"The Death of Bees," by Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees, Lisa O'Donnell
Harper Collins, Vanessa Stump

Jeff Glor talks to Lisa O'Donnell about "The Death of Bees."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Lisa O'Donnell: Living on the East Side of L.A., I see the same level of poverty I experienced as a child during '80s Thatcherism. I was in my car recently when I saw this little girl, maybe about 7, walking in front of her mother and pushing a stroller. The mother was also pushing a stroller and holding the hand of a small toddler, but it was the young girl that caught my attention. I thought to myself "She's a wee mother" which later translated in "The Death of Bees" as "Wee Maw" when referring to Marnie raising Nelly.

Later, my sister sent me a docudrama about families in Scotland living with drugs and poverty, and again, the maturity of the children immersed in such a heartbreaking situation struck a chord. One child in particular was talking to the journalist about a father who might not return with the groceries for the week and go on a "bender" instead. She worried about Welfare Services getting involved in her life again. I wondered what the girl who waited for her father to return home with the groceries would do if she had had the money to go for the groceries herself, I wondered what she would do if it was in her power to get the electric bill paid, and what lengths she would go to in order to survive parents who had essentially vanished from her life. The thought then occurred to me that these children would be better off raising themselves. That's when I came up with the idea of "The Death of Bees" and had two children bury their parents in the yard making them disappear forever, leaving the girls to their own devices.

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

LO: It was a very emotional experience and I found myself crying and laughing with my own characters. I came to know them like my own family and when I had finished writing "The Death of Bees" I was actually very sad to be closing the book on them all. I missed them for a long time after the book went to press, but like all writers we find new characters and places to love, don't we?

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

LO: I'd love to be a therapist. If I wasn't able to write peoples secrets then I want to hear them

JG: What else are you reading right now?

LO: "Shadows" by Ilsa J.Bick. I love "The Ashes Trilogy." It's a haunting apocalyptic story of survival in the face of Zombies and people in general. It's the people who scare me most.

JG: What's next for you?

LO: I come from a small island in Scotland where everyone knows everything about everyone and so I love the thought of things that are actually kept secret in a world like that. My next book "Closed Doors" will focus on a big secret having repercussions for everyone who keeps it.

For more on "The Death of Bees" visit the Harper Collins website.