Just outside the town, a girl and boy explored the forest. The rain pattered on the leaves high above them. Only a few drops reached them through the leaves—just enough to wet their hair.
“Where does rain come from?” the boy asked his sister, who was older.
She knew about clouds, but she said, “It comes from the moon.”
The boy didn’t believe her. He threw a pinecone straight up into the air and said, “Umbrellas on the moon!”
The concept that I began with was to write about one of the most ordinary things in the world, in simple language. The entire book—or a first draft, at least—flowed from the opening sentence, in one sitting.
That opening sentence (“The rain fell on the city, the town and the forest”) sounds startlingly similar to a line I recently read in a poem by Rimbaud, written over a century before my book: “The rain falls gently on the town.” Did I see the Rimbaud poem and unconsciously remember it? Or was this just a coincidence? No one will ever know—least of all me.