As a writer it helps if you can write from what you know. I grew up on a farm in southeast Iowa with a garden to tend every summer, surrounded by crops and woods. I had some really tough jobs like baling hay, chopping firewood and detasseling. I even had the privilege of raising my own pigs for market. All of this played into my first hand knowledge of the struggle of life on the frontier.
In addition to farm life I was also very fortunate to be exposed to the state's frontier history through organizations like Iowa's Living History Farms and the Old Threshers Reunion While I was growing up these organizations brought the frontier experience to life. Since my grandfather was one of the original Old Threshers I spent every labor day weekend transported to the past where frontier life was on display. I learned about everything from pickling and canning to how to tan hides from the various home makers and artistans choosing to live the frontier life for real. There's something about watching a family working together in primitive conditions that helps you appreciate modern conveniences.
In the midst of all of this, every week like clock work we went to church at New Sweden United Methodist church. The church had been running since the 1860's so it's history dated back to the Iowa frontier. The church's history mixed with lessons learned at the Old Thresher's reunion and the Little House on the Prairie books helped build concepts in my mind for the church and congregation in "Light of Mine" as well as the conflict that ensures. It is this background that I brought with me as I crafted the story of Lauren, Aiden and Ethan's fight against the darkness.