After a failed suicide attempt, Violet Holt is left in the company of her estranged grandmother and comatose grandfather at their seaside estate in Newport. While biding her time until her rescheduled rendezvous with Death, Violet stumbles across Jack instead. He has his own secrets for why he’s in Newport, and in the process of figuring them out, Violet finds herself reconsidering life.
Violet Holt has already met Death once.
After a failed suicide attempt, she finds herself dumped by her callous mother on the doorstep of her family’s desolate oceanside estate. With only the company of her estranged grandmother, comatose grandfather, and the monsters in her head, at least there was no one to interfere with her plans to try again on her eighteenth birthday.
No one, except maybe Jack: a skeleton of a boy who says he’s there to rake her grandmother’s leaves, yet seems more experienced at stalking than grounds-keeping. She knows he’s keeping a secret behind his gentle smiles and aloofness, but it’s difficult for Violet to be put off by his untimely thin-air appearances when figuring out the mystery of his true identity makes for such a good distraction.
Violet’s trauma is deeper than the wound on her wrist though, and it cannot be simply whisked away in a whirlwind of guessing games and pleasant gestures. She struggles to reconnect with her grandmother, find forgiveness for her mother, and closure with her grandfather’s dire condition, all while battling the strain of it all on her family. Even with a flicker of something hopeful blossoming within herself, Violet knows her birthday plans must be inevitable.
Death wouldn’t be there for her if it wasn’t.
1. Hi, Danielle Koste! Welcome to The Royal Polar Bear Reads Blog! Now, can you tell me something about What the Flower Says Of Death? How did you conceive this book? What was your inspiration when you were writing the novel?
Thanks for the welcome! What The Flower Says Of Death started with the opening scene, which I wrote on a whim one day. I’m not exactly sure how it all eventually became a novel but bits and pieces of things I wanted to write about just fell into place with WtFSoD. I’d say one of my biggest initial inspirations was the movie Meet Joe Black, which was always one of my mother’s favorites, and I knew I wanted to write something with the same subject matter. For anyone that’s seen the film they would know that WtFSoD differs greatly now from what originally inspired it, but I think some of the core feel is still there.
2. What is the most challenging part when you were drafting/writing/finishing the book?
I’d say the hardest thing was being careful about how I approached Violet’s recovery, making sure that it was her own doing and not diving into the territory of ‘romantic interest fixes mental illness’. It was important to me to make sure the reader knew that was NOT what Violet’s story was about. So I paid extra attention there. I tried my best to make sure that Violet found her strength alone and discovered her revelations that would eventually change her mind all by herself.
3. What made you decided to write about a suicidal character? What do you think of suicide general?
With Violet, it was less about me deciding she was going to exist and more about her deciding she was going to exist. I knew I wanted to write someone that I related to, someone close to my heart who perhaps dealt with some of the same things as me. Violet and I share our experiences when it comes to anxiety but she has her own unique personal story of how she dealt with it, and how she recovered. I think suicide is a symptom, of a lot of different things, things that we all experience and often struggle to talk about because they are difficult and sensitive. I think times are changing though and more people are opening themselves up to have that discussion with the people who need it. I hope that readers can relate to Violet in one way or another, whether it’s that they personally relate, or they know someone like Violet.
4. If you could give an advice to your teenage self, what advice would you give and why?
When things happen when you’re a teenager, still in school and stuff, those things feel really big. Everything that happens feels like the end of the world, because your world is still so small. When you get a little older, your world starts to grow, open up, and you get a perspective of just how small your life was and how much bigger it’s going to get. Those things that you think are the end of your world, you won’t even remember them in a few years.
5. Comparing your two books, Pulse and What the Flower Says Of Death, which one is harder to write? Could you explain to us why?
Pulse was more difficult to write, in a technical sense. I needed to do a lot of research and the way that it’s written is much more to the point. Less emotional. That’s also why I choose to write it in 3rd person. WtFSoD is first person so we’re in Violet’s head the whole time, experiencing her emotions with her. Because of that, WtFSoD was much harder on me emotionally. It was often difficult to meet my self made deadlines when writing it because scenes could be very draining.
6. Before you became a writer, you are a reader first, right? Can you tell us some books that influenced you as a reader and writer today?
White Oleander by Janet Fitch is one of my favorite books and in terms of writing style I think WtFSoD comes the closest to it in my own personal way. I think I will forever be working towards the ‘goal’ that White Oleander set for me, personally. WtFSoD is a flowery and indulgent novel at times and might not be for everyone, but it’s the kind of books I like to read and therefore it was the kind of book I wanted to write.
7. What is the most rewarding moment (as of now) that you have been through for choosing the writing career?
I think publishing PULSE and actually having it sell was definitely the most validating and rewarding thing. I had a lot of mixed feelings about self publishing and my writing in general, but I also felt like I was being held back by my past work and just wanted to get it out there for people to enjoy. It wasn’t a matter of selling copies so much as it was just proving to myself that I could do it, so the fact that I did it, and was somewhat successful in the process, was just the cherry on top. It’s been an amazing ride that I don’t plan on getting off from any time soon.
8. What made you decide to choose the path of self-published author than the traditional publishing houses?
I could go on and on about my journey to self publishing (it’s a very very long story) but to make it short, last year I found myself presented with one of those life crossroads moment. I was released from a contract with PULSE and WtFSoD after they had sat for over two years in expectation to be published. At the time I felt like I had wasted a lot of time waiting, and I just wanted to get these novels out to the public. In a way I had fallen out of love with them and wanted to move on with my career and felt like I was being held back by these finished novels that I just couldn’t get published.
I decided to go with self publishing because, after taking a long time to consider all the pros and cons, I realized that self publishing offered more of the things that I wanted at the time. I wanted to be able to take back the control that I felt like I didn’t have for the two years previously, and the method that offered the most control was self publishing. I have to wear a lot of hats sometimes, but it’s extremely satisfying knowing that you don’t have to rely on anyone else but yourself.
Self publishing is definitely not for everyone, and I’m still leaving the doors open for traditional publishing in the future if it fits what I want, but right now it’s working really well for me and I’ve never been so satisfied in my writing career. It’s an deeply rewarding and humbling experience to bring your novel to life on your own terms, and have people love and support you along the way.
9. What is your favourite quote from What the Flower Says Of Death and why did you choose this quote?
“I escaped the house to try and breathe again, and my wandering feet followed the pull of my aching heart, like a bird drawn to migrate south without a sense of why.”
This is probably my favorite quote. I can’t exactly articulate why. I guess because it hits the closest to home for me personally. It was difficult to choose though, because out of all my novels, WtFSoD is my favorite in terms of quotable lines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Koste is a born and raised Canadian, but currently lives with her significant other in the equally snowy and cold Stockholm, Sweden. While working a day job and learning the language of the locals, she spends her free time honing the craft she’s always had a passion for.
When procrastinating, Danielle likes to enjoy other forms of rich story-telling, besides the obvious abundance of novels filling up her apartment and Kindle. Movies, music, and video games are among her favorite time-wasters.