The Lake of Dreams: On Encyclopedias

The Christmas morning when I was eight years old, my younger brother and I got up before dawn, while our exhausted parents were still asleep, and crept out into the living room.  Presents spilled from beneath the tree.  We were most captivated by the series of huge boxes addressed to us all, and we’d torn away the paper from the corner of one box before my mother heard us and came to shoo us back to bed. 

The Lake of Dreams: On Women, Contraception and the Importance of History

 In October of 1916, just under a hundred years ago, Margaret Sanger opened a clinic in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY.  Sanger, who as a nurse in the poorest areas of the city had witnessed enormous suffering, was determined to help women take control of their own bodies and their own lives.  Sanger’s purpose with this clinic?  To pass out information about contraception and human reproduction.  Information, that was all, the sort of basic facts that might today be related in a high school health education class.  Yet in 1916, the distribution of this information was illegal under the Comstock laws.  Even doctors could not give such information to their patients.  Women lined up for blocks to get these pamphlets, but Sanger was arrested, along with her sister Ethyl Byrne and their associate Fania Mindell.  The clinic was closed, and and all three women were sent to jail.

The Lake of Dreams: Debuts at # 4 in the UK!

The Lake of Dreams was published in paperback in the UK last week, and I got word this morning that it has debuted at # 4 on the best seller list!  Thrilling news, and a wonderful way to start the week!

The Lake of Dreams: On Jeopardy!

This morning my daughter called to let me know that people at school were talking about the questions on Jeopardy! last night.  I often watch the show, but missed this one, so I didn’t know that one of my books had appeared in the category Possessive Book Titles, under the $2,000 clue.  It said, ”Kim Edwards:  The ________ _________’s Daughter.”  I have to say, it’s totally thrilling to find myself mentioned on Jeopardy!  You can check it out at the link below.

http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=3808

 

 

The Lake of Dreams: On Writing (and Dreaming)

John Gardner, whose novels and books on writing have been important to me as a writer and a teacher, talks about the need for the writer to enter the ‘fictive dream.’  I think what he means by this is that as writers we must create a world so convincing and compelling that we are able–and our readers will in turn be able–to remove ourselves the from the sensory world we inhabit to dwell for a time in the imagined world, instead. 

The Lake of Dreams: The Chalice Well, Borders, and the Vesica Pisces

Cover of Chalice Well Glastonbury, England
This is a photo of the cover of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury England.  Now the ruins of GlastonburyAbbey stand there, but it is also thought to have been a sacred site during pre-Christian times.  Some people claim that it’s a “thin place,” where the distance between the material and the spiritual worlds becomes narrow.  The pattern of circles is an ancient one, too, often called the Vesica Pisces (literally: fish bladder!) and I’m intrigued by the meanings associated with this archetypal image of overlapping worlds.
 
I had the Vesica Pisces in mind as I was writing The Lake of Dreams, and it was the inspiration for the pattern that Lucy finds woven into a baby blanket and illuminated as a border in a series of stained glass windows.  These objects contain clues to the past, but as Lucy discovers, the past is not contained in a separate sphere, but overlaps with the present, and sometimes overshadows it.  Here’s Lucy’s description of the border in one of the windows she finds:
 
“The interwoven spheres and vines ran along the bottom of the window.  I’d done some research, and I’d found this motif everywhere.  These overlapping circles were ancient, tracing ack to Pythagorean geometry–geometry, a measure of the world.  In more mystical terms, the shape had always evokded the place where worlds overlap:  dreaming with waking, death with life, the visible with the unseen.” 
 
The Lake of Dreams, p. 362
 
When The Lake of Dreams was finished, the wonderful book designers at Viking/Penguin created a motif that echoes this ancient image, and that incorporates imagery from the novel, too.  It’s beautifully done, and the border opens every chapter, giving readers a bit of the experience Lucy has as she uncovers this pattern and its meaning for her life.
 

The Lake of Dreams: St. Louis County Library and The Literary Guild

Last week was the launch of The Lake of Dreams in paperback, and I traveled to libraries in Louisville and St. Louis to speak.  These were wonderful events, with large audiences of passionate readers.  At the St. Louis County Library, I noticed a group of young people sitting together in the audience.  They were so engaged, and asked wonderful questions after my talk.  Later, I learned that they were high school students, all part of a club called The Literary Guild.  They had read one of my novels, and they had come to my reading with their teacher.  It was very moving to me, and I think to many in the audience, to see so many young people feel so passionately about books and about reading, and I have thought about those students–and their dedicated and inspiring teacher–a great deal in the days since.  It’s impossible not to feel hopeful and excited about the future of books after seeing such a response from a new generation of readers.  Thanks to The Literary Guild for sharing that energy–and wishing you joy in reading always!

The Lake of Dreams: The Penguin Edition

Today is the official launch of The Lake of Dreams in paperback. The Penguin cover is beautiful. I love the color, and I love the way the key beneath the water evokes a sense of mystery. Every time I glance at the cover, from across the room or across a bookstore, I find it compelling and mysterious all over again.

The Lake of Dreams: In Malaysia

The summer after I finished graduate school, I got married, and then my husband and I moved across the world to teach in Kuantan, Malaysia, a small city on the rural east coast.  I remember traveling across the peninsula by car just after we arrived, marveling at the new landscape.  Everything was different from anything I’d experienced before, from the foliage to the language and culture, to the climate and the food.  I wondered, as we drove, how I would ever write in this new place, so far away from the familiar.

The Lake of Dreams: On the Finger Lakes

Last week I had the pleasure of reading at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, NY, so I was back in the heart of the Finger Lakes.  I graduated from Cayuga before I went on to study at Colgate University, and I was editor of the yearbook in my second year.  It was so interesting to go through and see all the changes that have happened over the years.  People were complaining about the spike in gas prices back then, too-they had just spiked to 61 cents a gallon!