A Discussion With: Laline Paull, author of “The Bees”

Hey Mocha Girls!

Our group was granted a special treat by Laline Paull, author of our May Book of the Month, “The Bees”. Paull agreed to answer some questions about her fantastic novel, her writing process and offered sound advice to budding writers!

Laline Paull. Photo Credit: Adrian Peacock

According to Paull, she began brainstorming the idea behind the novel after her friend Angie Biltcliffe, a beekeeper, passed away. Before she died, Biltcliffe introduced Paull to the world of bees which piqued her interest, and thus began her journey to creating the novel and her main character, Flora 717, a special sanitation worker bee that discovers profound yet ominous secrets about her world inside the hive.

“After she [Biltcliffe] had gone, I started reading about bees,” Paull remembers. “It was so fascinating, I forgot to be sad while I was learning extraordinary facts about the hidden life of the beehive.  And then, I came across the fact of the laying worker.  It was so extraordinary, I could immediately imagine myself in that position.  An innocent criminal, simply for being different, for existing.  But willing to do whatever it took to protect her children.”

Paull spent three months of “solid research” on the subject matter, which included  attending beekeeping conferences and honey shows, online reading, and speaking with scientists. But perhaps it was Paull’s observations of bees in nature, that became her biggest and most valuable resource.

A bee Laline Paull rescued re-fueling on honey she dabbed on her finger. Photo Credit: Laline Paull

One of the best things about “The Bees” is the language Paull chose to convey the world inside the bee hive. Readers were never left on their own to imagine this gorgeous, complex universe of these vital insects by themselves. Each page held detailed descriptions that put you right in the middle of the hive. It’s that authenticity that truly brings this novel to life.

“BELIEVE in your story,” Paull says. “Feel the emotion in your own heart, then write it as YOU feel it.  Don’t be frightened of anything.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  That you don’t do it.  So forget any audience, forget judgment, just look with your mind’s eye, feel your heart, and get it on paper.”

Writing a novel is a painstaking, daunting feat, but for writers just starting out, Paull’s advice is simple: finish.

“Finish it!  And if you don’t get anywhere with that one, write your second!  The Bees was my second novel, but the first one published.”

Paull also suggests joining a writer’s group with other storytellers that will challenge and support your writing.

“What is right, is what is right for the work.  And whether or not other people like it is out of your control.  But be open to learning from your readers.  For instance, if you show a piece of work and everyone who reads it finds a certain element confusing, or alienating, or they all love a certain character, then there’s a good chance you’ve got some work to do and/or something very right.  Trust your instincts above all.”

Below is a video Laline Paull sent to our group thanking us for reading her novel! We wish her the best in her future endeavors.


Support Laline Paull

If you’re looking to dive into Paull’s other work, she recently published “The Ice”, an environmental thriller set in the Artic and the United Kingdom about the melting sea ice and global business interests that are contributing to its deterioration. You can order the book here. She’s also begun working on her third novel.

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Pascale Mondesir

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  • Classy Green

    What a beautiful video and interview.

  • Miccaela Montague

    Thank you MGR & Laline! Yes the way she described the hive was so well done.

  • Sharnise

    Wow! I totally missed this!!

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