I spent my entire childhood playing by a creek, pulling weeds in a garden, and running around with my friends on 40 acres in the woods. I did not, however, grow up in the country as one might assume from that sentence. My family lived in the suburbs of St. Charles until I was about ten-years-old when we moved to Old St. Charles. A historic neighborhood close to the river where the city of St. Charles originated. One whole side of our backyard was a vegetable garden. When I was about thirteen we moved to St. Louis County, Shrewsbury to be exact. We kept moving closer to the city and all my friends lived in the county. Growing up homeschooled in the 90’s you found what community you could, and ours came from our tiny church of nothing but homeschool families. We drove from all over the state to meet in Des Peres in a Baptist church building. We met in the afternoon in the gymnasium of the church. We had our corporate worship time, broke off into men’s groups and women’s groups, and when all that was finished we had dinner together. Church was almost an all-day affair. Not all, but most of the families who attended lived in the country. When our family moved to Old St. Charles the pastor and his family moved to Rolla. His wife and my mom were best friends and one of their daughters was mine. We spent a lot of time in Rolla. I have a lot of childhood memories from running amuck on their property. We would spend the day in the woods exploring, building rafts for the pond that frequently sunk, going to the river and swimming all afternoon. When we lived in St. Charles our property ended by a small creek. If I was not in the creek building things out of the dirt, I was under the bushes making a fort, or up in the treehouse. It’s safe to say my happiest childhood memories revolve around the outdoors. There is a part of me that has always wanted to live in the country.

When I started writing Dandelion my first intention had not been to write about a small town in the country. The character of Dandelion swirled in my mind and the more her personality gained clarity the more I realized country life was the only way to set it. I’ve never been a big town girl, it made sense I wouldn’t want to write about a city. I wanted to write about what gave me happiness as a child, probably because Dandelion herself is such an unhappy character. If I tossed her into what I thought was a beautiful scene, an idyllic place to grow up, it would lessen the blow that is Dandelion.¬† After all, who wouldn’t want to grow up on property, have a large lake to swim in, and woods to escape to? Well, a lot of people. I suppose that’s the irony. We never do want what we have, we always want what’s just out of reach. Dandelion desperately¬†seeks peace and will never find it in the quiet of her woods. She wants what she cannot have and it creates her own kind of chaos.

Missouri is made up of a lot of different groups of people. If you live in St. Louis you sort of forget about the rest of the state. You think this is it. We have a lot of problems with race relations, politics, and what you think of the police, can polarize us as a city. But we also have beautiful little neighborhoods with fantastic food and parks. What other city boasts a free zoo, free art museum, free history museum, free outdoor theater in Forest Park at the Muny and Shakespeare. The further out you go the smaller the towns, the friendly the people, and beautiful landscapes. The Lake of the Ozarks is truly beautiful. Our state has rolling hills, flat land to farm, lakes, small towns, beautiful architecture. Missouri has a lot to offer. It is a rich state to build a world in.