visit with them-- and also with the spinners, knitters and mystery readers.
I was invited there to speak about and sign copies of The Silence of the Llamas. Tabbethia Haubold, who raises, shows and trains llamas at the Long Island Livestock Company, heard about the book and being a real llama farmer, the title intrigued her. She's an extraordinary person, an expert in her field, and a primary sponsor of this fiber celebration, set on the Hallockville Historic Farm.
I'd visited the festival about two years ago, while doing research for this story. Unfortunately, I didn't meet Tabbethia at the time. If I had, I probably would have gotten more of my llama facts straight.
Did you know llamas can be trained to guard sheep, perform on an agility course and are even used as therapy animals in nursing homes and hospitals? They are very easy and undemanding to care for -- much easier than dogs. Which gave me pause. Should I consider a trade-in? I know where I can get a good deal. (Only kidding guys!)
It was interesting to return to the place where I first got my ideas and inspiration for the story -- with the finished book in hand. Sort of a full circle situation that sometimes happens in life.
The first time I visited the festival it was a perfect fall day; sunny, dry and breezy. This past Sunday, I left my house under cloudy skies hoping for the best. I was perhaps a bit optimistic in outlook and the way I was dressed-- which is either a shortcoming, or very positive trait of mine. It was raining steadily by the time I reached the fair. But the parking lot was surprising full. There were still many visitors and a full schedule of activities -- sheep and llama shearing, herding, spinning and wool dying demonstrations.
Many hand crafted items and knitting or spinning supplies were on sale in the big barn and vendor tents. Hey, just like the opening chapter of my book. Though in the story, "Merry making soon turns to mayhem."
As I walked about, I realized how much I'd modeled the description of Ellie and Ben Krueger's farm on the Hallockville property. It's a very scenic spot and the buildings are well preserved, with an antique store in the farm house and many interesting out buildings, where demonstrations were set up. Green fields stretch behind the farm buildings as far as the eye can see. The open spaces of this area never fail to refresh my mind and spirit -- as beautiful in the mist and rain as under a sunny sky.
When it was time to talk about the Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, a crowd of encouraging size gathered. Frankly, I'm not sure where they came from. But there they were, huddled under the signing tent. I was happy to describe my inspiration for the story, answer questions and sign books. I met several fans who have been following the series and hopefully, won over a few new ones.
Hope to return to the Fleece & Fiber Fair next year, with a new Black Sheep Mystery, presently in the works -- A Dark and Stormy Knit. In fact, I should be working on it right now.
(Yeah, I'm being ba-a-a-d.)