The Violets That Inspired THE VIOLETS OF MARCH

Hello lovelies! Thanks for all the lovely entries in my giveaway. I loved all of your comments so much that I’ve decided to give away TWO copies. And I’ll be picking winners at random this weekend!

For now, I wanted to share the story of the violets that inspired the title of my novel. Just like the characters in the story, violets took me by surprise when they showed up in my garden last spring. There they are, above, photographed tonight! I didn’t plant them, they just appeared. The full story:

Shortly after I sold my novel to Penguin, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on the pre-publication editing process. My editor, the lovely and always insightful Denise Roy at Penguin, suggested that we add few new threads to the book. So, I spent several months working on these revisions, often thinking about creative ideas and solving plot problems on my daily 3-mile jogs around my neighborhood in Seattle. One day, while huffing and puffing through my usual route, I glanced down by the roadside and noticed a brilliant carpet of purple flowers growing at the edge of someone’s garden. I didn’t think much of them until the following day when I was out in my backyard, and a gardener I hired to do some weeding (I have three young boys and zero time for weeding!) pointed out a peculiar plant sprouting up out of the ground.

I recognized the soft purple petals, instantly. “These are wood violets,” he said. “They’re wild. They pop up where you least expect them to.” He shrugged. “They are kind of pretty. Do you want me to leave them?” I smiled, thinking immediately of my novel and imagining how something as delicate and small as a violet pushing up out of the ground, unannounced and uninvited, could have great significance. “Yes,” I said. “Keep them!”

As I continued to work on the novel, I couldn’t get the wood violets out of my head, and I realized that my story needed these fragile, yet bold little petals. They soon became a key symbol of redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation in the story, and they mirrored the characteristics of Esther, a key character in the book. As readers will see, she is both bold, beautiful and spirited, and yet fragile, too.

Adding this new thread to the story, for me, made the novel feel complete. It was almost as if I could hear the manuscript breathe a satisfied and content sigh when I had finished. Now, every time I look at the cover of the book and see the little violet pictured there, I think of my discovery of wood violets, and it reminds me of how important it is to be curious about every little detail around you, even the the seemingly insignificant. You never know what you might stumble upon—on a jog, in the backyard, or hidden in a patch of weeds.

  • May 19, 2011

    Sarah- this is an incredible story! Goodness, and all this time I thought the violets had inspired you from the beginning. This is what I love about art (and writing is an art form)- it’s always developing. Artists see that and find inspiration everywhere. Just like you do. Gah! You gave me chills yet again!

  • May 20, 2011

    That’s so awesome – thanks for sharing this! I was wondering if you just totally made that up or if you had inspiration for the flowers – how cool!

  • May 21, 2011

    How wonderful that these magical flowers have chosen your garden! It’s way too amazing to be coincidental! I love the moments in the book where they find the flowers and marvel at all they represent. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • May 22, 2011

    …this makes me smile…you just never know…

  • May 26, 2011

    I love this story, and it often is the little things that just appear that can make a difference. Thank you so much for sharing. I love how this small flower changed your book.

  • June 11, 2011
  • July 20, 2011
    Melissa Kreuser

    This is great…thanks so much for writing this. I just found your website/fb page yesterday because of your most recent contest and the name of your novel intrigued me quite a bit. I have a degree in horticulture and find meaning in plants and seemingly “insignificant” parts of nature constantly. Can’t wait to read your book!


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