Why a Novel About a Flower That Makes You Forget? Part 2
July 27, 2018
Last week, in my post about the origins of my novel about a flower (The Forgetting Flower), I talked about the idea of plant scents, memory, and why I thought working in a plant shop would be a fun experience. Of course, I put forth the question of what life would be like if you had a plant whose flower was dangerous to inhale. And who would care for that plant? How would the person have obtained it in the first place?
The Flower in Question
I’m really into African Violets (or Saintpaulia). They are a favorite of mine. I’ve always loved how their bluish green leaves contrast with their magenta, pink, or violet blooms. They have delicate flower and leaf stems but are tough and hardy. Native to Africa, they deal well with drought, hence, why they’re so successful as houseplants. But they are a basal foliage plant, meaning they don’t really branch. They kind of grow a trunk but those are twisty and low to the soil. So I wondered what it would be like if the African Violet did branch? What would the plant look like? They’d probably be zig-zaggy things, almost like a yucca looks once it’s mature. I liked the idea of a strange, maybe even ugly plant, being at the center of desirability among people. Not for its strange look but for what it could do. And in my scenario, that was make a person forget a memory rather than vividly remember it.
The Plant Caretaker
So who would take care of this dangerous plant? It could be anyone but because of its rare qualities, it would more likely be someone who had plant knowledge like a botanist or grower. But for plot reasons, I didn’t want a character with too much knowledge because then there would be no mystery behind it, so I created a woman who worked in a plant shop. The protagonist would be someone who had a basic knowledge of horticulture but wasn’t a full-on scientist. The next question I had was how would she have obtained it?
Where Did it Come From?
The choices were 1) she created it herself, 2) she “discovered” it, or 3) someone gave it to her. I thought the third was the most interesting since it might offer situations for conflict. Maybe the giver would want it back. And maybe the giver wasn’t the creator. That intrigued me even more. I decided she had to take care of it out of obligation and had to choose whether to use it or allow others to. I created a protagonist who didn’t want the plant but felt obligated to take care of it.
How would that work? Why would one do that? Maybe you’d do it for it for someone you loved or deeply cared about. So I gave her a sister.
A Twins Relationship
Twins have always interested me. I have a friend who’s a twin and she says there’s a special connection she has with her sister, moreso than other sisterly relationships. So I imagined two sisters, one in Paris, one in Poland. And though my twin sister friends in real life get along well, I decided it would be more interesting if my fictional twins didn’t. I wondered what things would be like if a beloved twin hated you.
Renia, the sister in Paris, is estranged from Estera, the sister in Poland. But why? And why are they in separate countries? The answer is the entire story of The Forgetting Flower.
Next week, I’ll post the first chapter of The Forgetting Flower for your enjoyment.
If you’re intrigued by my novel, sign up here to receive a notice when it’s published. And if you’re a writer, please share what you’re working on in the comments. Thanks!
Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.