They say you should write about what you know.
Well, Jennifer Wixson runs a farm with her husband in the tiny town of Troy, and she’s a Quaker minister. She and her husband raise cattle at their Highland Farms. She also has a degree in divinity from the Bangor Theological Seminary and serves as an “itinerant Quaker minister” filling in at congregations from time to time.
So she decided to write a series of novels set in a small Maine farming town, loaded with information about Maine agriculture and its history, and narrated by the town’s minister.
The first novel in her series — set in the fictional town of Sovereign, Maine — was called “Hens & Chickens” and came out in August of 2012. The second book in the series, “Peas, Beans and Corn” (White Wave, $16.95) came out in June.
Q: What is the central theme in the series?
A: All have an agricultural connection. The first one is about two women from Boston who get downsized and come to Maine to raise chickens and sell organic eggs. And then there’s a romance or two.
In the second book (“Peas, Beans and Corn”) the main character is a Maine National Guardsman who spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. While he was there he sort of fantasized about the times when he was a teen and he’d hear the old farts in town talking about the old corn canning factory. So when he comes back to town, that’s what he wants to do, get the corn canning factory back up and running.
Q: Did Maine have much corn canning?
A: There’s some history there. Maine had (a significant number of) “corn shops” or corn canning factories, from about 1860 to 1960, mostly in central and southern Maine. They were for canning sweet corn. They were mostly in rural places, because sweet corn breaks down quickly and the factories couldn’t be too far from the fields. I know there was one in Unity, and I think Freedom and Liberty. Sometimes you still see the buildings, usually a big old wooden building in the middle of these small rural towns.
Q: How did you come up with the town of Sovereign?
A: It was my reaction to the greed on Wall Street. Instead of money being the most sovereign thing in our lives, why not have unconditional love be that? So in the town of Sovereign, there are good-hearted people and evil can’t exist. It doesn’t mean they don’t have problems and challenges, though.
Q: Will you do more books in the series?
A: I have two more books plotted out. And then a cookbook, based on the series. I’m a big supporter of small-scale agriculture and the buy local campaign.
The next book will be focused on a character who is in demand — Miss Hastings, a retired music teacher. I wasn’t planning to do a whole book on her, but so many readers asked for more on her. She had tuberculosis as a young woman and met a young man in the sanatorium. It’s a love story.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: