Widdershins Online - Charles de Lint

Author’s Note

After my novel The Onion Girl, everybody wanted to know what was going to happen next with Jilly. At least that’s the message I’ve gotten from readers’ letters and at signings, not to mention from my own in-house, first editor: my wife Mary Ann. How could I leave her in that state? Were she and Geordie ever going to get together?

I was a little reluctant to answer those questions—partly because I’d rather books not carry on with the same lead characters as my earlier books, and partly because I don’t want to make readers read my books in any particular order.

Then there’s also the idea that readers should be able to decide for themselves what happens after the book has ended and the story in its pages is done. If the characters feel real enough, their stories can continue in the reader’s mind. There’s no need for me to put in my two cents worth.

But that doesn’t mean one should ignore old friends, and I realized that was exactly what I was doing. So after I wrote Spirits in the Wires to see what Christy and the people in his life were up to, and then satisfied my own desire for new characters by writing Medicine Road and a young-adult novel called The Blue Girl, I sat down to start the book you hold in your hands.

Except, there’s another reluctance I have with going back to a character I like as much I do Jilly: Let’s face it, you can’t have a novel without some drama and hardship in the lives of its principal characters, and I didn’t want to have to put her through the wringer yet again.

But in the end I had to agree with the rest of you. And once I’d begun Jilly’s story, how could I not see it through to the end to see how she fared?

I hope you enjoy reading her story as much as I did while writing it.

The section titles come from traditional tunes. They’re available on many recordings, but these were my sources: “The Dispute at the Crossroads” (Paddy Glackin, on In Full Spate), “Hand Me Down My Fiddle” (Morgainele Fay, on Up She Flew), “The Hard Road to Travel” (Kevin Crawford, on In Good Company), “Far from Home” (John Wood—his version is unrecorded), and “Farewell and Remember Me” (Boys of the Lough, on Farewell and Remember Me).

I’d like to thank Terri Windling for giving me the title for this book (and indirectly, Jane Yolen, who first came up with it), and Catherine Crowe, who first told me a version of the story of crow and the salmon, which I then proceeded to take apart and put together again in a whole different way. You can find the version she told me on her Web site at www.imagocorvi.com and also enjoy looking at her lovely enameled jewelry. Mary Ann and I share one of her crow pendant/pins, which hangs by my writing desk when Mary Ann isn’t wearing it.

I’d also like to thank:

my agent Russ Galen for going above and beyond the call of duty with this book, and my editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden for being so patient with my tardiness at turning in the manuscript;

my coterie of friends, family, and well-wishers (too numerous to name—you know who you are), without whom writing these books would truly be a far lonelier proposition;

my readers who are so possessive about these characters, and continue to be so loyal to me and my work over the years;

those readers who continue to send such wonderful music my way, as well as all the amazing musicians who, through the years, have kept my brain fertile and my spirits lifted with their music;

and last, but never least, Mary Ann, not simply for how she still finds time in the hectic bustle of her life to work on these writing projects of mine, but for the grace she brings into my life.

If any of you are on the Internet, come visit my home page at www.charlesdelint.com.


Remember how it was when we were young? It was like a dance, couples pairing up, together one month, the next everybody has a new partner, sometimes from within your social circle, other times a stranger brought in, but there was always this ebb and flow, like a tide, as though dating and love were a game of musical chairs, except you played it with your heart.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that we seem to divide into two camps: the ones who