Hyland is an award-winning former newspaper journalist and Amazon Top 100 Bestseller. She writes novels and short stories set in the scenic Finger Lakes wine country and Southern Tier region of New York State. Hyland's characters reflect her own Irish American heritage and her story lines often stray into magical realism.
Her latest novel, The Water Mystic of Woodland Springs, is the second book in the Caviston Sisters Mystery series, preceded by The Curse of the Strawberry Moon. She is the author of the best-selling novel, The House With the Wraparound Porch, a family saga spanning four generations. Her other works include The Maeve Kenny series: The Cyber Miracles (Book 1), A Sudden Gift of Fate (Book 2), and A Wisdom of Owls (Book 3); 3/17 (an Irish trad music parody of Dante's Inferno); The Terminal Diner (a suspense novel); and In the Shadows of the Onion Domes (collected short stories).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in upstate New York. It's where my ancestors settled—particularly around the Finger Lakes Region—when they arrived in America from Ireland. Every summer of my life I have visited Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes and the birthplace of the local wine industry. Keuka is to my family as Innisfree was to the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. Five of my novels are set on Keuka's sparkling shores, including my latest, The Water Mystic of Woodland Springs.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Water Mystic of Woodland Springs (coming later this year to Smashwords) evolved from a novel I began writing in the 1990s that merged with an idea for the second book in the Caviston Sisters Mystery Series set on Keuka Lake. After my niece's destination wedding at Cape Flattery on the Makah Reservation in the state of Washington I came up with the story's lead character, John Ozette. Part of the story was also inspired by a stay in a cottage on Skaneateles Lake in the 1990s. My family has always believed that swimming in Keuka Lake heals you of every stress. When I found out there was a water cure sanitarium on the lake back at the turn of the 20th century, I decided to merge what I knew with that history.
When an aging rock star is found dead in a New York vineyard, the Caviston sisters are drawn unwittingly into solving the murder of a member of a band they once idolized. Named after a Seneca Indian fable that haunts the story, The Curse of the Strawberry Moon blends eccentric characters with a riveting plot that delves intimately into the Finger Lakes wine industry.
These eighteen stories take place in an ethnically diverse river valley along the Southern Tier of New York State. They are tales of modern love, nosy neighbors, meddling friends, and the challenges of aging all set against within Edward Hopper-like landscapes where hope and dreams linger in the shadows of Orthodox Church domes.
When Mame McGrath's family moves in across the street from a magnificent Queen Anne-style house, she notices a catatonic young man rocking on its wraparound porch. Mame proclaims boldly that she will restore his psyche—devastated by a drowning in Keuka Lake. What she doesn't anticipate is that he and this house will become the heart of her existence.
Fergal & Brídgeen Griffin face a tough deadline for making the Finger Lakes winery they manage for their cousin profitable. The date collides with the onsite wedding of their best friends, Maeve & Andy. In honor of the Griffin's successes though, they give them a barn owl box with a webcam. It draws in the world as the winery fails & all realize there's much to be learned from the wisdom of owls.
Irish newlyweds Fergal and Brídgeen Griffin receive an interesting proposal to manage a Finger Lakes winery his cousin bought as an investment. They accept the gift of fate, but when they see the run-down Keuka Lake property and meet its surly winemaker, they realize it will be a challenge getting from grapes to glass. Can they keep hope alive?
Maeve Kenny loses her bright Manhattan career and soap star boyfriend suddenly through a run of bad luck. She's forced to move back to her parents' upstate N.Y. home where she befriends their quirky, computer-hacking neighbor, Andy. When he creates a website to help her get re-employed, Maeve tells him she needs a miracle. Who would have thought the whole world would be watching when it arrived?
In this loose parody of Dante's "Inferno," four Irish traditional musicians get lost in the backwoods of upstate New York the week before St. Patrick's Day. On the journey, the band descends through nine hellish circles of American-style March 17th revelry: Step-dancing princesses. Bobbing shamrock headbangers. Green beer bacchanals. Shillelagh-wavin' geezers. O'Fun, not!
"Men like pie." Elaina Brady's mother shared that bit of wisdom with her shortly before hitching a ride West with a trucker from Missoula. Elaina takes on her mother's job making pies at the family diner—a dull existence. Then on the eve of Sept. 11, people she meets expand her horizons, inspiring her to be impulsive like her mother. Will she survive the consequences of her actions?