Inspiration for The Lace Reader

For quite some time, I have been fascinated by the Hero’s Journey or the monomyth. Most stories that follow this pattern have a decidedly male orientation: a lone individual acts heroically and saves the day. I wondered if there might be an alternate form, a feminine Hero’s Journey. So I began to look at stories that featured female protagonists to see if they offered something different. What I found surprised me. Most of these women were either killed off or were ultimately rescued from their plight by male heros. Unsatisfied, I wondered if I could write a Hero’s Journey for women where the strong but wounded heroine must find a way to save herself.

With this in mind, I began to expose myself to archetypal images that resonated with female sensibilities. During this time, I had a dream that I saw something prophetic by looking through a piece of lace. This dream made such an impression on me, it seemed so vivid and real, that I felt that I must at least entertain the idea of using lace as the central image of the book. Soon after that, I found connections to other iconic feminine symbols: water, moon, tides, birth, etc..

As I began to write the novel, my characters’ stories unfolded in ways that surprised me. I began to realize that the heroine’s journey is often a collaborative one. When Towner’s story begins, she is very much alone. Her journey is about healing and learning to trust both herself and others.

14 Responses to “Inspiration for The Lace Reader”

  1. Much Madness is Divinest Sense » Brunonia Bryant’s The Lace Reader Says:

    […] future in patterns of Ipswich lace.  She returns to her hometown after the murder of two women.  Bryant says that her inspiration for the story was Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth, around which […]

  2. Crarothkin Says:


    Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the…

  3. Rose Says:

    Just yesterday someone was telling me about “The Lace Reader” and that I must read it. I have been scanning your website now for over 20 minutes and the more I find, the more I find myself compelled to read this book. I do not read much fiction but when I do I expect a story to captivate me within the first 3 chapters. As a writer myself (unpublished and unfinished as yet), one of the things I look for when an novel’s concept intrigues me is WHY the writer chose to unfold this particular story. It never ceases to amaze me that anything worth reading finds its foundation in a truly unique set of circumstances. I am a devotee of Joseph Campbell so right off the bat I know that this will speak to a like mind. I also have no doubt that I will enjoy. I am looking forward to the release date and wishing at the moment that I had book in hand now.

  4. cranton Says:

    I was given an advanced copy as I concierge on the Salem Boston Ferry. I can’t wait until people start coming to Salem to see all the places the Towner visited. I read a lot and especially like this type of book. Have to tell you, the ending was a real surprise. I didn’t see it coming, but it made perfect sense.

  5. J.J. Says:

    I am somewhat mystified – I posted a comment last night – it showed as #5 and now it appears to be gone. So, as Eva says there “are no coincidences” I gues there is some meaning to this.

    What I was questioning – I have checked out Google and cannot find any references to ‘lace reading’ as a psychic form. Is it something you, B. Barry, created? or is there a traadition of it? I am so intrigued.

    I would appreciate your comments – and by the way? Your book is so captivating. I am in its thrall.

    J.J. Loughran
    Denver, CO

    P.S. I read it from the bookstore where I work – a Barnes & Noble in Aurora, Colorado – a suburb of Denver. Brava

  6. Brunonia Says:


    As far as I know, lace reading was something that first appeared in one of my dreams. When I woke up, the image stayed with me and surprisingly, it predicted something that happened later in the day. Based on that, I felt compelled to write about it. I started with a short story and over time found myself adding more characters and plot twists. Eventually, I ended up with an entire novel.


  7. susie hearst Says:

    Dear Ms. Barry
    Iheard your interview on the radio (NPR)this morning. You were interested in contacting someone who weaves dog fur . There is a woman near St. Louis who does this. I had a beautiful warm scarf made from the fur of my two golden retrievers one of whom has since passed away. It is a wonderful keepsake. The woman’s name is Fran Pike –636-441-3895. I hope this is useful to you. I can’t wait to buy your book.
    Susan Hearst
    112 Heatherwood Dr.
    St. Louis, Mo. 63132

  8. Joyce King Says:

    Dear Ms Barry
    Thank you so much for a wonderful read. You did a magnificent job combining history, humor, suspense and magic. Your characters were vividly brought to life through your fabulous descriptions. You captured many aspects of Salem, both past and present it was a joy to follow the story on land and sea. You had my heart pounding with your exciting twists and turns, described with just enough fear and breath holding scenes to make one read faster and faster. Totally enjoyable. Quite an imagination. Thanks again. I look forward to your next book.

