SHADOWSCENT is a unique take on YA fantasy, with a glorious danger-filled world and an entire magic system built on scents and perfume. But how did PM Freestone put such a world together? Where did she get her ideas? Read on to find out how she went from the perfumery to the page…
* While researching your book, you found out some crazy stuff, and it was…
The coolest thing was that the first mention of a perfumer we have on historical record (which is also the first historical mention of a chemist) is from thousands of years ago. And it was a woman! Go STEM ladies! The weirdest thing was that labdanum, a fragrant resin from the cistus shrub that was highly prized in the same era (and still is today) used to be harvested by combing the beards of the goats that had spent their days wandering through and snacking on said shrubs. Yup, prized perfume and incense ingredients from combing goat beards. Goat. Beards.
* Please share something about your personal connection to the story you chose to tell in your book…
Neither of my parents finished high school, and, growing up in a less-than-well-to-do outer Melbourne area during a time of deep recession, I wouldn’t have been able to access books and knowledge without my local library. It’s not always in the foreground (though sometimes it is!), but there’s a persistent undercurrent throughout the duology of the key roles libraries and literacy play in our access to knowledge. I went on to university and a full PhD scholarship – I couldn’t have done that without Aussie public libraries and their wonderful librarians. I’m paying tribute to that in Shadowscent.
* Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or something in between? Do you even believe in that ‘plotter Vs pantser’ stuff?
I’m contrary – I’ve always preferred ‘architect’ versus ‘gardener’. And if we need to talk in those terms then I’m a landscape architect! I used to be a whimsical gardener, planting seeds on the inspo breeze, delightedly observing what germinated… and then desperately trying to nurture the delicate beauties, prune the overzealous vines that got their tendrils into everything, and locate and uproot the weeds. Now with a couple of published books under my belt, I like to at least lay out the garden beds, prepare the soil, consider the angles of the sun and shade, and what may die off in a frost of reader boredom or confusion. Then I start planting words.
* Your book has been the basis for the development of a themed dinner. What’s on the menu?
It would reflect the Empire of Aramtesh – an eclectic mix of geography and culture drawn together by the importance of scent. A mint-laden cocktail or mocktail for aperitif. Entrée would be a citrus-dressed salad topped with a cloud of delicate herbs. Mains would be a’la carte, with everything from juniper infused stews to rich, spiced coconut curries. Dessert? Lavender panna cotta. And a rose-strewn green tea for digestif.
* What other media inspired you during the writing of this book? Songs, TV, movies, other books…it’s all grist for the mill!
When people ask what Shadowscent is about, I often describe it as if I was reading from a label on a perfume: it has base notes of An Ember in the Ashes, heart notes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and top notes of Perfume. So, you can probably tell some influences there! But when I’m actually writing, I’m all about the music. You can look up the songs that were key on Spotify – here’s The Darkest Bloom playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5NWes9bWF50Wxpw37Iwo9G?si=AVOmmJO8R5qMp0wsCzjt3A.
Thanks so much PM Freestone for joining us for #LoveOzYAbookclub! Hit us up over at the Facebook group page to find out more