The Seventh Flower: Office Romance the 18th Century Way w/ Ingela Bohm

February 14, 2017

 

Office Romance the 18th Century Way with Ingela Bohm

 

It seems fitting that my first publication with Dreamspinner, The Seventh Flower, grows from quintessentially Swedish soil. The novella forms part of the World of Love series, and I’m so excited to be contributing to such an ambitious theme. Writing from my perspective as a Swedish person has been really inspiring in a myriad of ways. I’ve never dug especially deep in my background and culture to create my stories – in fact I’ve almost avoided it, setting the scene in Wales, England, and France instead of Sweden. But this time the country was supposed to be an important part of the story, and working from that premise was an unexpected joy. The novella practically wrote itself.

However, the most inspiring thing about this project was a minor theme running through the romance between my main characters Christer and Henrik: a historical friendship, or bromance if you like, between Carl Linnaeus and Peter Artedi. To begin with, I never meant for them to make an appearance in The Seventh Flower, since I’d sort of planned to write a book specifically about them, but there you have it. Writers don’t always get to decide.

Of these two men, Linnaeus is undoubtedly the most famous. He’s the ‘father of modern taxonomy,’ the scientist who created a system for categorizing plants and their sexuality – the formal classification that explains why plants look the way they do and how they’re related to each other. At twenty-six years of age, he walked by foot from Uppsala to the north of Sweden to gather new and unclassified plants and incorporate them in his taxonomy. At that time (the 1740’s), Lapland was mostly a wilderness. Linnaeus followed the rivers, gathering specimens and studying how they all fit together. He camped out in the woods, finding shelter in bivouacs, surviving without modern clothing, and almost drowned one time when he was surprised by a spring flood. Through his work, he also systematized how plants were named, and there is even a flower named after him: the linnaea borealis, commonly known as the twinflower. Small and shy, this delicate pink beauty fascinated Linnaeus more than any other plant.

Perhaps you already know all this, but what about Artedi? Who the heck is he? Well, if Linnaeus created the taxonomy for plants, Artedi did the same thing for fish. Much less is known about him, but he was as important for his field of ichthyology as Linnaeus was for botany. He came from the north of Sweden and grew up on a farm. You can just imagine him as a small boy, going fishing in the local lake and becoming fascinated by the sleek, rainbow-glinting bodies gliding by beneath the water. How the light bounced off those silvery scales, how tiny details in their physiognomy set the species apart… and having no one to share his enthusiasm until he went to study at the university in Uppsala and met Linnaeus. The two seem to have become inseparable, and no wonder: taxonomy is kind of a nerdy passion, so when you meet someone who shares that interest it must seem like Fate. The two men even made a pact to publish each other’s work if one of them should die, and unfortunately this is exactly what happened. At a mere 30 years of age, Artedi fell into an Amsterdam canal and drowned.

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Curse him for drowning. It really messed with my plans. I wanted to create the ultimate office romance with these two as my leading men, because I have such a weakness for stories about people who share an interest and are creative together. I don’t know why. There’s just something inherently romantic about working towards the same goal, especially if it happens with something the people involved are used to working on alone. Just imagine it: finding the one person who can help you become more than you can be yourself in an area you care deeply about. Swoon-worthy, no?

I first tried on this concept in my historical romance Rival Poet, in which Shakespeare and Marlowe fall in love through the power of words. I also explored it in my Pax Cymrica series, where Michael and Jamie communicate through music and build an entire career on their shared passion. But in the case of Linnaeus and Artedi, there was this tiny irritating detail of major character death that made the whole thing difficult to pull off.

Solution? I had Christer and Henrik in The Seventh Flower share my fascination for them. Instead of putting my two historical heroes center stage, I made Christer their chronicler and Henrik a modern day botanist. In this way my main characters could mirror what I saw in the intense friendship between Linnaeus and Artedi: the finding of a soul mate in the unlikeliest of places, because of an obsession they thought no one shared.

It just gets me every time. Even now I’m writing a story about two actors falling for each other as they work on a successful TV series, repeating myself yet again. So am I the only one who gets off on this, I wonder? Or are there others out there who enjoy fantasizing about people who work together while also falling for each other? I’d love to know about your favorite work-related romance scenarios – maybe you have a thing for musicians, or actors, or scientists like Linnaeus and Artedi? Maybe you’re married to your office crush? Maybe you can even give me some tips for future books? Please hit me with your best shots!

 

Check out The Seventh Flower today!

The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm

Blurb:

Christer is too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

 

Ingela Bohm

Author Bio:

Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 12 000 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

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Books by Ingela Bohm

The Pax Cymrica series:

Just Playing
The Road Taken
Release
Cutting Edge

Standalone novels:

Rival Poet
Not Safe For Work
Last Communion
All You Can Eat

Short stories:
Seven Thousand Minutes
Strings Attached
The Subjunctive Mood
Beneath The Mask

 

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