I have the utter joy of kicking off the Grow blog tour today! The brilliant author, Luke Palmer, is here to take over the blog!
A white supremacist group and its violent leader targets teenage Josh, who is struggling to cope with his father’s recent death at the hands of terrorists. Will he find the strength to resist, or will his unlikely relationship with Dana give them both the escape that they so badly need? An unflinching and muscular exploration of grief, and what we plant in the spaces that loss leaves inside us, Grow is a tense and compelling novel of our current social landscape.
I finished writing Grow long before the first lockdown in 202o. But in those first few weeks after the announcement came, when the skies above my little corner of the world opened up clear and blue long into May, I went back again and again to those moments in Grow where Josh finds solace in the quiet simplicity of a garden.
Grow is a book about winter, about the sleeping garden and its packed earth rimed with frost. It is a book about a fallow time for the soul, too. The landscape of Grow, in terms of both psychology and setting, is distinctly wintery, full of harsh winds and persistent drizzle. There I was in glorious spring sunshine, revisiting the manuscript; the last of autumn’s butterflies and the smell of leaf mulch, the hard ground and the low sun of the new year. Why?
That fallow period when the ground takes a deep inhale is my favourite time to potter around in my small patch of garden. Before the long out-breath of the spring and the earth’s warming, when the beds are dark and bare, every hint of colour is a gift. Gardening in winter is also a meditative practice. One that is based, I think, on a kind of faith:
that time will take its course; that life will – despite appearances – endure; that these things too shall pass.
Last spring, as the news went from bleak to bleaker, as roads remained silent, these messages were a necessary tonic and provided a kind of healing.
I didn’t do much gardening in 2020; just watched in a half-stupor as the first green shoots started to sprout. Weed or flower, I didn’t care at that point, happy to let the slow passage of time reveal itself in the unfurling of each leaf, each stem, each slowly opening bud as the world remained under a different kind of winter.
As I’m sure we all did, I took the same walks with my children every day and watched the small shifts in all the green spaces near my home. I watched as they added up and up and up to huge changes in colour and shape, in light and atmosphere. I tried hard to notice everything and commit it to memory. I was unable to write much; creativity requires a level of stability and faith (that word again) in a future in which the work might exist. That was hard to come by. But watching the world grow, and tending to it where I could, definitely restored something in me.
I don’t consider myself much of a ‘gardener’ in the Monty Don, Alan Titchmarsh sense. I don’t obsess too much over my planting, nor spend many hours plucking out weeds. I’m pretty content to let nature take its course, tinkering only where I might be useful. Most of the time, I just try to notice as much as possible. I think we should all do this more.
Grow isn’t a book about lockdown, and nor is it a book about gardening, but it is a book about tending to things, about nurturing and being nurtured, about the forces that you allow in to your life and how to tell which are choking weeds and which will flower. It’s about Josh’s own fallow season, about how he endures that time, and how he might breath out his own spring when the time is right.
Maybe it will plant something in you.
A massive thanks to Luke for sharing this with us! I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on Grow! Grow is out today!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour – details below!