When I found Rosehead on Wattpad, it instantly stood out as different because it had a personality well beyond the words used to craft it.
Thanks so much, Ksenia Anske, for offering to tell the story of how it came into being!
Do give it a read–it’ll haunt you!
Rosehead started out as a nightmare. No, I’ll go deeper. The nightmare that prompted me to write Rosehead started from a scary story my mom told me, something about her life. It’s quite unsettling, and if you want to read more about it, it’s here. I kept thinking about it, so of course it wormed its way into my brain deep enough to produce a startlingly vivid dream where an old man, a very wicked old man, killed sweet old ladies by luring them into his house under the pretext of offering them tea. What a charming and gentlemanly proposal, right? To offer tea to nice old ladies? That man was growing roses in his garden. Needless to say, as soon as an old lady sat down in his kitchen, he spilled the tea on her “by accident” and offered her to go into another room where she could attend to the needs of her toilette and change into clean clothes. You can imagine what happened next.
I woke up with my heart racing, and couldn’t get this scene out of my head. So I sat down and jotted a quick paragraph to get it out of my head.
A girl shows up at her family reunion and finds out that her grandpa kills women and grinds their bones into meal for roses. The girl is 12 and her name is Lily, or Lilith Bloom. Her father is a whippet breeder and she has a whippet called Panther, silky black. Father is Alexander Bloom, and mom is Gabrielle Bloom (Alexander calls her Gabi for short, and she calls him Al for short), a fashion designer who knits clothes and hats and stuff for Lilith. Lilith likes reading Sherlock Holmes.
After this I felt better, but the seed had been sown. I couldn’t stop thinking about Lilith and her pet and the evil grandfather. Then one day I was walking down the street and I saw a dead crow. I stopped over it, and another scene came into being. It never made it into the final book, but it helped me flesh out Lilith’s character. Here it is:
Lilith is the type of girl who would pass a dead crow on the street and ask Panther: “What do you think, if I dipped it into chocolate, would it taste good?” Then she’d pick it up and sniff at it, when Panther would turn his nose away in disgust. “What? You’re a dog! You’re supposed to like dead crows.” Note: infuse Lilith with interest for everything morbid and beautiful at the same time, very eccentric and sophisticated.
The scenes kept coming, I kept writing them down, until I had close to two pages of them. Some made it into the book, others didn’t. I think those that I cut out I might put into the sequel (yes, I will be writing a sequel, Dogwood). The entire story formed itself in my head before I sat down to write it. It was one of those books that you can clearly see, like a path, and all you need to do is take it. So I did. The whole thing took only three drafts to complete. I wrote it for fun, thinking I’d return to writing other, serious books after this one. Ironically, it became my best-selling book. I have this idea to continue writing about Lilith and Panther, not just one sequel, but many. Maybe make it into a series, similar to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books about Sherlock Holmes and Watson, or to Agatha Christie’s novels about Hercule Poirot. We shall see.
For now, beware of roses. Smell them with caution. You never know what garden they came from. You never know what they will do if you leave them alone in a vase overnight, while sleeping peacefully in your bedroom and thinking you’re safe. And even the book. When you’re done reading it, it might eat you. Rosehead is carnivorous, after all, and it likes the taste of readers. Oh, it likes it very much.