  9. LaDonna Shafer Says:

    It’s been quite a while since I have been unable to put down a story or found myself choked with emotion at the end. Thank you for making your dream available to us.

    I see you love libraries. I’m with the friends and if you ever find yourself passing through Salina, Kansas, stop in so we can tell you in person how much we enjoyed your magical story.

    Congratulations on your success!

  10. Penni Says:

    I am looking for questions from The Lace Reader to use in a Book Club discussion.
    I really want to read at the same time as my fellow club members. So I would like some questions already used by prior readers. Questions from Ms. Barry would be incredible to use. We like no more than 20 questions so the discussion does not last all night seeing that we all have families to go home to. Can anyone help me with this??

  11. Dear Brunonia Says:

    I first heard of your book from my blog friend By the way if you don’t know of it. You should take a peek once in awhile. Anyway she was promoting your book. And I was one of the person’s she sent a copy to. I wrote a small post on my blog to visit your site. I have no excuse. I lent this book to a friend, I think we will be adding this to book club this when it comes out in paperback. The last time I was so excited to read a book was The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield.
    Your book reminds me of hers with gothic setting, mystery, mystical etc. Now remember I did not read it yet. I was brought up every summer in Nantasket Beach. I have a uncle that I used to visit in Marble Head I think that is near you. I always love to read books with the setting in New England it is very nostalgic for me. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Not sure why. It may remind me of my grandparents home near the ocean. But I don’t know why I am sharing this. But I am listening to your audio of the ocean and it reminds me of Nantasket. You see also there was a old library on the cliffs and you could always hear the ocean in the background. It gives me such warmth. When I do start reading the book I am going to set my computer to the audio sounds of your website( The ocean). I have a funny feeling that I have been putting it off reading your book. Because I know I am going to enjoy it and not want it to end.
    When your book tour is over would you think about conference call?
    I know this is nervy, but is there any way that you would send copies of Lace Reader to our book club??? I have had other authors do this. I was just wondering if you would consider it. Most of your publcity is up north. Our group is in Myrtle Beach, SC. This would be a great way to publicize your book. Also at every book club meeting I post a review on my blog about our meeting and the book. This would be great publcity.
    If you are interested you can reply to
    Also visit my blog when you have time. I am sure you are still on your book tour.
    Unfortunately in SC we never get book signings from authors. I wish you could come down here. But we do not have many cultural events. Myrtle Beach is much smaller than NYC, or Boston

  12. Katherine Christensen Says:

    Dear Brunonia,
    It is so wonderful to see your hard work and brave efforts in pursuing an alternate path for publishing become so successful. You truly are an inspiration to those of us who have a passion for “spinning a yarn”, in our own time and our own way. I am looking forward to your up coming visit to Washington State. I hope the line is not too long to get an autographed copy of your novel from you in person.
    Best wishes,
    Katherine Christensen

  13. Julie Reitz Says:

    Dear Ms Barry,

    Did you choose the heroine’s name ‘Towner’ for a particular reason?

    Thank you!


  14. Jamie Wilson-Hull Says:

    Dear Ms. Barry:

    I just purchased a copy of your book and am totally enraptured…though a few years after it’s appearance on the shelves. I had been drawn to it for some odd reason as I had originally set out to find another book. I left with yours instead.

    I remember sitting with my grandmother (originally from England) and learning the fine art of lace making. Her hands, though crippled with arthritis, moved those bobbins around with ease and grace. I never had the patience to ever have completed an entire piece but, I now wish that I had have learned the art more fully. Your story with Towner has taken me back to not only that portion of my childhood but, also to my own mother’s somewhat eccentric ways in “May” and my maternal grandmother in “Eva”.

    I had never heard of Lace Reading before and recognize from your response that it isn’t considered a real form of divination however, anything used to focus can act as a vessel for insight.

    I still have a couple of pieces of handmade lace from my grandmother’s collection. Your book has made me want to take them out and frame them now.

    I thank you for being such a brilliant writer.

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