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Hollis Palmer

Hollis PalmerTen Questions with Hollis Palmer, a Saratoga author, story-teller, and owner of Derby Tours of Saratoga Springs.

1. Are you a native of the Saratoga area?

Although the first generation to live in Saratoga Springs, I am 8th generation Saratoga County. In 1773, Joseph Palmer and his son Jared started the family farm on the river just north of Schuylerville.

2. What do you do in your free time when not writing or story-telling?

Teaching at the College of St. Rose and giving tours are my principle activities. Writing tends to happen in burst and story-telling doesn't happen often enough. I truly love relating the stories of the people who made Saratoga the city it is.

3. What do you love most about writing?

Since in some way all my writing is about history the process falls into stages: research, synthesizing and first draft, second draft and editing. I enjoy all the steps except editing!!

4. Six of your books are Victorian era true crimes from the Saratoga area. What fascinates you about this?

If one were to write about all the crimes in the area he or she could fill volumes. From that group, I select stories that have some bizarre twist. Most of my stories are unsolved so it allows me and my readers to play detective.

5. You are a story-teller. Do you have a favorite story you tell?

My favoriteis always the story I am working on at the moment. As of this interview it is the effect, John Morrissey, Alexander Stewart and Commodore Vanderbilt had on the village of Saratoga Springs (it was a village at the time.) From my books there would be three: Maggie's Revenge - just because what happened was so obvious, yet no one was ever tried; the murder of Eliza Billings because there were four very different suspects; and the story of the Waterford bank robbery where in 1873, a gang stole over $400,000 - $40,000,000 in today's dollars.

6. Tell us about the Derby Tours of Saratoga. How does someone participate in one of these?

The tours are constantly evolving; however, they are about the people who made the great houses of Saratoga their homes. Most of our tours are of the Batcheller Mansion or as a step on guide for various tour companies from all over the world. We also offer walking tours of four different Saratoga neighborhoods. We post tours that are open to the public on so keep checking in. If a group would like a tour check our website

7. What is something people don't know about you?

I teach College Algebra and Pre-calculus at the College of St. Rose.

8. What is your best memory of being in Saratoga?

I wouldn't even try to answer this one - there are just too many. My best memories focus around how people really enjoy this community.

9. What would you recommend to someone who would like to be an author?

If you want to have written a book, you never will. If you want to write a book, you may. People who have written books did so because they feel they have something that needs to be said. Unfortunately, in this economy, I believe that 3% of the authors make 97% of the money, so don't plan to write to get rich.

10. Finish this sentence: "Saratoga is...

...A state of mind as well as a place." That is why the city became famous and it is why people choose to visit and relocate here today. Those of us who live here too often begin to take our special qualities for granted. Two of our most important characteristics are that our great homes are not hidden behind trees or walls; and we actually have a downtown where people shop.

Read more from Hollis Palmer in a guest article, "If Walls Could Talk" »