Goodhue is one of my favorite place names. The word itself sparks my imagination, and I grew up listening to family stories set in towns and on farms in Goodhue County, Minnesota.
I realized today that Goodhue County has figured into each of my novels so far. In Dear Papa, Isabelle goes to live with her aunt and uncle in Zumbrota. Little Klein has a fictional setting that was inspired by the area in and around Red Wing, as well as by my great grandfather's stories of being a boy in Red Wing.
And The Luck of the Buttons is set in fictional Goodhue, Iowa. I named the town Goodhue because the family photo that led me to writing the story is taken on a farm in Goodhue County. Look closely at the cover of the book and you'll see a tiny reproduction of this image on the family album Tugs is holding.
While there is an actual town of Goodhue in Minnesota, I brought this fictional Goodhue to Iowa because of my experiences living there when I was beginning to write the story. My inspiration for the main character came from an Iowa cemetery, and I was drawn in by the people and landscapes of Iowa artists Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Goodhue. I could live in a place called Goodhue.
I get the great pleasure of returning to Goodhue County this weekend for the Celebration of Minnesota Children's Authors and Illustrators at the Anderson Center in Red Wing. Come celebrate books and art on Saturday September 10 from 12-5. Let beautiful Goodhue County inspire you, too!