LEWISTON – The seed of Mark LaFlamme’s newest novel took life in his backyard.

“It’s in the dark. I’m in a place where there’s not usually plants and this thing slithers around my ankle,” the seen-it-all Sun Journal crime reporter said.

He bolted and ran head-first into a lilac bush. Then, he fled indoors. Within minutes, he began writing “Vegetation.”

He wrote five chapters, about 5,000 words, that first night.

The next morning, LaFlamme and his wife, Corey, searched out the plant that grabbed him. It was springtime and several plants were waiting there to be planted in the garden.

“We went out to find the culprit and it was either a potato ivy or a bleeding heart,” LaFlamme said. In the daytime, they looked pretty tame.

“We’re friends now,” he said. But the experience seemed to trigger an almost-complete story.

“There was no thinking process,” LaFlamme said. “This was brought to me.”

It took only six week, less than the standard growing season for a 280-page novel. His first published novel, “The Pink Room,” was released in late 2005. It took eight weeks to write.

“With this one, every day I couldn’t wait to get home and abuse my protagonist a little more at the hands of the plant kingdom,” LaFlamme said.

The story is about a guy who kills his wife and is slowly avenged by the plant world.

“I was amazed at how many ways you could mistreat a person at the hands of plants,” he said. “It’s not just the garden plants. It’s the food you eat. The clothes you wear. Plants are everywhere, and I discovered that as I was writing.”

LaFlamme described the story as a “comic-book thriller.” Were it ever filmed, he imagines David Hyde Pierce, the actor who played TV’s Niles Crane on “Frasier,” as the recipient of so-called “green justice.”

When LaFlamme wrote “The Pink Room,” a horror novel with a dose of physics, he sought out science experts. This time, he learned about the plant kingdom from his wife, friends and plant experts.

“I think it was more difficult to learn than string theory,” he said. “I used to hang out at greenhouses and just look at plants and go, ‘This fella could put a hurt on a guy.'”

He can pick out lots of species these days. And he’s fine with becoming just a little softer, making the transformation from homicide to herbicide

“I don’t want to limit myself to writing about dead little girls and weird science,” he said.

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