I had the idea for Winter Seedlings ten years ago when I began writing a compilations of poems about child sexual abuse. I had shoved it to the back of a desk drawer and forgotten about it. But in February 2014, when I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, the idea of Winter Seedlings insisted I finish what I started. I am now only a few days away from publishing it as my first novel.
In moving from a collection of poems to a novel, my initial concept was to have two teenage characters, both victims of child sexual abuse, who take opposite steps to deal with the abuse. They are best friends, but seem to have nothing in common.
Jute is boyish and she uses that to her advantage. She has a punk style and becomes fierce in both her appearance and her actions. She can be unpredictably violent. The person she has become keeps unwanted hands off her. The last thing Jute wants is to be seen as pretty. Pretty is dangerous and so is love. Having been denied love, Jute is convinced she doesn’t need it, doesn’t want it. She doesn’t even know if she knows how to love. But if she did, she would love Allie.
Allie is beautiful, wears vintage dresses, and craves approval. She has suffered her own abuse, but she blames herself. She knows if she was a better person, a person worth loving, a person willing to give up everything, a man would love her. Allie doesn’t even care which man, any man will do, just as long as he sees her as the girl she was before she made the terrible mistake that ruined her.
Jute knows Allie is not to blame. Allie didn’t cause her own abuse and she is no less perfect now than she was before. But guilt plagues Jute for her part in it.
When Allie inadvertently puts Jute in danger, their perspectives change. Their illusions are shattered. Their demons must be faced. If they drop their guard and stand exposed and vulnerable before it, will love be able to penetrate their scars and repair their hearts? Or will their self-loathing destroy them before it can?
Other characters will influence the decisions the girls must make. Some have their own demons and need for healing. Others have more selfish desires. Winter Seedlings explores how child sexual abuse is the cold and isolating winter storm in which the most fragile seedlings must try to survive.
Winter Seedlings has grown from an idea I began ten years ago with a collection of poems to a completed novel of psychological fiction with intricate and compelling lgbtq characters. I am excited to be so close to releasing it and allowing my characters to live in readers’ minds.
It was early summer when I finished the first phase of writing Winter Seedlings. About that same time, I contacted an amazing artist and asked if she would do the cover art. Anna Wand agreed. This was the first cover I had commissioned and the first that Anna had been commissioned to do. We were both incredibly excited. Within a few weeks Anna had sent seven possible cover designs. They were all so amazing, but were not quite what I wanted.
I have to confess that I was very hard to work with, this being my first time commissioning art. Initially, I had been afraid to be specific and so I left it wide open for Anna. I thought I was being helpful, but it turns out I was not.
Anna worked so hard to read my mind. And the process was getting frustrating. At the very end of August, we had settled on something we could both live with. I promised that I would make no more changes and I would ask for no more redesigns. I meant it, too. I was learning to be a much better patron and to trust her.
But Anna Wand didn’t go with our agreed upon design. She pulled a rabbit out of her hat, a magical and beautiful rabbit that I did not expect. She designed an amazing cover that was better than I had imagined. The bruised skin, the frozen heart which may be helping the wounds or hurting them, the colors of passion and pain, everything about it is perfect.
So here it is, revealed for the first time, Winter Seedlings………………….