This week, I fielded the most unusual permission request of my career. My agent called to say a reader has inquired about permission to use a line from The Winter Lodge—on a headstone. Every once in awhile, my publisher gets a request to use text from a book for the usual reasons–to use in a class or excerpt. This request, of course, is a first.
The text? It’s the epitaph from the grave Jenny visits at a key moment in the story: “Step softly. A dream lies buried here.” Ironically, it’s not original so the permission wasn’t needed. I don’t remember where I saw the phrase. Probably wandering around a cemetery, reading headstones, which is not something I do often, but every once in awhile, I find myself in such a place. It’s one of those things that stays in your mind, brief and powerful, so you don’t even have to write it down in order to remember it.
The writer in me is like that, a magpie picking up bright, shiny things that catch her attention, and collecting them. A lot of the “kitchen wisdom” in Jenny’s recipes from THE WINTER LODGE came about in the same way. Wise women–my grandmothers, mother, aunts, friends–all contributed in their way.
Today I’ll think about this reader, who lost someone precious and found a few words to express her sorrow in such an unlikely place.
What a beautiful compliment to you.