Rooted in Magic


reveling in the lush green of rural New Hampshire

In celebration of Edith’s book launch this week all the Wickeds are talking about gardening, plants and all things green and growing.

I come from a family of gardeners. One of my earliest memories is of a dowser coming to our home to recommend a spot for a garden well. The dowser held her arms out in front of her, fists clenched. She walked the property, crisscrossing back and forth, her hands jerking downward now and again as she encountered likely spots for water. She decided on one and my father began to dig. The water was there and ever since, in my mind, gardens have been linked with magic.water+can+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2bl

Gardens are built on faith. You start with a vision, a hope of what just might be possible. Like a magician, you call forth life by placing seeds in earth and adding the twin enchantments of heat and water. Time bends and stretches when you tune into your place in the world as you search for signs of life, of frost, of predators. You notice the incremental unfolding of bud, to bloom, to fruit. You are humbled by the industry of insects and are entertained by the dramatic lives of birds.

You become attuned to the changes in the slant of the light as days lengthen and shorten. You notice how the plants respond to the rhythms of the season and begin to notice how you do the same.  And you become aware of how, as the creator of the garden, you are merely the catalyst. The whole thing takes on a life of its own, seeds flinging into unplanned spots and flourishing, plants growing larger than the size noted on the plant tag.

Writing, is much the same. It starts with a vision and enough faith to fill a wheelbarrow. You summon characters to life because you imagined them into being. Time loses meaning as you get lost in the details of the story world with its own insects and birds and dramas. You fell the thrum of excitement as the story begins to poke up from the fertility of your own subconscious and to blossom and bear fruit. Characters grow beyond their expected size,  ideas wither under the hot sun of editorial scrutiny. And, as magically as happens in the garden,if you are lucky, you realize, here too, you are just the one who set things in motion. The story runs away with you, the end surprises you and you’ve created something to love out of nothing more than time and ideas.

Do you garden? Do you write? How do you encounter every day magic?

A nearly life-long resident of the Granite State,Jessie naturally adores black flies, 98%

SONY DSChumidity, killing frosts in August and snow banks taller than the average grandmother. When not working on her next murderous adventure she enthusiastically putters in her gardens, combs the beach and throws parties. She delights in mentoring young writers at local schools. Jessie lives with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children in a village so small many other New Hampshire residents have never heard of it. Her debut mystery, Live Free or Die, was the 2011 winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery. Her new book, Drizzled with Death, will be released by Berkley Prime Crime on Oct. 1, 2013.

8 Thoughts

    1. I have had a life-long fascination with dowsing as a result of that early experience. Someday I would like to learn to do it myself!

  1. I miss New Hampshire so much I feel it in my bones. I loved your first book Live Free or Die and have been anxiously waiting for 2nd book. I cannot wait and have already pre-ordered it. I know some of friends and family in NH who have used dowsing.

    1. I understand exactly why you would say you miss NH so intensely. I hope you make it here to visit often! Are you familiar with Rebecca Rule? Her stories are a wonderful way to feel like you are right here in NH once more. And thank you so very much for your kind words concerning my work. I am glad it pleased you and truly appreciate your continued support! Please do keep in touch!

      Dowsing is alive and well in New England. There is a conference for dowsers held each year in Vermont and someday I am going to attend!

  2. At the Boston Book Festival last year, Junot Diaz said that writing a short story is an act of control, whereas writing a novel is an act of faith. You can keep a whole short story in your head, accomplish an editorial pass in one sitting and consider every single word. Whereas with a novel, but the time you are writing the middle, you can barely remember the beginning and you have to have faith there’s going to be an end.

    Another way gardening and writing are analogous is that they both require work and frequent, if not daily application of oneself. I’m willing to do that for writing, but not so for gardening because although I enjoy the results of gardening, the magic isn’t there for me in the work.

    1. I think gardening, like knitting,should involve passion and pleasure. If you don’t love the process as much as the product buy a sweater or visit a friend’s garden.In this day and age gardening should be optional!

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