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Larchmont Actress/Writer Shannon Kenny Carbonell Tells Stories with Cactus Arrangements

While writing her second book, Larchmont writer/actress Shannon Kenny Carbonell decided to take a break and began making small cactus arrangements for herself and as gifts for friends. The Australian born actress/writer/mom is working on her second book, a novel, set in New Caledonia. The story follows the exploits of a young girl who finds courage in the midst of civil war that Carbonell said was inspired by her own experience attending a summer camp in that part of Australia.

Her first book, “All is Not Lost.” was a candid memoir of how it felt to give up her acting career to take care of her young family to support her husband, actor Nestor Carbonell of “LOST,” “Bates Motel,” and “The Morning Show,” when he was cast in the long-running television show “Lost.” The family’s move to Oahu, Hawaii for his role changed her career trajectory forever.

“Writing can be like homework,” explained Carbonell. “Especially, the first stage of the book, I’m just sitting behind a desk, it’s like being in a bubble and can be a long, hard process.”

The cactus arrangements became a nice distraction for Carbonell, and they also became another avenue for her storytelling. As she was making each terrarium, incorporating seed pods and found objects, they took on an anthropomorphic quality, inspiring her to tell the story of each arrangement. She decided to put words with each photo when she began sharing the images on Instagram with friends, some of whom commissioned her to create arrangements for special occasions. In real life, she decided to print out the stories on paper, which she framed, creating a plant and paper arrangement.

Carbonell said the arrangements have become a fun and relaxing way to be creative while taking a break from writing and the daily demands of taking care of her family.

She’s also become much more knowledgeable about the fascinating and interesting plants, and has started propagating some of her own. She told us she’s found some of the most interesting specimens at Sunset Nursery, but everywhere she shops, she looks for succulents and cacti. Her horticultural pursuits are definitely not a business, she said – she’s just happy to cover her costs and keep creating.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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