- LaRose is the pen name of an American writer of fantasy who lives in the New England state of Vermont, an area known for beautiful woodlands and bucolic farms. Like many of the characters in the old-world fairy tales that she admires, LaRose lives in a forest that constantly inspires her imagination with its mystery.
- When did you first discover your love for writing?
I have always loved stories. The first thing I can remember intensely wanting, was the ability to read. Before I entered elementary school, my mother was friends with another woman who had taught her daughter to read at the age of three. When we visited them, I’d sit with this other little girl, who was younger than me, and she would read her books aloud while I hung on every word. One day I asked her to read a certain picture-book and she agreed, but added, “I’m picking the next book.” This was totally fair, but I hated the fact that I had to rely on someone else to read to me. It felt like someone else held the key to the garden of stories that I wanted to enter.
By the time I was in second grade I had written my first story (about some fuzzy monsters) and decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I used to wander around with stories playing in my head, and whenever I told them to other children, they would listen with great attention – I guess you could say that I started creating and sharing my own garden of stories way back then.
- Do you have a favorite place to write?
A: I write at home (rather than out in coffee shops or other public places). I live in a very small cabin without an office, or even a desk, so I write on my laptop, either sitting on the couch or at our breakfast bar. In the summer I would love to write outside, in my quirky flower garden, but so far I don’t have a spot outside where I can read the computer screen clearly! I hope to someday have a covered porch or awning that will allow me to write outside.
- Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
Not really! But when I was writing the final chapters of The Flower Eater I did write every evening, as I felt the momentum of the ending pulling me along. Ideally, I would like to write every day, but I don’t always find the time, or the feel the urge strongly enough, especially since I have a full-time day job. I’ve recently begun writing short stories and entering them in contests, and the contest deadlines have helped me finish some good stories.
- Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
There are so many writers I admire that this is difficult to answer! I tend to skip around among writers and genres, rather than focusing one. But I know I’ve been deeply influenced by fantasy books I read in childhood, including The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe; and The Hobbit, as well as Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. As a teenager, I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo, and was very intrigued by the scene where a priest declares his love for a gypsy, and begs her to run away with him.
- What inspired you to write The Flower Eater?
When I was a child I read a lot of old-world fairy tales that had been collected in a huge series of volumes that were available in our town library. The intensity, emotional depth, and magical elements of those fairy tales really appealed to me. My parents divorced when I was six years old, and there was a largely unspoken but tacitly powerful belief, on my mother’s side of the family, that after my father left her, my mother never fully recovered from the heartbreak.
In my novel, The Flower Eater, I explore ideas around heartbreak and emotional breakdown, as well as the concept of taking and breaking vows. I’m also very interested in psychic powers and the possibility of alternate dimensions, and those feature in my novel, The Flower Eater. The title came to me first, and hovered around in my psyche for many years before I finally began to write the book. The plot came to me over the course of fifteen years, as I slowly wrote the novel in my spare time. Certain scenes came to me very suddenly, out of the blue, and felt very much like magical or divine gifts for which I am very grateful.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
Here’s the “elevator pitch” for The Flower Eater:
In a world of medieval magic, a young priestess is enthralled by a handsome blacksmith into breaking her sacred vows. A crisis of faith and passion launches her into an astral dimension where mysterious flowers beckon and an evil prince flexes his psychic powers toward world domination.
- Do you have a favorite amongst all your characters?
Trilla, the heroine of The Flower Eater, is still on my mind. Her story continues in the sequel that I’m currently writing. I’m also fond of Trilla’s best friend, Brea, and Trilla’s true love Venn. Recently, I wrote a short story about a mermaid and I enjoyed conjuring that character so much that I may write a novel, or a collection of short stories, about the mermaid.
- Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
Yes. As the reader follows the main character, Trilla, they’ll see an over-confident young priestess wrestle with the darker sides of herself and the world she inhabits. The Flower Eater is about overcoming one’s lowest, self-centered, potentially evil, desires, to see the larger picture and work for the greater good.
- Q: Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
Here’s a brief teaser from The Flower Eater:
In the pattern of the watching crowd, a spot of pale blue began to catch my eye each time I passed it. A gentle color, vividly pale. The Song-Sister’s voice and the Bell-Sister’s music reached a crescendo. I leapt into the final steps of the Dance, twirling rapidly to the spot on the stage where I’d begun. With a flamboyant twist of legs and skirts, I kicked and jumped, then fell to a sudden landing with my sisters. Chests heaving from exertion, arms raised, we were done, our features glowing but as still and composed as the faces of the statues above us.
I looked out into the crowd and saw the swatch of pale blue color that had caught my eye. It was a woman’s dress, worn by a maiden of my age: a stranger, someone from other parts, come to see the new Priestesses dance. Near her stood Brea’s parents and siblings, and her aunt Rissa. Next to them, I spied Uncle Verd and Aunt Fara gazing at me with awed smiles and shining eyes. I smiled back, very slightly, to show that I saw them. Then, suddenly, my eyes were drawn upward, toward the back of the crowd, where a dark-haired man fixed me with his gaze. Harnn was there, staring at me. For a moment, I stared back without thinking, my heart jumping inside me at the sight of his handsome features, fixed on mine, from across the throng. The memory of his passionate kisses flared through me like a flaming arrow. Then I tore my gaze away. The serenity of the Trance was gone in an instant.
- What have been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing The Flower Eater?
Besides finding the time to write, my biggest challenge was dreaming up the plot. When I began to write The Flower Eater, I had only a vague premise about forbidden love and broken vows, and knew I wanted to write in the fantasy genre, but the plot was not clear in my mind. Because I had come up with the title first, that title stimulated my imagination to ask questions that eventually led me to write various plot scenes and twists. There is one major plot twist that I resisted when it first came to me, but the idea wouldn’t go away. Once I allowed myself to take the story in that direction the plot began to open itself, like a flower, in my mind. That was an amazing experience, but it also took years for me to put all the words down on paper. My greatest achievement is that I finally completed the story to my own satisfaction – and that most readers so far have enjoyed it. It also felt good when Kirkus Reviews called The Flower Eater a “magnificent debut” and “delightfully entertaining story” – that was really nice!
- What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing The Flower Eater?
The Flower Eater is the first complete story I’ve written since childhood, and it took me about fifteen years to write, during which I was not writing any other fiction. I learned a lot about perseverance, editing, and trusting my imagination. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with procrastination, so learning to persevere and complete my writing is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned.
- Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Write a story that appeals to you. And if you’re easily shaken by criticism, do not share it with anyone until you’ve finished it to your own satisfaction. If you want to sell your writing, you will have to handle feedback and criticism at some point, of course, but first just get the words down on paper. Then set it aside for a while and re-read it later, as if you were a stranger who knew nothing about the story. If you don’t like editing, hire a good editor.
- Anything else you’d like to say?
Just my thanks for this interview!
- Do you have any future works planned?
Yes, I’m working on the sequel to The Flower Eater, and hope to get that largely completed by next summer. I just finished writing my first short horror story (about an evil clown). And I have a short fantasy story in progress that features a woodland nymph. And, as I said earlier, I may write more stories that feature a mermaid.
Facebook: The Flower Eater by M. LaRose
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