LUCKY GIRL EXTRAS
Here are some photos from locales, road trips, and adventures in LUCKY GIRL!
First up is The Kim Family Pumpkin Farm. This is where Jane works with her bff, Brandon Kim (whose family owns the farm). It’s a classic southern Wisconsin pumpkin farm (inspired by my favorite one, just down the road from my house), and it’s got a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay rides, a kids’ playground area, a cozy cafe, and much more! The book takes place in October– my favorite time of year– during peak season for all things pumpkin farm. Some of the most important scenes in LUCKY GIRL happen at the Kim Family Pumpkin Farm, and I hope these pics give you a sense of what I was thinking as I wrote.
Jane lives in Lakesboro, WI, a small town outside of Madison that was very much inspired the small town I grew up in and the one I live in now. (In fact, “Lakesboro” is a combination of these two towns’ names). It’s home to about 5000 people; sits right off the highway; and, is ringed by a small lake and lots of sprawling farmland. The town’s central square has a bandstand that is pure Americana; and, old timey shop fronts and restaurants surround the square. As in my town, there are no less than two taxidermists in Lakesboro; and, at least three of the churches in town are now private residences (like the one Jane’s bff Bran lives in). The town square hosts farmer’s markets and festivals throughout the year. All the above photos were taken by me, and I hope they give you a sense of both the quaint weirdness of small town life and the sweeping loveliness of this part of Wisconsin.
Next, we travel with Fortuna Jane to the Aquarium Oasis, a fictional aquarium store in Madison that’s based on one I went to a few years ago (where these pics are from). Jane’s there to help out with a field trip for a bunch of third graders; and, her ex-boyfriend, Holden, is also there. Which Jane is not sure is a good thing or a bad thing.
Check out the blue, blue light in these photos. I LOVE that light and it’s partially what inspired the art that Vicky Chen made for one of the LUCKY GIRL postcards. This blue light is called actinic light and it’s what coral needs to grow. It’s also the kind of light Jane needs, as she says in the book:
“…All the light you’re getting is filtered through layers of water. That’s what the folks here are trying to do. This blue light helps the corals grow and thrive. It tricks them into thinking they’re deep in the ocean.”
Just like me, I think. This blue light is what I need to grow and thrive.…”
Jane goes on a road trip to Madison, WI with her mom on a gorgeous fall Sunday. They stop by a bakery (based on my favorite one in Madison), hit up St. Vinny’s thrift store (see next pic for more info on this shopping trip), and then head to the Farmer’s Market (which, yes, I know, is usually on Saturdays, but it’s on Sunday in the book for important fictional reasons, 🙂 ). After breakfast and shopping, Jane meets up with her grandmother at a coffee shop on Capitol Square and watches kite surfers on Lake Mendota (one of two lovely lakes in Madison).
Speaking of thrift stores: I took all these pictures back in 2019 at the St. Vincent DePaul thrift store on Willy Street in Madison. This trip was entirely my inspiration for both Jane’s and her mom’s trip to St. Vinny’s and it also solidified the motivation in my mind for Jane’s mom’s hoarding. You see, a very long time ago, when I was thrifting in Milwaukee, I remember being shocked by the sheer volume of personalized stuff people donate to thrift stores. Wasn’t that personalized stuff supposed to mean something? How could someone just chuck it? What was the story behind these items?
Jane’s mom is desperate to “save other people’s memories” and she does this buy buying up every piece of personalized junk she can find in thrift stores. (Check out that photo frame on the top left of this collage, the one with half a photo torn out, or the “Rachel” sign on the top right. I’m positive Jane’s mom couldn’t pass these items without taking them home). In the course of the book, Jane’s mom also starts buying up old wedding dresses in order to save them, which is a whole other thing and what finally sends Jane over the edge.
Ahhhhh, the House on the Rock. Maybe you’ve been there? Or seen it on American Gods? If not, then allow me to introduce you to the weirdest place in America. Part museum, part fever dream, this sprawling mess of oddities is truly a charming nightmare purporting to be a house. It’s got hundreds of rooms full of circus figurines, porcelain dolls, pneumatic machines, odd collectibles, and much, much, much more. Including the enormous whale statue pictured above, which makes quite an impression on Jane when her class visits HOTR for a class trip. House on the Rock is the perfect objective correlative for parts of LUCKY GIRL, and it’s a place I totally recommend visiting at least once in your life, just so you can say you made it through.
Milwaukee is a city that has my heart. I went to college there; met my partner there; and, raised my babies from infants into little humans there. I love the views of Lake Michigan, the old mansions along the lake, and the Milwaukee Art Museum with my whole self. You might remember that Kit and Jett take a road trip to Milwaukee in THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY. Well, Jane and Bran also do so in LUCKY GIRL. They head there for a day of “living like we’re rich,” which is the day when Bran hopes to convince Jane not to destroy her winning lotto ticket. It’s a whirlwind day that gives Jane a taste of what life with LOTS of money could be like. They go sunglasses shopping; stop by the elegant Pfister Hotel (pictured top left, which has my favorite hotel lobby ever); and, spend some quality time in the art museum. (I love this art museum cathedral/vestibule area that’s built to look like the prow of a ship. Gahhh, it’s so gorgeous. Check out the rest of the museum here).
Finally, Hawaii. I won’t spoil the ending of LUCKY GIRL, but I will say that for Jane, who aspires to be a humpback whale researcher in Hawaii, this last bunch of photos represents her dreams, which all seem so faraway while she’s in Lakesboro, but might be within reach somehow.
If she’s lucky.