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Strolling through Cherry Ridge

Nisky' man releases first fiction book with ‘small town’ flare

Local author Craig Stevens posing with his dog, Gretchen, which was an inspiration for the dog in his recently released book "Legacies of Cherry Ridge."

Local author Craig Stevens posing with his dog, Gretchen, which was an inspiration for the dog in his recently released book "Legacies of Cherry Ridge." Submitted photo

— He said he basically wanted to prove to himself he could write something more creative and out of his traditional non-fiction, academic style.

“I said, ‘It is time to see if I am as creative as I think I am,’” he said. “I had never done something that involved connecting page 6 with 166.”

Once he sat down to write, the characters started to come alive, he said, leading to 212 pages of mystery, murder, romance and social commentary, with a side of humor.

Even though Stevens chooses to classify the book as a mystery novel for retail sale, the full spectrum appears more broad than a “who done it” prescribed formula. He wanted readers to be contemplating more than the mystery.

“I don’t like one-dimensional books,” he said. “The page turners are great if you are on a train and don’t want to think over much. … I didn’t want to waste my time or reader’s time.”

He tried to give a human side to the book, he said, which lead to characters having every day concerns about issues such as crime and religion. The protagonist, Christopher St. James, is close to 40 years old and his dog, who is similar to Steven’s dog Gretchen, lead readers along as he struggles with his love-hate relationship with his small hometown. James starts out in Albany, but eventually moves back to the small-town politics and dilemmas of his hometown.

“Legacies of Cherry Ridge” is inspired by Stevens’ experience growing in a small upstate New York town, but he has lived in Niskayuna for 20 years now, too. Throughout the book there is an array of small-town characters, which he said would probably seem familiar to readers from a similar area.

So far, Stevens said he’s received a favorable response to his book.

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