I would never have imagined the way I came to write my first novel. Many years ago, I used to hear a silly little ditty in my head, the kind that Germans call an “ear worm.” My ditty went, “Grasshopper, grasshopper, take me to Italy!” I was fond of it without any reason, perhaps because in eternally gray Paris, everyone always longs to go south. When I moved to Berkeley, the ditty moved right along with me. I remember driving over the San Francisco Bay Bridge one day and singing it out loud to my companion Kim. It suddenly struck us that the “ear worm” had to have a meaning if it was still playing in my head after all that time. What if I truly listened to it? Would it reveal its secret?

Apparently I had hit upon the magical formula: the very moment I took the words to heart and asked them to speak to me, a story came. Over the course of the next year, my novel The Grasshopper’s Secret took shape. The grasshopper playing in my ear had literally taken me on a ride.

Ditties, words, sentences knock around in your head and roll over your tongue all day long. You can become a keen listener and word catcher. Jot them down, follow the lead of your intuition, your Muse, and before you know it you’ve got a page, a chapter, a whole story, a book…

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