Irene Bennett Brown is the author of nine books for children, several of which are set in the Midwest. She based Before the Lark loosely on the correspondence of an early 1900s laundress-turned-homesteader whose six-year-old daughter harvested a ton of potatoes. Brown says, “Jocey—child of my imagination—became as real to me as any living person. I could only follow this tough, practical, and enterprising youngster as she met head-on the challenges before her. She had already been doing Gram’s work as a laundress, before she tackled running the small Kansas farm on which she’s pinned her hopes. Why wouldn’t she succeed?” Brown lives in Jefferson, Oregon.