Exploring the “Haunted Garden” – An Interview with Author Sheryl Humphrey

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I will soon be reviewing Sheryl Humphey’s (spoiler alert!) delicious, highly entertaining, and educational little book in Greenwoman Magazine‘s 5th issue. In the meantime, I wanted to post a little tease: Sheryl’s recent self-interview about the creation of The Haunted Garden, for THE NEXT BIG THING interview series.

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One of Sheryl’s paintings, Girl in the Little Spring Flowers. © 1999 by Sheryl Humphrey. Oil on linen, 12 x 9 in. From the Sisterhood of Flora series. Collection of the artist.

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QUESTIONS:

What is the title of the book?

The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I am a painter, but I have been researching this subject for many years in relation to my paintings and my own garden, which has a large role in my artwork. As a novice gardener my first interest was in herbs, and when I read about them I discovered they are rich in folklore. The beautiful, strange myths and superstitions about plants inspired me as a visual artist, and I began to collect obscure and antique books on the subject. I thought that the botanical folklore of death and transfiguration would make a fascinating little book on its own.

What genre does your book fall under?

Nonfiction: Gardening, Folklore.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Haunted Garden is a collection of mysterious old botanical myths and legends, a dark garden of folklore and metamorphosis where humans merge with plants.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About half a year.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The subject itself inspired me, but a grant gave me the confidence and the funds to write and self-publish this book. I am very grateful for a 2012 DCA Art Fund Grant from the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Once you start to learn about these old stories, and how they can be found in cultures all over the world, you begin to see examples of the theme everywhere. The idea of plant/human hybrids seems universal.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Because this is a sampler of folklore, there are no main characters. But I can imagine The Haunted Garden being the basis for an anthology TV series — The Twilight Zone meets Faerie Tale Theatre.

Will your book be self-published, or represented by an agency?

I have already self-published the book, which is available at EtsyLulu, andAmazon. But I would like to be represented by an agency so that I could publish a much-expanded and revised edition, with lavish color illustrations. This would be a coffee-table–worthy collection that would include many of the striking images and additional material that I post on the book’s Facebook page.

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Postscript: Sheryl subsequently tagged me for the series, so I’ll be sharing next week about Greenwoman Magazine.

–Sandra Knauf

1 Comment

Filed under Garden Writers We Love

One response to “Exploring the “Haunted Garden” – An Interview with Author Sheryl Humphrey

  1. Kathleen

    Sheryl – your paintings are amazing, and I remember how talented and creative you were in high school! I appreciate your work because I am a Master Gardener with several plant sciences certifications. Kathleen Killette

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