Plenty of books have been written about gardening and landscaping 101, but none are quite like Kiss My Aster by Amanda Thomsen. The title alone should clue you in that Thomsen’s approach is unique. Flipping through the pages it becomes more apparent. It’s a graphic novel. It’s a choose your own adventure book. There is a pink unicorn and a vampire reference, but there is also great information for those interested in gardening. Much of it is geared towards beginners, but seasoned gardeners will find it useful as well. This book is in a league of it’s own…so it’s certainly worth a look.
In the latest issue of Greenwoman Magazine, Sandra Knauf interviews Amanda Thomsen. It’s a lively conversation, in which Thomsen reveals how the book came about, among other things. What follows is an excerpt from that interview. Get your hands on a copy of the magazine for the full conversation.
Knauf: Who or what inspired you to become a gardener? A writer?
Thomsen: When I was little I wanted to do three things when I grew up: 1. Be a writer, 2. Recycle, and 3. Wear red lipstick. Happily, I have achieved these three goals. Although I always wanted to be a writer, I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make that happen growing up. No one pointed me in the right direction. I’ve taken a few writing classes, but overall nothing that was memorable. I have always been super creative and have just looked for ways to demonstrate that!
My parents were the prototypes for yuppies. For some reason, and I think it was my dad’s Indiana upbringing, they were SUPER into Crockett’s Victory Gardening on PBS and did, literally, everything he did. We have a 30′ x 50′ victory garden each summer and I just grew up in it. They had a greenhouse added to the house, canned up everything from applesauce to giardiniera. It was a delicious way to grow up, and I didn’t realize that EVERYBODY didn’t have that until I was, like, 20. Maybe older. I didn’t realize there were jobs in gardening and horticulture.
Knauf: You have this funny, sassy, sexy, free-spirited, curse-word-strewn, delightfully naughty blog for a few years, and you’re a landscaper, and suddenly you’re blogging for Horticulture magazine’s website, and now you blog for Fine Gardening. I don’t want to disrespect these fine publications, but, well, they can be at times just a bit, shall we say, dry. How did you get together with them?
Thomsen: Horticulture asked me to join this contest they were having for a blogger. I did and I won. It was hard on me to blog exclusively for them and not on my personal blog at all – not even about personal stuff – but that was the deal. Fine Gardening has been a great, laid back home for my more horty things to say. I leave the eff-bombs at the door and get my freak on over there and I’ve loved it. AND they’ve given me a chance to write articles, which is seriously one of my happiest achievements in life…
All these magazines KNOW that if they are going to survive, they have to get new, younger readers, and I’m happy as a salami at a mustard party to help do that for them.
Knauf: How did the idea for a book come about?
Thomsen: I was dreaming about how to make books more interactive when I thought of the idea. Originally it was going to be SO comprehensive that I thought I’d need help writing it. You know, a backyard bible of sorts. Then I got this wack-a-doo idea of having a hipster gardening book that was illustrated with, you know those terrible IKEA instructions with no words and very vague symbolism? I wanted to do it like that. Carleen Madigan at Storey literally found me in a dumpster and asked me if I had ideas for books. We met up in Boston while I was there speaking, and I just LOVED her. She was totally the midwife of this book. I literally wrote the whole book for her and if I could make her laugh then I was golden. I wrote the whole book, and then they found the illustrators, which completely adds everything. The illustrations are way better than the writing!
Visit Amanda Thomsen’s blog: www.kissmyaster.co
Read the entire interview and more at Flora’s Forum.