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LUSH by Ann-Marie Yerks
June 30, 2021
LUSH by Anne-Marie Yerks
Brief explanation of rating“Understanding that we too will someday be nothing but dusty fossils of things we owned and used.”
This felt to me like everything the story was about -- living, remembering, honoring, learning -- a testament to the idea that the past is never that far behind us. Isla is a complex, thought-provoking character who readers will fall in love with by the end of the first chapter. She braves and endures so much in order to save not only herself, but all young women in her world. Heartfelt, probing, questioning, and above all else, inspiring our courage to be free…lovers of post-apocalyptic stories will devour this is one sitting.￼
Really, a beautiful story.
Author Interview - Anne-Marie YerksQueenie D had the privilege of talking with Anne-Marie about her most recent novel. We hope you enjoy!
Q: How did you come up with the premise for LUSH?
A: The premise began with short story I wrote and published in Five on the Fifth literary journal. The story, called “Secret Fields,” was about some futuristic hippies who grow a version of marijuana on a hidden farm. They have a few cats who run around in the fields and, as a result of absorbing psychoactive pollen into their coats and licking it off, these cats develop psychic abilities. I wanted to do more with them, so I put the same idea into a novel I’d started about a girl who lived on a farm and wanted to get away. The story developed over time with some elements gaining importance and others losing steam. The cats, for example, dwindled out because there just wasn’t room for them.
There’s actually a lot of my own history in LUSH. My family owned a centuries-old farm, a place I always wanted to understand but also avoided. Like Isla, I grew up with the uneasy sense of living the past and the present at the same time. Experiencing that duality felt shameful sometimes, but as of today I’m sort of proud of it. I now realize it’s not that uncommon of an experience, as some readers have told me they’ve felt the same way about their own families.
A: There’s not a day I don’t marvel at humanity’s shortsightedness. We live with
little thought about what came before us, that the details of our existence were built by generations now completely forgotten and physically extinguished. Isla’s role in historical reenactment is her uncomfortable thorn, but it’s also her gift because she understands the power of what lies behind her. If all of us reached backward instead of forward sometimes, I truly think we’d have a better picture of what’s happening right now with climate change and other pressing issues.
A: When I first started writing as an MFA student in the ‘90s, the term “beta reader” didn’t even exist. So somewhere along the line I learned authors were supposed to conduct a beta-reading process in which people you don’t know read your manuscript and do a critique. Usually it’s an exchange thing, but since I teach creative writing I read plenty of stories and don’t have time for more. Enter Fiverr, where you can hire beta readers on a budget!
I probably had six or seven beta readers from Fiverr through various stages of LUSH. Their remarks initiated some heavy revision. For example, some said they disliked the dialogue in LUSH because it was so different than how people speak today, more spare and stiff. Other readers didn’t mind and even liked it. I went back and restyled the speech quite a bit, trying to strike a balance.
A: One of my YA novels, Not That Fat, is under representation at More Zap Literary. I’m also working on another cli-fi novel called The Breathing Swan, which has similar themes to LUSH but is longer and more romantic. It’s in third person, a relief after writing first person for
Learn more about Anne-Marie:
Discussion Questions1. Discuss your feelings on the Cherish the Past exhibit.
2. Who was your favorite secondary character in the novel? Explain why.
3. How are the themes of male dominance and females as procreators relevant in today's society?
4. Would you like to read a sequel to this story? Or perhaps a prequel? Discuss.
Something Interesting...Anne-Marie never intended to write speculative fiction. Her time as a grad school professor changed that. Read the story in her own words here: On Revision & Reality.
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