Welcome to the house among the cactuses

Tweet‘DESERT FLOWERS’ is out today in the United States, UK, Australia and Canada. So today is the day when I can finally open the door to the house where my new novel takes place. A house lost in the remote landscape of the Baja California Desert, Mexico, where an American family has decided to build its home. Here, Elmer and Rose take care of their five daughters, all of them with flower names: Edelweiss, Iris, Melissa, Daisy and Dahlia. I’m thrilled to be able to invite you into their home, to open the screen door on the porch to anyone who wants to discover what’s really hidden among these cactuses. I invite the reader to come into the kitchen, where Rose might be making breakfast, finding herself absorbed, like she is every morning as she looks out of the window, in the desert turned by the rising sun into a palette of a thousand shades of watercolor. To meet Rose is to meet a woman who loves her five daughters above all else, a devoted mother capable of making the greatest of sacrifices to protect her girls. By all means enjoy her conversation, just don’t ask too much about her past, especially about the time before moving to the house among the cactuses. And best not mention the wooden cross driven into the earth out back, the one with Edelweiss’s name engraved on the crosspiece. When Elmer comes in through the kitchen door, freshly shaved, wearing the coveralls from the gas station where he works, a handshake will be greeting enough. He’s sparing with words and looks at any stranger invading his territory with suspicion, so tread carefully whenever he’s close by. Elmer’s arrival would be a good moment to leave the kitchen and take a look around the living room. There, hanging from the wall, is the guitar that Edelweiss played. And the turntable that plays the music to which the family dance together. Among the Flowers, by Bob Davis, is one of their favorite songs. It’s likely that a frenzy of footsteps will break out at any moment upstairs. It’s the twins, Daisy and Dahlia, who’ll come down in their little red pajamas, hungry, in search of cereal and kisses from Mommy. They’re identical, aren’t they? Sometimes it’s as if they were the same girl, especially when they both talk at the same time. A good topic of conversation with them, to keep them happy, would be to ask them about the pictures they make with colored beads. One thing they don’t like talking about is how they have to take turns hiding whenever their teacher Socorro comes. After meeting the twins, why not head up to the bedrooms? Iris will be in front of her dressing table mirror, brushing her hair. At the same time, she’s probably reading a Jane Austen book, or maybe the script to A Streetcar Named Desire, which she loves. It’s easy to talk to her about anything, she has a large vocabulary and…

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