A New Preface

When I heard the news about Maya Angelou’s passing today, I immediately went searching for proof. How could it be? She seemed to be glowing in this interview with Oprah that I watched the other day. I remember thinking how young and wise she seemed.

I spent part of Mother’s Day reading through Maya Angelou’s new memoir Mom & Me & Mom. I was intrigued by her relationship with her mother, and it reminded me of something. Not my own relationship with my own mother, but someone else’s experience. I couldn’t pinpoint which mother-daughter duo I was thinking of at the time.

In the BBC article that confirmed Maya Angelou’s death for me, I spotted a tribute tweet from JK Rowling. A quote:

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou

I knew instantly that if I had seen this quote before publishing my novel, I would have used it for a preface. Not only because Maya Angelou’s mother (like Caroline’s) thought she was special, but didn’t know how to show it. But because this truth represents exactly what I was trying to write about in The Proper Order of Things. What is normal anyway?

My novel currently begins with a dedication: “To Mama Bird. You were always there.” Unlike Caroline and Maya’s mother, my own mom was there. I was one of the lucky ones. Tonight I’ll be opening up that old manuscript and adding a preface where I always knew one belonged. I just hadn’t read the right words yet. Thank you, Ms. Angelou.

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