is the author of the upcoming YA novel,
will be available on July 20th in the US and is already available in the UK and Australia.
In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .
Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure -- or kill.
When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .
Here is the interview:
What was it like to work with the Duchess of Northumberland on The Poison Diaries?
The basic premise of the book—that a boy could have the power to communicate with dangerous plants—was the Duchess’s idea. I was brought into the project after HarperCollins was already excited about developing this concept into a YA trilogy.
Before I started writing the book, HarperCollins sent me to England to meet the Duchess and see Alnwick Castle and the real-life poison garden with my own eyes. It was a fantastic experience. The Duchess also took me to Scotland to visit a place called Soutra Aisle, which had been the site of a medieval monastery. There’s little left of it now, but centuries ago, the monks there ran a hospital and had a sophisticated knowledge of how to use plants for medicinal purposes.
I was only at Alnwick for two days, but everyone was incredibly helpful and the trip was a real inspiration. I wrote the book at home in New York, but I was able to use quite a bit of what I learned on my trip in the book.
Do you think it's important for authors/publishers to publish YA books internationally? Why or why not?
The more readers, the better! I’m pleased to say that The Poison Diaries is already being translated into German; I believe the German release date will be in summer of 2011. It’s already been published by HarperCollins UK in the UK and in Australia.
I’d love to see more YA books in translation—including books written in other languages and translated into English, which we don’t see nearly enough of in the United States. It’s important to hear the stories of other cultures as told by their own writers.
It’s also great when a book seems to transcend national boundaries. I mean, isn’t it amazing that kids all over the world know Harry Potter? I tend to be an idealistic person, but I do think it’s possible that those kind of shared cultural experiences can enhance a sense of our common humanity across national and cultural differences.
How do you choose the names for your characters/places/things?
Names are funny. Sometimes they just come to you; sometimes you have to really wrack your brain to find the perfect one.
In the case of The Poison Diaries, the place names are all real: Alnwick Castle, Hulne Abbey, Northumberland. The Duchess of Northumberland named the character of Weed, because it captured the stray, unwanted feeling of a person who has no true home.
The name Jessamine was my idea; it happens to be the name of a poisonous plant, but it’s also a pretty and somewhat unusual girl’s name. I thought it suited the character perfectly.
Where do you do your writing?
Everywhere, really. I have an office upstairs in my house, but I haul my MacBook Pro all around and often take it outside to sit on the front porch and work. In the summer I might work by the neighborhood pool while my son is having a swim, or on the train if I’m heading out of town.
My writing schedule at the moment requires me to write two books a year, so I can’t afford to be too fussy about my work environment. I tend not to work well on airplanes, though. I find them very noisy and cramped. For me, airplanes are good for napping or reading, but not writing.
Which of your books was the most fun for you to write?
Writing each book has been rewarding in a different way, but I’d have to say I had the most actual “fun” writing The Mysterious Howling, the first book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. That’s largely because the voice of the narrator is very entertaining to write; it’s aimed at middle-grade readers and the premise of the series is pretty comical, so it’s all very lighthearted. While working on that book I’d often read something aloud to check what I’d done and find myself giggling away.
The Poison Diaries was a real departure from that kind of book; it’s a dark, romantic YA and kind of a thriller, so it was a different kind of fun. I loved being able to stretch and using all different writing muscles. But I didn’t giggle while I was writing The Poison Diaries, believe me! The story is too spooky for that.
What has been your most fun/exciting experience as a published author?
My trip to England to research The Poison Diaries was amazing. And my launch tour for The Mysterious Howling was really exciting too, on a personal level. It was my first tour and I visited five cities in eight days. The sheer number of kids, teachers and booksellers I met in such a short period of time was mind-boggling.
Writing is such a solitary pursuit so much of the time, so any chance to connect in person with readers is a sincere thrill. I look forward to doing more of that when The Poison Diaries is released on July 20th.
MARYROSE WOOD was interviewed by READING ROCKS on JULY 4th, 2010.