Some of you may remember the story of how my novel Throwaway began, with a dream about a couple - a prostitute and a police officer, sitting in a dinner talking. I knew they were in love but couldn't be together. It was just a conversation, but it stayed with me after I woke up. I spent weeks obsessing about this pair, wondering who they were and how they had ended up in that diner.
Despite all of the pondering, I felt stuck. The words just wouldn't come. It wasn't until I went home to the Ozarks for a family reunion that I'd find the inspiration I would need for their story to unfold. As part of the reunion, we visited Honeybranch Cave and the Garden of Dreams. Someone in our family knew the owners, and we'd been granted a rare tour of the cave and grounds.
I was absolutely captivated by the place, its history, and the possibilities it held. So much so that I went home and the entire book just tumbled out, taking only six weeks to complete the first draft. The cave and the lore surrounding it became a central part of that couple's story. Sure, I sprinkled in a few details of my own, but beneath the fiction was a living part of history. Beneath the fiction was a real place that inspired my soul.
I haven't thought much about Honeybranch Cave or the surrounding Garden of Dream for a while. Sitting there, dormant while my life bustled on. That is, until a reader emailed me to ask if it was a real place. I told her the story and we talked a while longer. Afterwards, on a lark, I looked it up on Zillow. I wanted to see if I could find pictures of it. The conversation had left me longing to see this place again.
As it turns out, the property is for sale. The cave, the surrounding 193 acres, the homes, the gardens... Oh, to have a cool million in my bank account right now. I can't help it, but a part of me has become obsessed. What would it be like to own the place that inspired the book that changed my world? What would it be like to, on some level, create for myself the world Jessie did for herself?
As I scroll through the images on the listing, there are details I find I got wrong. (I didn't tour the house on my visit!) But there are also pictures that are exactly as I remembered or envisioned them. There are pictures that I could almost see Jessie or Gabe in. Suddenly, their world is real to me again.
It's funny to think that whoever owns this place has no idea how dear it is to me. I'm not even a blip on their radar. Someday, someone new will buy it and they may never know about the fictional lives that sprang from their new home. Whoever it is, I hope they love it. I hope it inspires them to do whatever it is they were made to do.
Because it inspired me.
PS... Whenever I'm daydreaming about a bigger house (which is often these days), Zillow is the first place I go to check out what's available. If you're house hunting, or just house dreaming, they're a good first stop! :0)
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.