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Vandalia natives Lenora Henson and Shane Bowen will be at Words, Wicks & Wood on Gallatin Street from 10 a.m.-noon this Saturday. They will be there to meet the public and to sign their books, “The Wicked Garden” and “Cops & Robbers,” respectively.
Meet Lenora Henson
Lenora Henson, author of “The Wicked Garden,” has lived most of her life in Vandalia, where she was born to parents Jimmy and Eleanor McNutt. She has spent 17 years in the field of journalism, with an emphasis on graphic design.
Henson said that while she has written most of her life, she had not written novels for 10 years. “Four years ago,” she said, “the fiction flame was rekindled, and three years ago, I began writing ‘The Wicked Garden series,” which she expects to be a six-book saga. She said that several factors inspired “The Wicked Garden” series.
“I had been doing some extended genealogical research on the McNutt family, and had traced our family line to Ireland, where we stayed for a short period of time before coming to America.”
She learned that before the migration to Ireland, they were known as the MacNaught’s or MacNaughtons, and they were indigenous to Scotland.
“In fact,” she said, “I have a loose line to at least the 15th century. This sparked my curiosity, and I have felt a deep connection with this part of my ancestry ever since.
“At about the same time I was doing this research, I was also ready to begin a new writing project. After a meditation, the name Gretchel was fully present in my mind, and I had my main character … and she was a red-headed Scot.”
She said the garden part of “The Wicked Garden” was actually inspired by a poppy garden at her late brother’s property. “I have always been captivated by that little circle of flowers, and it became a catalyst for the mysterious garden in the book,” she said.
She also drew inspiration from “from the beautiful Southern Illinois landscape. “A lot of the book takes place at a fictitious location known as Snyder farms,” she said. “I used the area where I grew up as the backdrop, because I love this countryside, and I knew I could convey this feeling of reverence in the books. Carbondale also makes a steady appearance in the book.”
The theme of the book is healing, and Henson asks the question, “Is it possible for the present to heal the past?”
Lenora was raised in a very creative family, with all having different talents. She feels writing and design are her special talents.
Shane is also a native of Vandalia, and graduated from Vandalia High School in 1995. His parents are Bob and Ann Bowen.
“I grew up in the First Baptist Church of Vandalia,” he said.
He has written four books, the latest entitled “Cops & Robbers.”
“It is a fictional police story about Boyd Craig, the retired chief of police for the city of Moyenne,” he said.
Although his newest book will be introduced and featured Saturday, he will also have “The Order,” “The Revelation” and “Out of the Darkness” available.