Flowers for the Dead

flowersforthedead_blog

In a multicolored display of pomp and pageantry, the Flores Family gathers for their annual Day of the Dead ceremony.

But when jealousy arises, and the tradition hundreds of years old threatens to divide the family for good, Trina discovers that she is engaged to a man with secrets she isn’t sure she can live with.

Publication Date: June 2014

 

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INKLINGS: About Flowers for the Dead

I’m the first to admit I’m a little hooked on superstitions, fables, old wive’s tales and all that goodness. Strange beliefs (and the people who believe them) are the perfect breeding grounds for scary stories, and that’s how a lot of mine start out. Flowers for the Dead is no different.

So the original “story seed” came from an article I read on Victorian funeral customs and superstitions which stated: “If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers would bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds would grow.”

Somewhere in my twisted little mind, I came up with the idea that whomever is buried beneath the sunflowers might somehow “sprout” back to life. But then I also wondered…why? How? Do those burying their loved ones know this happens? What if they did? Would they be freaked out by this strange horticultural nightmare, or would they embrace it?

More story seeds to explore…fun fun fun!

Another little tidbit that added to the “rules” for this story came from a dictionary of superstitions: “Giving people bunches of flowers (preferably an odd number) has always been considered to be loving gesture and one liable to bring good luck with it.”

So, I took that idea — that in order to have good luck, there needed to always be an even number of flowers — and applied that to the Flores family in the story. It gave weight to their beliefs, as well as giving my story a foundation, really, in the actual motivation behind the ceremony that takes place.

WHY DAY OF THE DEAD?

The original version of the story was very different culturally. Trina and Luke were still going to visit his family, but they were there so he could introduce Trina to his family before their wedding. I wanted it to be a sort of “reveal” story, where Trina is quickly plunged into this strange rite and is forced to deal with the truth about the family she is marrying into.

By changing the setting from a wedding to a “remembrance” of sorts gave me a culture, a background, and added color & flavor to the tale.

My Mom is a Mexican American so it wasn’t difficult for me to become interested in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I’ve got my own little collection of sugar skulls and the tradition of that day kind of intrigues me in that it’s different to the way most of us grieve.

By adding some of the traditional elements (like the ofrendas) and combining that with the decidedly strange reality of what the Flores family does to remember their dead, I think I’ve come up with a strange tale that hopefully gives you pause the next time you look at a sunflower 🙂

THE TITLE

Originally, this story was titled Flor de Muertos, but I wasn’t sure how that would be received. Dead Flowers sounded a little too goth (and coming from a goth, that says a lot :). And I didn’t want to go with “Corpse Flowers” since there is an actual Corpse Flower (which is called that because it is said to smell like rotting flesh!) and frankly, I don’t think that title has much of an impact. So… I settled on Flowers for the Dead, and when you read the story, you’ll know why.

So there you have it! The life of a story and all its twists and turns from initial story seed to finished product. I hope you enjoyed the read and this little peek into my writing process.

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