The power of small steps

Things are not as they should be in the overgrown garden of artist, now author, Lee Rawn’s new book, The Solstice Conspiracy.

Artist at work: Potter

Artist at work: Potter

Deep in an unkempt garden, well-hidden from human eyes, a fairy lounges listlessly in an old sardine tin.

Things are not as they should be in the overgrown garden of artist, now author, Lee Rawn’s new book, The Solstice Conspiracy.

But a young family moves into a rundown home on the property, with responsibility for rehabilitation of the garden given to 11-year-old Beth and her brother Chris, 13.

The Solstice Conspiracy is a story about renewal and how small steps can indeed lead to big results, says Rawn, noting her target readership is young adult, but she has received excellent reviews from readers of all ages.

The story revolves around Beth Brinson, who discovers that, although her steps in rehabilitating the garden may be small, her efforts open the door to renewal.

“What can I do to change something? I can’t do anything,” muses Rawn on an often-held belief. “But if seven billion people took small steps, we’d be in very good shape.”

Beth takes on the gardening task with enthusiasm and in doing so, discovers a group of despondent fairies that she  inadvertently energizes, with an unlikely co-operation  unfolding between them.

“I love to talk about what’s seen and then what’s not seen – the beauty of a garden, the beauty of a flower,” she says. “A flower is used all over the world as a gift, in ceremonies, it’s a delicate expression of nature.”

The fairies uphold that aspect of nature, but when the garden runs down so do the fairies, Rawn says, noting two parallel stories thread through her book – life in the human world and life in the magical world of fairies.

But not all Rawn’s characters are happy about this. There  is a disgruntled fairy and bigger-than-fairy imps filled with mischief.

“They want to have a good time and throwing a wrench into things is one of the ways they like to do that,” she laughs.

Laughter continues as Rawn describes how the characters, whom she sees very clearly in her mind, have been her companions for more than 15 years.

“I had an idea, but the characters insisted that was not how it was going to work,” she says. “The characters took over and pretty much insisted the story would unfold their way.”

People and places are based somewhat on Rawn’s own life

Beth is the name of Rawn’s daughter, a very different individual, some of whose characteristics appear in the Beth of The Solstice Conspiracy.

There are also a few sites local folks will recognize – Margaret Falls, for example, a favourite of Rawn who used to visit the area when the walk into Reneker Falls, as it was known then, entailed some 40 minutes of climbing up and over dead-fall trees.

“Some of the story takes place there; it all pulls together,” she says. “But there are so many stories going on.”

An accomplished potter and painter, Rawn says her 44-year-old poet son Craig inspired her to write by telling her she wrote a very good letter.

She asked him if he would write a children’s story, which she would illustrate. But when pages weren’t coming at a speed that suited her, she asked herself, “how hard could this be?”

Very, as it turns out.

Disciplined and committed, Rawn says the Shuswap Writers Festival has been instrumental in helping her develop her writing skills over the past eight years.

When Rawn began writing in 1995, she recorded her stories in coil-bound notebooks.

“Then Delores Mori said ‘we have this word processor in the back, would you like to have it?’” Rawn says.

Not only has Rawn advanced to the computer world with her own website, the talented artist and author has recorded The Solstice Conspiracy and illustrated the front cover.

The first chapter of her recorded book, which should be available soon, is available for listening at

A Salmon Arm resident off and on since 1970, Rawn is still painting and potting occasionally with writing, including her memoir, being the focus.

The Solstice Conspiracy has been published by Lightspeed Publishing in Vermont, thanks to a friend who asked to pass the manuscript on. It is available for downloading at, where a hard copy may also be purchased.

Negotiations are currently underway to make the book available in Canada.

The annual writers festival will roll out May 25 through 27 with a new name – Word on the Lake, a Festival for Readers and Writers.

The group will host their annual general meeting at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 in room 130 of Okanagan College.

Rawn will present her experiences with e-publishing and books on demand.