A South African Setting by Miranda Sherry, author of Bone Meal for Roses

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Regular readers of Linda’s Book Bag know how much I love travel and Africa in particular fascinates me. Just over a year ago I visited South Africa so I’m delighted to welcome Miranda Sherry to the blog today as her book, Bone Meal for Roses, is set there.

Bone Meal for Roses was published by Head of Zeus on 8th September 2016 and is available for purchase in e-book and hardback here.

Bone Meal for Roses

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A bittersweet, gorgeously written novel about a young girl with an abusive past growing up in the majestic landscape of South Africa.

Her mother destroyed her. The garden saved her.

Poppy was six years old when she was rescued from her abusive mother and taken to her grandparents’ farm to recover. There, under a wide South African sky, Poppy succumbs to the magic of their garden. Slowly, her memories fade and her wounds begin to heal.

But as Poppy grows up into a strange, fierce and beautiful young woman, her childhood memories start to surface. And then a love affair with a troubled older man explodes her world…

This is a lush, lyrical, bittersweet story about growing up, finding peace, and laying your ghosts to rest.

Setting A Story In South Africa

A Guest Post by Miranda Sherry

South Africa is a BIG country. For a kickoff, it’s geographically big. You can fit the UK inside it. Five times. As a result, it’s also pretty big in terms of climate: we have tropical, humid jungle-y stuff on one coast, arid desert and icy seas on the other, and a varied collection of mountains, gorges, forests, cities, farmlands and savannahs all hanging about in the middle (complete with some pretty big animals loping around and munching on the scenery).

South Africa, too, of course, is big in history (most of it ugly), big in controversy and political upheaval, and big in heart – its massive pulse driven by the hope of its human inhabitants, all trying to do the best they can.

With all this banging on about how ‘big’ the place is, it might strike you as odd that the story I’ve recently set here is really rather small. Bone Meal for Roses is an intimate tale, a gradual, sensual exploration of what it means to feel small in a big world, and how impossible it is to remain small when circumstances force you to find your strength.

Despite there being so many rich and diverse South African locations to pick from, so many moods and weathers to contain the story I wanted to tell, picking the spot was a no-brainer…

The Breede Valley, in South Africa’s Western Cape, is the perfect setting for a story about a child who is half-wild with neglect when the book begins, and then grows up with little real understanding of the world beyond the mountains. This story required isolation in terms of its setting. It wasn’t a tale about big important issues, or political complexities (although, of course, no South African story exists without those threads running deep throughout), it was about a small person and her inner world. It also required a bit of enchantment, and the Breede River Valley has that in spades. Named for the river that runs through it, and known for its prolific wine-production, the valley is beautiful, but it’s also a place of fierce opposites. Picture-book pretty vineyards and espaliered fruit orchards rub up against dry Karoo scrub bristling with scorpions and snakes, and where these worlds collide, something very special happens.

And so, I set Bone Meal for Roses in this valley, and as I worked on the book, this little corner of the country became so important to the story that, to me, it went from being merely a place, to a character. In its own right.

Perhaps it’s this very quality that makes South Africa such a complex place to set a novel. The environment is so intense, so all-encompassing, that it cannot but colour the lives and stories that happens within it, regardless of whether you want it to or not. But whilst all this can make things pretty complicated for a writer, the setting is also endlessly rich and moody and interesting. Just like the country itself.

About Miranda Sherry

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Miranda Sherry was seven when she began writing stories. She then spent time as a puppeteer, a bartender and a musician before becoming a full-time writer.

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Her first novel, Black Dog Summer, was published in 2014 and highly acclaimed. She lives in Johannesburg with her partner. You can follow Miranda on Twitter and find out more on her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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9 thoughts on “A South African Setting by Miranda Sherry, author of Bone Meal for Roses

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