The Story Behind the Title: Petrified Flowers

Guest post by Joiya Morrison-Efemini

I was born in the late seventies. Back when I was a young girl—loving all things girlie— there were not a lot of books and television shows that portrayed characters who looked like me. From a very young age, I recognized and lamented this. I wanted to see Brown girls represented (and celebrated) in film and literature.

I loved My Little Ponies because (well, I was a young girl, and they were horses), but also they came in such a vast array of colors, and no color was better than the others. I could watch that show and, for thirty minutes, forget that the real world seemed to only come in Black and white. I could forget that Black seemed to be constantly looked over, and white was broadcast as the default. My Little Ponies was an ideal, for me, of what the world could and should be—a world in rainbow. 

In addition to MLP, there were two shows that I loved, loved, loved, and they each had a Brown girl. Strawberry Shortcake had Orange Blossom, and Rose Petal Place had Iris. Thanks to Mattel (I’m assuming here, people, so don’t fact check me), I had two Brown girl doll figurines that stepped right out of my two favorite shows. Orange Blossom smelled like a perfectly citrusy sweet orange, and Iris smelled like a flower I had never seen or smelled in person. There was no Google for me to just, like, look it up. But, my mom confirmed for me that irises did exist.

Iris was, by far, my favorite cartoon character. Her outfit was a deep purple, and it draped as feminine and majestic as her namesake flower. I loved her! 

As an author of fiction, I must confess—there is truth in everything I write. I never stopped loving irises. It is one of my greatest joys to see and smell them on neighborhood walks or runs. They are all over my neighborhood! 

When it came time to start naming characters for this book I had in mind about six sisters, it was only natural that Iris would be the main character and the remaining five would be named after flowers, too. It fit perfectly with their dad’s love for his garden, and the tending of that garden allowed for his backstory—a lost mother who also tended a garden. His daughters, who were as precious and delicate to him as the bouquet he planted and tended, watered and admired.

So, Flowers, in the title, was a given. But then it couldn’t just be flowers. There had to be something more in the title, something to denote their struggle—their state of mind after being uprooted and transplanted in unfamiliar soil. Petrified. It was a statement, too, of their spiritual transformation—the way God indwelled them and literally changed their composition. I had to show in the title that God rooted them in His stone foundation. 

Thus, I came up with PETRIFIED FLOWERS, a most fitting title for my debut YA novel. 

About the Author

Attorney turned stay-at-home mom Joiya has spent her entire life head over heels in love with the reading and writing. She is always reading something, always writing something (even if it’s only in her head), and passionate about advancing diverse voices so that every child can see someone who looks like her/him on the shelves – in libraries, in books stores, and in their own homes.

You can find out more about Joiya t her website:

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