Famous writers

The bestselling novel that almost didn’t get written

The Secret Life of Bees book

I love this story:

I’ve just finished reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd whose first novel was the mega bestseller The Secret Life of Bees.

She almost didn’t write her debut novel. The fact that the book was written is down to one tiny bee (a real life one).

Sue Monk Kidd was a registered nurse and non-fiction writer who dreamed of writing fiction. One day, whilst visiting a convent on a Greek Island, she bowed to an icon of the Virgin Mary and asked for the courage to become a novelist.

She returned home and wrote a first chapter – about a girl whose bedroom wall is full of bees.

She took this chapter to a writer’s conference where she was told that her writing was “interesting, but with small potential.”

So she dismissed the notion of writing a novel… though the idea continued to hum and buzz in the back of her mind.

Six years later and now in her 40s, she was in the Mediterranean again with her daughter Ann. They visited Ephesus, where Mary once lived. With the dream of becoming a novelist still tugging at her heart, Sue went into a little prayer chapel and asked for guidance.

Specifically, she asked for a clear sign.

As soon as she left the chapel, a bee landed on her left shoulder. Her daughter went to wave the bee away but Sue stopped her. The bee hitched a ride on Sue’s shoulder as they walked down the hill towards the tour bus. It did not move.

“What’s with this bee?” asked Ann. “It’s like it has adopted you.”

“It’s telling me I’m about to go home and finish up that novel I started six years ago,” said Sue.

The Secret Life of Bees was published in 2002. It became a literary phenomenon. It sold over 8 million copies worldwide. It was translated into 36 languages. And it spent 2 ½ years on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ah, I love a happy ending :-)

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