How did you come up with the concept for Where Willows Grow?
This is actually a project that chose me rather than the other way around. I attended our chuch's annual hayrack ride and bonfire in 2004. The hayrack ride took us past an abandoned farmhouse, and I got a "zing" of awareness--I knew a story was there. Over the next hours, characters began making themselves known to me, and in a few days the story had come to life.
Is any part of Where Willows Grow factual?
Yes, actually, there are several "factual" elements in this story. During this time period in Kansas, there was an oil boom and an earthquake--quite unusual! The Coronado Heights castle was truly built by WPA workers, and it still exists if readers would like to visit it. Of course, the Depression was very real! The characters, their town (Spencer), and the situation, however, is pure imagination.
How closely is this Where Willows Grow based on your life?
Well, probably not very much when it comes to setting. I've never been a farm girl, much to my chagrin, but I've faced a similar situation as Anna Mae--my husband having to be gone for extended periods of time (due to military travel), so I think I understood her angst as she watched Harley walk down the road away from their home.
How long did Where Willows Grow take you to complete?
The writing of this story probably took three months including the editing.
Do you have a favorite character? Why?
The secondary characters in this story really endeared themselves to me. You'll meet Dirk Farley, a man whose childlike faith and determination to walk as Jesus walked creates life-impacting changes in those he encounters. Then I dare you not to wish Ern Berkley was your own grandfather--he's such a wise, tender counselor and friend. Of course, Anna Mae, Harley, and their five-year-old Dorothy are pretty special, too.
How much research did Where Willows Grow take?
Basically I just researched the area and current events for that time, so it took less than some other historical stories. I was fortunate to communicate with Harvey Kohr, the son of the Coronado Heights Castle's project foreman. He really helped me "see" the project site.
Is this going to be a series?
No, Where Willows Grow is a stand-alone story.