Stephanie Knipper (sknipper on QT) has signed with agent Daniel Lazar of Writers House.
The inspiration for the book came when I had my son. He was born 10 weeks early, and I spent two months in the hospital.
When we were both better, I started wondering what would have happened if things had turned out differently. What would it be like for a child to grow up feeling that she had caused her mother’s death? What would it be like for a mother to know that she started dying from the moment her child was born?
I got the idea in 2003, but I didn’t start writing then. I waited several years, writing other things first, but I couldn’t let go of this idea. I finally wrote the first draft but after reading it, I didn’t like one of the characters. I rewrote the entire thing. From idea to the manuscript I queried was 8 years, but during that time I put it aside to do other things, like adopt three children from China and get my masters in English.
Ten-year-old autistic Antoinette Martin lives on a flower farm in Freedom, Kentucky where marigolds sprout when the soil tastes grief and chokecherries push through the ground at the sound of a lie. Antoinette can’t speak, but she can heal anything and anyone. Flowers with root bores, neighbors with cataracts and arthritis, even her mother, Rose, whose heart is giving out.
But Antoinette’s magic never lasts. No matter how many times she fixes her mother, Rose is still dying, and worsening seizures threaten to kill Antoinette before she can permanently heal Rose. Needing a guardian for Antoinette, Rose turns to her estranged sister, Lily, who is more comfortable with numbers than people. Lily doesn’t know how to mend fences with Rose, and she has no idea how to take care of a young girl with Antoinette’s abilities—and disabilities.
Lily’s arrival changes everything except hearts. But Rose does not have long. And Antoinette is not safe from those who wish to abuse her powers. The women cannot go on as strangers living in the same house, but must come together and learn to be a family again.
BROKEN, complete at 95,000 words, aims to appeal to readers who enjoyed the magical realism in “Garden Spells” and the quirky characters in “The Curious Incident of the Dog at Midnight”. It is told in alternating point-of-view chapters from the three main characters: Antoinette, Lily, and Rose.
I have a Master’s Degree in English, and my short story, “Modeling Life”, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In addition, I am a Master Gardener and write feature articles for Kentucky Gardener Magazine.