Question: Tell us what The Wilted Flower District is all about.
Martin Niewood: The Wilted Flower District is the story of Violet Noone who at sixteen is thrown into a world of deception and betrayal when her sister, Ophelia, missing and presumed dead for the last four years, suddenly reenters her life. The story takes place in a fantastical world of the Domain also known as the afterlife. Ophelia’s reappearance sends Violet down a rabbit hole causing her to question everything in her life. The book is a fun mystery in an unusual setting that will hopefully force readers to question things about their lives and may provide some unexpected answers.
Q: This is the second book in your Forgotten Violets series. How do the books relate and can they be read as stand alones or do you need to go in order?
Niewood: The books are connected through the Noone family with Forgotten Violets being seen through Meadow Noone’s eyes and the sequel, The Wilted Flower District, experienced through the point of view of her daughter, Violet. With that said because of the gap in time between the first and second book it allows the reader to experience each book as a stand alone with a light connection attaching the two books together. There is no need to read the books in order as the reader will completely understand the events of both novels, regardless of the order in which they are read.
Q: Your books provide a “non-traditional view of the afterlife.” What does that mean, and what can readers expect?
Niewood: I think that when people ponder about the universe and the afterlife they have a cemented image of what happens after you die. One of the great things about The Wilted Flower District is that it causes the reader to question those beliefs and gives you a fantastical world where anything is possible. Let’s face it, the only thing that any of us really know about death and an afterlife is that eventually we all have to face it and face it alone. Of course, not everyone believes in the hereafter but many take comfort in the existence of another dimension, which I call the Domain that allows our spirits to continue to grow after death. In The Wilted Flower District, I tried to create a world in which the protagonist, Violet, is able to face challenges that allow her to confront her shortcomings and develop her strengths.
Q: What relevance does The Wilted Flower District have to teens today?
Niewood: I think that the beauty of The Wilted Flower District is that it allows the reader to focus on the important things in life. The Domain is a world filled with negativity and adversity that mirrors our own while simultaneously offering the hope that regardless of what happens in life, you need to keep moving forward. Many of Violet’s challenges are shared by teens today. Although most teens don’t encounter siblings that they believed to be dead or be stand accused of horrific murders, all teens do face situations in which their core beliefs are challenged and they feel misjudged by adults. Like Violet, teens are apt to keep secrets from their parents and experience feelings of exclusion when she unravels her brother’s lies. The teen years can be very confusing but somehow like Violet, we survive the angst and insecurities and emerge, hopefully, as better people.
Q: What inspired you to write The Wilted Flower District in first person?
Niewood: I thought the best way to experience the massive and unusual world of the Domain and specifically the city of Fairhaven where the story takes place was through Violet’s eyes. I believed that the audience would develop a deeper connection with Violet if they could experience the crazy and mysterious events through Violet rather than from an omniscient third person point of view. Since this is a mystery, I wanted to limit what the reader knew to what Violet knew or thought that she knew.
Q: Although you stayed in first person, why did you change from Meadow’s to Violet’s point of view?
Niewood: After I had written Forgotten Violets, my initial thought was to continue with Meadow’s journey in the Domain. However, when I sat down and started thinking about it Fairhaven had modernized into a very different world and in order for the story to work in this new city, there had to be a large time gap in my story. By then, Meadow would have been too old to serve as the protagonist in a YA novel, so I decided to tell the story through the eyes of her daughter, Violet. For the Forgotten Violet series, this also allowed me to expand my worldview and for future books to delve into the mystery of Meadow’s disappearance.
Q: What do you want the reader to take away from this story?
Niewood: The thing that I want readers, especially teens, to take away from this story is to believe in yourself because we each shape our own reality and control our own destinies. Today’s world is filled with hate and negativity but I believe that Violet can show people that if you remain positive and believe in yourself you can accomplish whatever you can dream. There is no denying that indifference and greed permeate our world but each of us has the power to transform our environment positively with determination and kindness.
MARTIN NIEWOOD lives just outside of Philadelphia where he is a full-time writer. He attended Johnson & Wales University before moving to Los Angeles to work in the talent industry. An avid sports fan, Niewood loves all Philadelphia teams but especially the Eagles. His writing partner is his dog, Mattie.
Niewood’s debut novel Forgotten Violets was released in 2017.
The Wilted Flower District will be available on Amazon and in select brick-and-mortar retailers as of January 2019.