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An Interview about The Naked Gardener

Here are a few questions readers have asked about The Naked Gardener

How did you come up with the idea of a naked gardener?

A: At a certain point in my life, I knew three women who gardened naked. They all had different takes on why they did it but all of them felt it was really important to them. So I began to think about a woman who goes to her garden naked and what that might mean and in what ways it was liberating for her and important in her life.

Is the concept, um, autobiographical?

A: No. Except that I love to nurture and grow living things. I must be a positive enabler.

Gardening naked is Katelyn’s little secret, something she only does when Maze isn’t around.  Do you think all women have things in their lives that they don’t share with men, even men they love?

A: Everyone has secrets. I don’t think there’s a woman alive who tells her husband everything. Many husbands aren’t interested. But many women don’t make their voices heard.

and is this part of Katelyn’s desire to remain independent?

A: Katelyn’s need to remain independent is, I think, a defensive posture. She’s afraid of feeling betrayed, of feeling she missed certain signs, of making a mistake that makes her feel bad about her own judgment. I think she comes to find that real independence is an interior state rather than a matter of a piece of paper or a commitment to another person or even a community.

The women floating down the river are kind of a collective.   They even paint themselves and swap stories around a campfire, lots of tribal things.  Do you believe that women have a greater need for this kind of bonding than men do?

A: Men paint themselves up. They just do it to root for a team. I think men are highly tribal. I included this in the book because I think women are reluctant, in our society, to truly let their hair down and bond with other women. I wanted to explore what might happen if women really changed the way they look to themselves and each other, without the standard make up and clothing we rely on to cover ourselves. I wanted their tribal experience to be transformative, which I think it is in more so-called primitive cultures.

Through the course of the book Katelyn changes from a loner to someone who is part of a town, a group of women, and a person who is willing to consider marriage.  What’s the turning point in the story, the place where her sense of herself begins to shift?

A: It’s a slow change, organic like growth in her garden. But it’s during the canoe trip, when she has the lives of the other women in her hands, that she feels her real power. And when she goes back to the garden, it’s with a new determination to bring that power to her everyday life.

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