I knew I wanted to set the novel in Kentucky. I’ve lived in the state my entire life. The beauty of the land and the strength of the people have left their imprint on my writing. I first thought of setting the story on a horse farm—after all, Kentucky’s known for horses—but it just didn’t feel right. I was an avid flower gardener (I’m one of those people who can’t wait for winter to end so I can put my hands in the soil), and I began toying with the idea of setting the story on a commercial flower farm.
Although I was already a gardener, I felt like I needed to know more. I enrolled in the Master Gardener Certification program offered through my local county extension center. The classes gave me the in-depth gardening information that I needed to write the book. They also made me a much better gardener and enabled me to pass the information down to my children. Most of them are now gardeners and understand ecological issues we’re facing like honeybee colony collapse!
I believe we're shaped by our environment. We feel a pull to particular places, places that once we're there, feel like "home". I already knew that Lily and Rose would be estranged. So when writing Eden Farms, I wanted to create a place that left its mark on the characters, a place that Lily (especially) would miss. A place that would call to her. A place she felt she belonged.
Finally, one of the things I wanted to explore in the novel is the way that life comes from death. Gardening is a perfect example of that. Compost is a combination of things that have "died" (banana peels, spent coffee grounds, paper, etc.) and broken down. That same "dead" compost is the perfect nourishment for plants, providing them with the nutrients they need to grow.
Eden Farms might be fictional, but if you want to add a little of its magic to your life all you need are a few flowers and a trowel!