Posy Lovell: On History and Inspiration

Novelist Posy Lovell describes what drew her to write her latest novel, The Kew Garden Girls, and why she hopes her readers will be familiar with the friendships portrayed.
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Posy Lovell is a pseudonym for British author and journalist Kerry Barrett. Born in Edinburgh, she moved to London as a child with her family. She has a passion for uncovering the role of women in the past. Kerry lives in London with her family and The Kew Garden Girls is her American debut.

Posy Lovell

Posy Lovell

In this post, Lovell describes what drew her to write her latest novel, The Kew Garden Girls, why she hopes her readers will be familiar with the friendships portrayed, and more!

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Name: Posy Lovell (real name Kerry Barrett)
Literary agent: Felicity Trew at Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency
Book title: The Kew Gardens Girls
Publisher: GP Putnam’s
Release date: April 20, 2021
Genre: Historical fiction/Women’s fiction
Elevator pitch for the book: In WW1, three women take on roles as gardeners at Kew in London, making lifelong friends while coping with personal tragedies, and battling for equality.

The Kew Garden Girls by Posy Lovell

The Kew Garden Girls by Posy Lovell

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What prompted you to write this book?

I am fascinated by and completely in awe of the Suffragettes and wanted to write about them. When I found out they had burned down the Tea Pavilion at Kew and been fiercely criticized for it, I was intrigued. The discovery that women took the roles of gardeners during the first world war added to the appeal.

(8 Rules of Writing Historical Fiction Research)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

The book publishing process is slow generally, but this book came to life quite quickly. I felt like I knew the three main characters—Ivy, Louisa, and Win—and their story spilled onto the page. And actually, it changed very little between my initial idea and the writing of the story. It was more a case of fleshing out the characters as I researched the Suffragettes, the first world war, and the history of Kew Gardens.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

This is my first book to be published as a U.S. edition. As a Brit, it’s been interesting to see how the process is different ‘across the pond’. I loved going through the copyedits from the U.S. editor, and seeing the differences, and I found it thrilling to see the new covers and find out what U.S. audiences would respond to.

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Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book? 

I think the biggest surprise was reading the letters of application written by the real-life gardeners who worked at Kew during the first world war. Of course, I was aware that these were women just like me, but seeing their handwriting and reading their own words was really inspiring. I felt really proud of them all!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope they’ll learn a little about the Suffragettes and about Kew Gardens which is a beautiful place and which—like so many tourist attractions—has suffered due to the pandemic. I hope they’ll find something familiar in the friendship between the heroines, and I hope they’ll be transported to another place and time. Most of all I hope they enjoy every word!

Posy Lovell: On History and Inspiration

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

My biggest advice to authors is always to read. Read widely, read all sorts of genres, read diverse authors, read books you think you might not like, and ones you’re already familiar with. Read anything and everything. And watch television and films with a writer’s eye. Think about plotting and characterization and pacing. There’s a lot to learn from a Netflix binge! 

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