August 6, 2017

Childhood in New York Inspires Fran Orenstein

It has been said that once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. I have lived many different states, but if I had my way, I would be living somewhere in lower New York. Alas, I have reached a point where the icy, snowy, cold weather are not the draw they once were when I was young. Today I am a writer and a poet, which began at age seven living amid the mystery and aura of New York City and the
Catskill Mountains just across the Hudson River. Some of my books set in this area, include Murder in Duplicate, a contemporary adult novel that takes place in Manhattan. It features a young professional editor/author seeking romance, love, and marriage, but finding deceit and betrayal instead. Can Lily survive the machinations of the love of her life?

For older ‘tweens and younger teens, The Book of Mysteries, a trilogy in three novels in a single volume, pits Manhattan teens, Tyler and Zack against a disappearing bookshop, a magical bookseller, fantasy creatures and adventures that test their survival abilities. 

 My two poetry books, First Footprints and Winding Ways speak to the wonders of growing up in New York City and the Catskill Mountains. Can you guess the world-famous boardwalk on the cover of First Footprints? For a budding poet and writer, the Catskills provided a nest to nurture the imagination of a child, swinging under the Ghost Tree, climbing mountains, wading through poison ivy to pick blueberries, back roads to explore, and watching a UFO hover overhead at dusk. [Note: Aliens did explore the Catskills in the mid-20th century and I was there.] 

Over the past twenty years I have written books for kids, ‘tweens, teens, and adults in a variety of genres. Book four of the Shadow Boy Mysteries for ‘tweens is expected to be released shortly by Saguaro Books, LLC. Watch for Mystery in Gram’s Attic. The mysterious boy, Huby is back, but to really get to know him, first suprise the kids in your life with Mystery Under Third Base, Mystery of the Green Goblin, and Mystery of the Stolen Painting.

How could I, as a child who spent every summer in the Catskill Mountains of Southern New York State where Rip Van Winkel wandered, not fall in love with literature written by such a magnificent writer as Washington Irving? Violent thunderstorms evoked the vision of 17th century Dutchmen bowling nine-pins in the mountains while Rip slept, his beard growing long and white. In the darkness of night, I shivered under the covers listening for hoof beats, picturing the headless horseman crashing through the trees carrying his head. This genre influenced the paranormal aspects of many of my books, such as Death in D Minor, an historical murder mystery set in the Philadelphia area in the 19th century. Danse Macabre is a short story anthology filled with spirits, vampires, and evil.

I was a child who grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx, NY and spent the summer in the Catskill
Mountains that ranged along the western side of the great Hudson River, facing small towns in the east settled by the Dutch in the early sixteen hundreds. What would the English explorer, Henry Hudson think now if he were to once more sail the Half Moon into the bay that would one day house the greatest city in the world for the past four centuries? The Dutch East India Company sent him to find a northern route to Cathay, but what he found became the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The Hudson River named for this explorer flows from the bay north to Fort Orange [now Albany, the NY state capital], winding alongside the Catskill Range.

All my books are available on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites in Ebook and paper back. Visit Fran’s World at

The first governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Minuit bought the land from the Manahatta Indians in trade for beads and Beaver pelts. Peter Stuyvesant, the next governor has streets, communities and a school named for him. However, he could not prevent the English from claiming the area for themselves a few decades later. Thus New Amsterdam became New York as a gift to the Duke of York. 

Dutch names from the early 17th century still prevail, although anglized over the centuries. Of the five boroughs, Manhattan remains as a tribute to the original Mannahata Indians. A Dutch settler, Jonas Bronck had purchased the land above New Amsterdam, which today is called The Bronx, home of the New York Yankees, the Bronx Zoo, the beautiful botanical gardens and my middle-childhood home. Brooklyn, where I was born and lived early and then teen years was originally called
Breukelen after a village in the Netherlands. Staten Island was once Staten Eylandt for the States General government body in the Netherlands. Finally, Queens, the most diverse of all the boroughs was named by the English for Queen Catherine, wife of King Charles. But the Catskill Mountains still stand in juxtaposition to the greatest city in the world, towering over the Hudson River. If you close your eyes during a thunderstorm you can still hear the rumbling cracks of balls hitting nine-pins, as Henry Hudson’s lost crew lures another hapless fool to their clearing. Beware the drinks they offer, or you too may fall asleep for forty years.

Answer this question here in your comment for a chance to win a signed copy of your choice of one of my novels:  Name the Boardwalk on the cover of First Footprints.  Make sure to leave a contact link with your comment in case you’re the winner!   

(all info author provided)


  1. What parts of Brooklyn and The Bronx are you from?

  2. I think it's called The Riegelmann Boardwalk but most just call it the Conney Island Boardwalk.

  3. I've never been to New York and hope to some day get there. There's so many places to go and to see. The state has been in so many books and movies throughout my life.

  4. Nice portrait of your state, Fran.

  5. I love New York City. I've been to upstate NY too, have even set some books there. New York is a beautiful state. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I enjoyed your interesting post about your writing and your summers in the Catskills. I went to the Catskills in 1968 and stayed at one of the great hotels. This was a wonderful experience and I am glad that I had this opportunity since none of them exist any longer. I travelled through upstate New York as well which is lovely during the summer. Best wishes and I love boardwalks which are special and give me a warm feeling as living during the 1950's did. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. I lived for many years in NYC and still travel there frequently with my kids. We love it.

  8. Thank you, everyone for the comments, I'm so glad you all enjoyed the blog. The winner of the contest is Catslady. You got the correct answer, Coney Island Boardwalk. If there is the other name, I've never heard it. If you look very closely, you can see the famous parachute in the distance. Watch for an email about your book.
    Carol Ann: In Brooklyn, I lived in Borough Park, Coney Island, Flatbush, and Marine Park. In The Bronx, I lived in the West Bronx, Walton Ave & 166th St. near Yankee Stadium.
    Thanks again,


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