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Potato Ivy Inspires Novel

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Interview with Maine author, Mark LaFlamme:


Q: Is your new novel really about plants? 


A: Yes. The stars of Vegetation are from the world of flora. There are small plants, like the tiny spores that cause all kinds of nastiness inside the human body, to giant cacti with barbs that can really put the hurt on a man.


Q: So, you must have a green thumb.


A: Not at all. I’ve always liked greenery but we’ve had a troubled past. The first plant I ever owned was a Venus Fly Trap. I swear the thing bit me, so I fed it to a dog.


Q: What inspired you to write this novel?


A: I was out smoking in the backyard one night when something slick and cool slid across my bare ankle. You know the sound a sliding sneaker makes on a polished gymnasium floor? That’s what my scream sounded like. And when I tried to flee, I ran face first into a lilac bush. It occurred to me then that a person trying to escape from the plant kingdom really has no place to run.


Q: What was it that attacked you in the yard?


A: A potato ivy. Harmless by day, pure predator in the dark. I went out the following afternoon and made friends with it. I’m no fool. And by then, I already had five chapters written.


Q: If you’re afraid of plants, why do you have a garden?


A: It’s my wife’s garden, wiseass. Although I dug a lot of the holes. I like digging.


Q: In “The Pink Room,” a lot of animals were mistreated. Is it the same in this one?


A: Nope. I can assure everyone that the only one abused in this book is a pompous, self-righteous man who truly has it coming. My, how that chump suffers.


Q: What’s your favorite plant?


A: Right now, it’s the Liatris spicata, also known as a gayfeather. A harmless looking thing, it reminds me of a fuzzy, purplish microphone. The gayfeather doesn’t look dangerous, but it proves to be a formidable foe in “Vegetation.”


Q: So, do you drink when you write? Or what?


A: Nope. Not a drop. If I got liquored up and tried to work, I’d end up writing exactly what’s in my head. And nobody, but nobody, wants to read that.


Q: Now that you’ve tackled plants, will your next novel be about quilting or something?


A: It could be. I wanted to write about a haunted school, but quilting scares me a little bit, too. The people who quilt are like a cult. They huddle together and speak in their own, archaic language. I think they’re plotting something.


Q: I’m getting freaked out.


A: Me, too. Let’s quit this interview.

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