Ruin’s author Leigh Seippel wrote the worlds of its characters having walked many of their paths.
Time Farm, the decayed Hudson Valley farmstead where Frank and Francy flee, is a poignant character in itself. As is the formerly ruined farm which Leigh and his wife Susan brought to vibrant variety. Their times brought flocks of sheep and goats, laying hens so privileged their big coop is named the Poultry Palace, a vineyard and winery, an apiary operation, and a vegetable garden sized for a large family. Much of the work there is by their own hands.
Unlike the very unlucky Frank and Francy, whose tale of disaster in Ruin is loosely based upon that of now deceased acquaintances, for Susan and Leigh life in Manhattan was not left forever. They are members of private clubs and institutions there like those the Campbells had to leave behind. Leigh sequentially progressed from finance attorney to co-founding a large private equity firm to venture capital investing. Career time took him for periods to West Texas, the Deep South and London. Personality portrayals in Ruin draw upon experiences there.
My Three SalmonsAnd Leigh’s love of nature led to long financial support of and service on the boards of two of the largest American land and water conservancy foundations. He also now chairs the fishery conservation work of The Anglers’ Club of New York, of which he has served as president.
The several fishing episodes of Ruin are all based to some extent on Leigh’s own adventures astream, with one exception a reader might guess. Often with Susan, he has fly fished across the United States, Eastern Canada, nearly a dozen countries of Europe, Russia, Turkey, Mongolia, India, Mexico, Argentina, New Zealand, Belize, Guatemala and the Bahamas.
For a dozen years Leigh with a friend wrote and published The Royal Coachman, a commercially successful light-hearted journal of globe-trotting exploratory fishing with an eye to creature comforts. In pen name The Royal Coachman, Leigh wrote the introduction to a Simon & Schuster primer of how to fly fish. The Anglers’ Club has privately published two books featuring his writing and he has book reviewed for the Trout Unlimited national magazine Trout.
Since 1995 Leigh has been an executive committee leader of Checkerboard Film Foundation, an award-winning documentary film producer which has archived over 30 living history portrayals of major American visual artists and architects. The Checkerboard project is to preserve for posterity thoughtfully candid views of their own work by art world luminaries who will be famous and studied long after their passing.
Leigh grew up near the Chesapeake Bay in rural Maryland. He is a graduate of his local high school, of Columbia College and of Columbia Law School.