When my agent, Stacy Testa, sold my latest novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, I knew I wanted to find a way to pay it forward. The sale of the book provided the opportunity to offer a quiet and unique respite from the loud, aggressive world most artists are experiencing now.
I have several acres in Kentucky where I garden, but a lot of the land has been left in its natural state to maintain a safe habitat for wildlife, too. It was a perfect pastoral setting to create the tiny home I named Shy Rabbit. The name was taken from Yeats’s poem “To an Isle in the Water,” because I’m an unapologetic romantic and I have an abundance of wildlife on the land, including deer, turkey, foxes, and, of course, rabbits. And recently, beautiful songbirds, Eastern bluebirds, have returned after more than a decade of absence.
I thought it appropriate to give the residence a literal feel that reflects its inspiration and solitude. At Shy Rabbit, writers can take nature walks, hike the trails, go fishing, and just connect with nature. It’s a special place that sparks creative thought. It is my hope that Shy Rabbit will foster ideas that will encourage strong, creative writing.
Writers will be able to relax in a comfortable setting in the one-bedroom tiny home with an upstairs sleeping and writing loft. There’s a small kitchen to cook meals, a warming room to relax by the wood-burning stove, and an outdoor screened-in living space. I was also able to DIY a few projects and repurpose some items while building. For example, I took a dresser from a bedroom and repurposed it for the bathroom vanity sink, and I found an old antique door and added crown molding and paint to make a headboard.
It was trickier coming up with proper stairs to the loft, since I didn’t want dangerous ladders. After facing strict building codes and archaic state laws, one of my builders, Nick Atzinger, got creative and built some very cool Escher-looking steps.
Shy Rabbit is one of the first permanent tiny homes in Kentucky, which has also been a challenge; it rests on a crawl space foundation rather than on wheels (as many tiny homes in the area do). That means there’s been a lot of learning, patience, discovery, and discussion on everyone’s end—from the builders to the building inspectors. We had to navigate dated building codes, incorporate safe and small plans within confined spaces, and move away from the idea of one-size-fits-all housing.
We finally managed to complete the project on April 1. You can see the progression on my Instagram (@writernwaiting). At some point, I hope to open the residency up to all artists, but for now, I’ll be testing the waters primarily with writers until I find a qualified person to select musicians and visual artists.
Shy Rabbit will provide scholarships and a food stipend six times during the year to writers who seek a contemplative and tranquil place to work and create. Our first Shy Rabbit resident is Rosemary Washington, a newly retired Seattle Public Library associate. Future candidates will be asked to submit an application essay, and a winner will be selected. To apply to Shy Rabbit for a 2019 writers scholarship residency, go to kimmichelerichardson.com.
Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky. Her latest novel is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, due out in May from Sourcebooks Landmark.