“So, you have a creek at your farm?”
It’s not an unreasonable question, really, given the name of my farm is Dark Creek Farm. In fact, there is no creek (though seasonal springs burble up each winter as soon as the water table rises and the ground is sufficiently saturated). The place isn’t really that dark, either (though, there are some pretty big trees on the south side of the property, beneath which it’s lovely and shady in the summer).
The name is a strange fusion of fiction and wishful thinking, life imitating art imitating life…
The original 1997 cover for Rebel of Dark Creek. The book went on to be reprinted several times with various new cover designs. It was also published in Sweden and Denmark, where the covers looked completely different to those that came out in North America.
When I wrote my first novel for kids (about some horse-obsessed kids living on Vancouver Island) I needed a name for the farm where the main character boarded her horse. To keep my fictional world anchored in its own reality I based the made up barn and small farm on the place where my daughter and I were riding at the time. That farm didn’t have a creek running through it either, but was an otherwise perfect setting for my fake world. I shifted a nearby creek over a few hundred yards and gave it a new name, “Dark Creek.” I can’t even remember now why I chose that name, but it stuck and became part of the title in several of the books in the StableMates series. Rebel of Dark Creek was the first book to come out back in 1997 and six more books followed over the next several years.
Rebel of Dark Creek – the Swedish edition
It wasn’t until 2003, though, that I wound up moving two horses here to our place after the original farm on which Dark Creek Farm in the books was sold. At that point, I didn’t really think of our place having a farm name, per se, but not long after the horses arrived and fences and outbuildings were being built that other animals started materializing… a couple of goats, an ancient pony, some ducks, a few chickens, some bantams, then hogs, turkeys, and more chickens… and sheep. The garden expanded – and then expanded again – and again. More fruit trees were planted, we opened the farm stand, and started a CSA. We produce a whole lot of food now from a very small piece of land (and some fields I lease around the neighbourhood) and at some point in that snowballing process we needed a farm name.
Dark Creek Farm seemed appropriate. It had always been a dream of mine to farm – and since the original Dark Creek Farm didn’t exist except in my imagination, I thought it entirely appropriate I steal the name back and use it for my new farm reality. I’m not sure if I’ll write any more Dark Creek Farm books in the original StableMates series – probably not. That world was before cell phones. Before google. Before email and the internet and ipads and all that stuff that is impossible to ignore when writing contemporary fiction set in the here and now. There were more stories planned, but I got a bit distracted with other books and series and projects and, of course, the growing farm and I suspect that Jessa and Rebel and all the other kids and ponies in those books are stuck without a season finale. Though, if I wait long enough, I could add another couple of installments and those books would come out as quaint historical fiction from back in the day before all that Internet stuff took over the world.