BONE MEAL FOR ROSES BLOG TOUR MIRANDA SHERRY
BONE MEAL FOR ROSES MIRANDA SHERRY
Published 8th September 2016 by Head of Zeus
What the press are saying
Magical Daily Mail
Brings back memories of The Lovely Bones. A powerful, emotional page-turner. Hello
A family story of love and jealousy a fabulous debut. The Times ( UK)
MY QUESTIONS TO MIRANDA SHERRY
Q: How did the title of your new book come about?
A: The first reason for the title is rather a prosaic one: gardens and gardening feature quite prominently in the story. It’s an isolated, lush garden at the heart of Bone Meal for Roses that serves as a sanctuary for Poppy, a little girl who has been rescued from terrible circumstances. She also finds comfort and solace in learning to care and nurture plants under the guidance of her unconventional grandparents, and the title alludes to this. However, that’s just a small aspect of the naming of the book, which gains a far more significant, darker meaning once the story gains momentum. Explaining this further would be a massive spoiler, so I’ll leave it there!
Q: Your new book is about a six year old girl rescued from her abusive mother. Can you tell us about it?
A: Yolande is a drug addict. Her sole intent is to score her next fix, which makes her daughter, Poppy, little more than an afterthought in her life. As a result, Poppy is neglected, undernourished and filthy. She is in constant danger, both from Yolande’s wild mood swings and erratic behaviour, as well as from the unsuitable people and circumstances that she’s exposed to as a result of her mother’s choices. As a coping mechanism, Poppy tries to lose herself in the bright, ordered world that she sees on the TV screen, sitting right up close so as not to see the decay around her.
Q: Where did you get the idea from about a girl being rescued by her abusive mother?
A: I think that mother-child relationships, in general, are enormously powerful, and they way they play out has far reaching consequences on a child’s future. How our mothers treat us when we’re too young to understand anything about life sets the tone for the way we view ourselves and our place in the world as we grow up. I was fascinated by this dynamic, and wondered what kind of inner strength, or circumstances, it would take for someone who’d had a truly damaging start in life, to emerge triumphant.
Q: How long did Bone Meal for Roses take you to write?
A: Two years, including research and multiple rewrites.
Q: What book did you find the easiest to write, Black dog Summer or Bone Meal for Roses?
A: I love writing, I’m compelled to do it, and it’s a thrilling experience to see something emerging from hours sitting at computer, but at no point in the process do I find it easy! Both these books required massive determination and discipline, and there were huge barriers and doubts along the way. Because I’d proven to myself that I could finish something with my first book, I trusted myself more when I began Bone Meal for Roses, but there were still times when I questioned my sanity about even starting such a project.
Q: What will your next book be about?
A: I don’t talk about the story I’m writing until the first draft is done, because that removes some the urgency that’s needed to actually buckle down and finish it. However, one of the major themes it explores is the immense power of belief and perception. I’m fascinated by the way an idea, which really only exists inside someone’s head, can affect and change the course of a life.
Q: You grew up in Johannesburg. Can you tell us what that was like?
A: It was warm and sunny and stormy and full of birdsong. It involved running, barefoot, through the neighbourhood to the wild veld at the bottom of the road and fishing for crabs in the stream and trying to see snakes. I remember thinking that the shrill sound of crickets in the garden at night was the noise that the stars made when they twinkled.
I was raised by academic, left wing parents, went to a very progressive school, and was quite politicized, unlike many of the white kids I knew. Apartheid was very confusing, and I constantly struggled to make sense of the status quo until Mandela was freed when I was in high school.
Q: You came from a house full of books, what was your favourite book at that time?
A: It’s impossible to pick one from my whole childhood, but a few definitely stand out: I loved ‘Hating Alison Ashley’ by Robin Klein, everything by Paula Danzig and Beverly Cleary, and ‘Little Woman’ and ‘The Secret Garden’. I remember being kind of obsessed with Mark Twain’s ‘Tom Sawyer’. I reread it over and over, and tried to start a Tom Sawyer club!
Q: What book have you just recently read?
A: ‘Endings & Beginnings’ by Redi Hlabi. It’s an astonishing, heart-wrenching work of non-fiction about a young girl growing up in Soweto, and her inexplicable friendship with a notorious gangster. It’s a book about trying to understand what could happen in a life to turn an innocent child into a violent criminal. I couldn’t put it down.
Q: Have you met any other authors and where did you meet them?
A: The first author I ever met was Terry Pratchett. He came to South Africa on a book tour when I was still in school. I was a huge fan, and he was as lovely in person as I’d always imagined he would be. I grew up on his books, and when I got the news of his passing I wept as if I’d lost a member of my family.
Just before Bone Meal for Roses came out, I met Ben Okriin London when my publishers introduced us. We had many wonderful conversations about books and travelling and life. He’s a wise, wonderful and very engaging person.
Most recently, I met Barbara Kingsolver at a book signing in Johannesburg. It was a big moment for me, as she’s one of my favourite authors of all time, and her writing has been hugely influential on my own. I was a bit star-struck, and didn’t manage to say much!
Q: Who is your favourite author?
A: Don’t make me choose just one! I’m in awe of Hilary Mantel, JD Salinger, Kate Atkinson, Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver and Maggie O’Farrell.
Q: When you are not writing what do like doing?
A: I love to mess about in my garden, but I also get an enormous amount of joy from my regular pottery class. I’ve been going for years, and it’s still one of the high points in my week.