April 20, 2023
Nearly a year following her break into the publishing industry, Margaret Beaver, seventeen, returns with news of her debut novel, Flowers for Papa, an enriching coming of age tale centralizing on the estrangement of father and son, the anguish of parental death, the separation of family, and the turbulent elements of first, young love. Penned between the ages of fifteen and sixteen while tackling the prerequisites of tenth grade, Beaver credits the intensive study she endured by requirement of her advanced English course to further her understanding of figurative language and rhetoric, and how to effectively communicate these elements onto the page while maintaining a sense of clarity.
“I owe any and all success to my teachers,” said Beaver. “And I also charge my writing schedule to the flexibility of my school. I was fortunate enough to be gifted the advantages of an adaptable timetable which allowed me to complete my schoolwork at my own pace and succeed far in my lessons to be afforded the time to arch over my computer and not look up for hours.”
1. Reflecting on inkwells., her first work published in June of last year and written upon the encouragement of her ninth-grade teacher, Beaver distinguishes between the curiosities of her diversity as a writer.
“It’s very ironic to me that my first publication was, essentially, a nonfiction,” claimed Beaver. “I always identified myself as a fictional writer; I only wrote fiction as a child. Anybody could ask me, and I’d immediately say, ‘I deal in fiction.’ I almost don’t recognize my poetry, as much as I love it. It’s nearly a side thing for me, with novels being my main specialty.”
2. What differences did she observe between writing poetry and writing prose?
“Big, massive differences. For one, you have total creative control in poetry: you don’t have to use perfect punctuation or capitalization since poetry is more an art than a literature. All discrepancies are essentially excused, and you can format your stanzas and your lines however you please. Poetry, also, doesn’t require as much substance—that is not to say, though, that poetry is lesser. Novels are an entirety; they are a comprehensive and hole-less architecture founded on complete and detailed narratives, the construction of entire personalities and their backstories, and the creation of sometimes multiple converging plotlines. Everything mentioned or foreshadowed has to have a reason, and there is almost always something to be later uncovered. All of this must be mapped out prior—or some things end up fitting together accidentally. In general, novels obtain a lot more requirements than poetry, and so they take more brain power and can be impenetrably exhausting. But, ultimately, I believe novels are what I was truly meant to write. I’ve always had a knack for having a lot to say.”
3. What were her intentions for writing and publishing her novel?
“This novel could technically be categorized as a Young Adult Fiction, only I struggle with that label because it has somewhat of a negative connotation. YA novels are received as if they’re only meant for kids, as if they have nothing truly important to deliver besides empty entertainment, and that they are incapable of broadening your perspective on certain issues and having some sort of development or impact to your person. One book that comes to mind for this example is Looking for Alaska by John Green. It is a truly phenomenal novel that reaches incredibly intimate and universal depths, yet it’s restricted to the kids’ section where not many adults would venture to. For one, I really love being able to bring a sentimentality and a depth to a uniformly juvenile genre, and I much enjoy the fact that Flowers is, on the whole, rather a compound of elements amalgamated to craft a well-rounded piece suitable for the Young Adult genre, but also containing the knowledge and lessons relevant to older adults or those struggling with mental health, self-harm, or suicidal tendencies. As a sufferer of those things myself, I strive always to make my message true and genuine, and especially when it comes to circumstances I closely identify with,” explained Beaver. “When it comes to my aspirations, this novel confronts the great concepts of life—love, meaning, morality, family, death—and my intention for writing this novel is for my audience to reconnect with those uncomfortable yet inevitable elements—elements that are responsible for making life whole.”
4. Would she consider her novel safe for all audiences?
“As much as I don’t want to restrict anyone, I would not. I wouldn’t recommend this novel to kids—and when I say kids, I mean elementary school children. There are some very sensitive and blunt themes that serve as the novel’s foundation, and not only would I not expose a child to those things, I don’t know if they’d be developed enough to understand them entirely. Plus, there’s also some language used throughout that I don’t think parents would be pleased knowing their ten-year-olds learned.
“August Johnson, the main character of my novel, is a very personable and intimate character, and his primary aspiration is honest and humorous representation of the aimless depths of the teenage struggle, and the constant tragedy of fruitless attempts to preserve what is perceived as important. People who can identify with August, being they share his age of eighteen or are around that age bracket, would most likely be the target audience; I, myself, was only sixteen when I wrote this. I would say that any groups relating to such concepts are welcome to my work—and those groups are typically thirteen and above.”
5. She previously mentioned Looking for Alaska by John Green. Are there any other books that belong on the shelf next to Flowers for Papa?
“John Green is my favorite author, so I apologize if I mention him a little too much. As I much admire him and hold his books as major inspirations, I would say my novel resembles most closely with the elements of Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, and expands to the circumstantial turbulence of Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber, the familial conflict of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, and even that of Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It also encompasses the adolescent-setting-yet-mature-themes of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’m very well-versed in the variances of YA Fiction, so I could go on.”
6. Finally, what were her reasons for writing this book?
“My reasons for writing this book stem from a more universal means: we, as a society, so frequently just barely scrape the surface of the critical conversations about our quality of life or completely discard these topics in general. Entire generations have been founded on completely neglecting one's needs because they weren't deemed socially acceptable for the time. Not only do I want to validate aspects that may still be viewed as atypical, I want to bring an honesty and detail I don't often recognize in literature, and I also want to represent characters who are so much more intelligent and powerful than how society reflects on ‘dumb teenagers.’ This is not to say that teenagers don’t do stupid things—people of every age do stupid things—but to have an entire period of our lives and our entire beings be temporarily characterized as if we cannot and do not understand, as if we’re inferior in our own world—it’s incredibly disheartening and doesn’t exactly make the youth want to grow up, knowing what world they’re going to grow into. It’s very important to me that we actively create safe spaces within our near and far communities, especially considering the world in itself will never be truly safe, and I’d like to think my work could be someone’s haven—something I needed but never truly had.”
Flowers for Papa is scheduled for release in early 2024 by Pegasus Publishers and is not yet available for preorder.* You can follow Beaver on her social media channels or visit her at margaretbeaverbooks.com.
* This article will be updated once dates become available.