2014 A to Z Challenge: I is for Iberis

We're about a third of the way through the A to Z Challenge. (Working hard to keep this informative.) Primer: During April over 2,000 bloggers are posting daily on topics that correspond to each letter of the alphabet. My posts will revolve around the research elements that have informed my new historical fantasy, Famine.

Today's letter: I is for Iberis (and Other Plants that Set Up the Scene)


I set the bulk of Famine in the Pacific Northwest because that's where I live. I know the seasons and I know the plants, animals, and colors, the smells and sounds of this part of the country. Integrating details into my scenes--white iberis, yellow tulips, the changing colors of maples and alders--allows me to ground the reader in Bartholomew's environment. My characters spend a lot of time at their home in Seattle, so I made sure they interact with the world around them. Matilde and Mrs. Henderson harvest squashes from the garden, Bartholomew admires the yellow roses that are espaliered to the garden's rear wall, Matilde and Bartholomew ride beneath the green canopy of trees, through dappled light and a gentle rain. I live in the city, yet I'm surrounded by nature, and I want readers to feel the same way when they're reading this book.

They were tough those rose bushes, showing great determination by blooming so early—and so beautifully—despite the rain. The roses shouldn’t have thrived in the shade of the towering pines and maples, but they’d resisted black spot and some blight that had killed two of the established rose bushes by the carriage house.

Somewhere in the deep, green woods beyond the wall, a thrush called—a haunting, exquisite minor chord that spoke of solitude and secrecy. Bartholomew waited for the bird to call out again, but there was only the rustle of leaves in the trees. He turned, and the eerie note repeated quieter, farther, softer but still there.

Thanks for stopping by. Please take a few minutes to check out some of the other A to Z bloggers, leave comments, and see what other writers have posted for I.