Lowlands, a debut novel


When James Ward, a high-school freshman living in Queens, meets Cornelia Parsons he gains entry into a very old, very secretive, and to him very attractive world. Cornelia and her enigmatic guardian Miss Widdershins belong to a confederation of travelers, perpetual exiles who left Ireland and Scotland centuries ago and who now recognize no law but their own. They are facing a crisis brought on by a malignant deserter. And now Cornelia expects her new friend James to take a hand.

“A lovely, smart and haunting adventure tale.”   Kirkus Reviews
(Kirkus has cited “Lowlands” as one of “22 Great Indie Books Worth Discovering” for 2017.)

“Mellow, proper, intelligent, languidly paced and FUNNY. This is a fantastic book about artful change and the thoughtful pursuit of something indefinable.”  The Rockford Review

Buy Lowlands:

Barnes and Noble


Livingston Press


“The fencing was genteel in manner. It seemed to be a drill rather than a contest. They crossed swords at a distance, both standing very upright and holding their arms almost straight, passing the tips over or under the other’s blade in turn, until, on some hidden signal, one stepped forward and bent the foiled blade on the other’s protected breast. All the time they were doing this, they stepped around the circle, orbiting around the center, and moving across only to deliver an attack. The swords shone like silver when they passed beneath a gap in the leaves above. I watched for a while, until I saw Cornelia on the other side of the ring, beckoning to me.”


Our world is the home of many secret histories. While I have always enjoyed tales set in imaginary worlds, I believe that our own real history, if looked at properly, is as stirring, as heroic and as terrible as any epic fantasy. In Lowlands the landscape of Northeast Queens where I grew up, with its many neighborhoods and unkempt flatlands bordering the bay, provides the improbable setting for one such an epic “fantasy.”

The characters, particularly Miss Widdershins, have been in my mind for decades, claiming my attention and working out their own destinies. They have moved through a world of my imagination, fed by the languages, history and music of the British Isles and Ireland, from the Britain of Arthur — Rex quondam Rexque futurus — through the bitter drama of the Wild Geese and the Jacobite movement, to The Hidden Ireland of Daniel Corkery. The great border ballads Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin provided consistent inspiration for the setting and mood of the story, along with influences from further afield like The King of the Gypsies and Alain Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes (The Wanderer).