Last month when I spoke to the 6th graders at a school in Southern Ohio, a young man asked, “Why did you write the 415 Raspberry Picket series?”
I have often asked myself why did I feel so moved to write these three novels? In 2005 I was very stressed at work and I wanted something else in my life I could focus on that would be fun and creative. I laid awake in bed most of the night tossing and turning and desperately trying to figure out what I could do. I finally drifted off to a troubled sleep. When the alarm clock went off a few hours later telling me it was time to get ready for work , I had the idea for the books imprinted on my mind! Of course through the years I had to ‘flesh out’ the stories and develop plot twists.
The characters and the main purpose of the book was clearly defined in my mind. I love plants and I have been concerned about the loss of plant habitats and how this impacts wildlife and humans. Twenty years ago the world’s population was 6 BILLION people. Today the population is over 7 Billion (7,000,000,000) and by 2100 it could exceed 11 BILLION people! I am not a scientist, nor an ecologist, and I have no religious or political agenda. But I don’t think billions of people cutting down trees, and destroying plant habitats is good for anyone! I am not even going to discuss the hot issue of climate change, melting glaciers and the rest. Often people hear ‘climate change’ and they are so entrenched in their views they stop listening to anything the other person has to say.
Regardless of a persons views, the reality is we as a race are destroying plant life at an alarming rate. I have recently read there is a huge decline in song birds, Monarch Butterflies and many other species of life because of the destruction of their homes. I recently saw a show discussing how the animals on the Serengeti Plains of Kenya and Tanzania could perish within our life times due to the cutting down of trees that hold water in a major river during the rainy season. When the trees are used for fire wood the roots will not hold the water and the Giraffes, Wildebeest, the herds of Zebra and Gazelles could perish and in a very short amount of time. Of course there are many other examples how serious this issue is. The destruction of rainforests around the world is very scary. In Ohio there are small species of plants disappearing as we build endless shopping malls and housing developments. Twenty years ago on the east side of Columbus several new shops, restaurants, and other retail stores were built destroying farm land and forests. In just twenty years the area is in urban decay and there are miles of empty stores and restaurants.
I guess we can live without wild Giraffes or butterflies or even song birds. In the 1970’s Charlton Heston stared in a ‘B’ science fiction movie called Soylent Green. The near future was very grim. There were so many people and not enough food or water. Pollution and climate changes had left the planet Earth a hot dirty mess. The government was feeding people a protein called Soylent Green. I don’t want to give the plot away but the hero of the movie was on a mission to discover what the source was for this protein. So far today in real time there have been over 26 million deaths on Earth. I imagine you probably have guessed what Soylent Green really was! I suppose if you were hungry you would eat anything!
In my novels there is an evil entity who is on a mission to destroy all plant life on Earth. The creature feeds on the death of plant life. A small boy, Darach moves in with his eccentric bachelor, Uncle Rubus along with his housekeeper Flo. Rubus mother, Rosemary is the matriarch of the family and is loved and cherished by both her son and grandson. Not long after moving in the boy Darach is shocked to learn his uncle and grandmother and the housekeeper are all witches living in a house on a quiet street in a small Ohio town. They are selected to fight the evil.
Why are the characters in the books witches? From the beginning of time it was the medicine man, the Shaman, the witchdoctor, the witch who had the knowledge of plants and how they were used for magical and medical purposes. Even the Bible mentions magical and medical herbs. In early days people felt the Willow tree was a very magical plant because it could take away pain. In our modern era it has been discovered the bark of the Willow has the same chemical makeup of aspirin! Even today there are groups of people such as native Americans, Amish, and people in the Appalachians who believe in the magical and medical qualities of plants. Many today believe using natural herbs is far better for them than consuming artificial chemically manufactured drugs. My mother is a huge fan of using minerals and herbs for health issues.
In my novels the characters use magical herbs to battle the evil entity and try to restore balance to the Earth.
So why did I write these books and feel so passionate about them? It is my greatest hope young people will read these fantasy novels and possibly develop a love for gardening or as an adult become involved in plant conservation. It would be my greatest joy if even one young person read my books and became a leader of a movement to save plants or became a biologist and learned new ways to keep the Earth green and vibrant!