aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Tom Petty and Moi

I was listening to Fresh Air last night, and Terry Gross interviewed Tom Petty. Tom and I go way back, although he probably doesn't know it. I first started listening to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers when I was in college. On albums, so that gives you an idea how long ago that was.

Then in 2001, I wrote a book about a woman who is involved in a huge chain reaction car accident. The hitchhiker she has picked up is killed, and the body is misidentified as hers. She ends up remaking her life, with the help of a bag she finds that turns out to be filled with someone else's money. Everything goes fine until the hitchhiker's husband and the guy who really owns the money track her down. I called the book Learning to Fly, after a Tom Petty song. For that, I didn't need a permission. You can't copyright a title. I also wanted to quote two lines from Learning to Fly in the front matter: "I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing."

My advice is DON'T quote music lyrics in your book. Permissions are hard to get (it's hard to figure out who to go to and even when you do, they're not sure what to do because they don't handle them often), and they can be expensive. I paid $1,000 of my own money (at least at my level the publisher doesn't pay it) to have a character sing part of Layla in the shower in Circles of Confusion.

They also want to see where you use the lyrics (serial killer humming their song while he slashes sleeping babies' throats = no-no). And they also want two copies of the book. So it's possible Tom Petty has a copy of Learning to Fly. Or that the lawyer, Rosemarie G., does. Rosemarie gave me permission at the last minute, and for the much more reasonable sum of $125.

At one point, a producer really wanted to make Learning to Fly into a movie, so maybe Tom and I would have become even closer.

I like Tom Petty and will buy this new album.

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