Whenever I have a new book out I get a welcome flurry of correspondence from readers and quite often they say something along the lines of, ‘I loved that bit where….’ Then, more often than not, I have to go rummaging through the book looking for the bit they loved but I have quite forgotten. Shocking, I know, but my interest in a story last only as long as I’m writing it. Immediately it’s finished I have to turn my attention to the next project. I leave behind me a trail of abandoned literary offspring. Thank goodness somebody loves them.
Today a reader wrote to me about a line in The Grand Duchess of Nowhere that had particularly touched her. My first thought was that she was mistaken. It was possible I’d written it – it sort of had my thumb print on it – but I had no recollection of doing so.
It took ten minutes of speed-reading but I found it. My reader was spot on and an ember of memory began to glow. The scene was the deathbed of Ducky’s father and, as I recall, it was a late addition to the manuscript, put in during the second edit when I was nearing the ‘Oh God let it be over’ stage (of the rewriting, not the dying). A casual addendum that someone found moving. Well, well.
So three cheers for my readers, who are always generous with their time and praise. And nul points for a forgetful old scribbler.