The books did two things for me: first, they made me want to live in a town like fictional Mitford, North Carolina, because of the vibrant businesses, and sense of community and place; and second, they made me want to write characters who could reflect my own Kentucky community as Jan Karon did her North Carolina mountain experience.
The seeds of those two ideas began to germinate simultaneously. I signed up for creative writing classes around the same time we renovated an office downtown that I would use as an initial spot for my soap making business. A year later, an effort to save a landmark house in Stanford became our first guesthouse.
As I began writing, it became obvious I had much to learn. I stopped writing and took classes on how to write fiction, and soaked up everything I could. Once I finished classes and was ready to redraft the book, we made the decision to move our small soap making business into a retail shop on Main Street that carried other Kentucky products.
As the story of Grounded took shape, so did our small town. We added another guesthouse, and then three more over a period of years until we had five downtown. All along, we felt a restaurant was the missing link, but knew we needed the right partner.
As our downtown businesses were developing, our son went into the grass-fed cattle business and founded Marksbury Farm Market. Our food journey started with raising an organic garden and canning the produce. As our son Preston educated us on grass-fed meat, it provided us with an incentive for a restaurant that featured no-hormone, no-antibiotic pastured meat. With Marksbury providing a source for local protein, it made the jump into a restaurant easier.
Reading Kentucky writer Wendell Berry’s novels around the fictional town of Port William served as additional inspiration, not only for continuing our efforts in downtown but also for my continuation of the May Hollow Road series set around fictional Somerville, Kentucky.