But cut Sammy and friends loose in the Santa Martina Cemetery on Halloween night, and this is what happens to a popular song…(Caution, you are about to read an unauthorized excerpt!)
“You know, the guy in costume? The one who lost his candy bag?” I look at Billy. “Where is it, anyway?”
Billy pats his pillowcase. “If I see him, I’ll give it back.”
Casey snorts. “Sure you will.”
“Dude, I’m serious. I’m no sugar-lootin’ ghoul. I’m a good ghoul!”
Casey chuckles, and then quietly he starts singing,
“He’s a good ghoul, loves his mama,
“Loves Jesus and America, too.
“He’s a good ghoul, crazy for Elvis,
“Loves horses and zarapes, too….”
And Billy chimes in louder with,
“’Cause I’m free! Free fallin’!
“Yeah, I’m free! Free fallin’!”
“Are you guys crazy?” Marissa says. “Do you want that guy with the shovel to hear you?”
“He won’t hear us,” Billy says. “He’s long gone.”
“What song was that?” I ask, because it was pretty obvious they weren’t just making it up.
Holly turns to me. “‘Free Fallin’, Tom Petty.”
Casey nods. “Also covered by John Mayer.”
Marissa and I give each other a Never-heard-of-it shrug, but very quietly Holly says, “My mom used to sing it.”
So now Marissa and I look at each other like, Oh, maaaaan, because to make a long, sad story short, Holly’s real mom is dead and Holly has no idea if she’s buried, or cremated, or what happened to her because Holly and her mom were homeless and her mom was a junkie and when Holly was, like, ten, she found her mother dead from an overdose. And since Holly was just a kid with no relatives and no money, she wound up in foster care.
Anyway, the point is, I know it really bothers Holly that she doesn’t know what happened to her mom’s body, and all of a sudden I’m feeling awful for Holly. I mean, maybe nobody visits these graves we’re walking by anymore, but at least at one point someone cared enough to bury them and put up a grave marker, right?
Thankfully Holly seems to be thinking nice thoughts about her mother because she gives a little smile and says, “But when my mom sang it, there were no ‘ghouls’ or ‘zarapes’ in the lyrics. It was ‘girls’ and ‘boyfriends’.”
Now I’m hoping Billy won’t say anything that’s meant to be funny but winds up being hurtful because I don’t know how much he knows about Holly and her mom and their awful past. But before he can say anything at all, Marissa changes the subject, “How are we going to get out of here, anyway?”
Casey points across the new section. “I’m thinking we’ll make a break for it across there and climb the fence.”
Marissa looks at him, horrified. “You’re serious?”
“Sure, why not? ”
Now, I knew it wasn’t the “make a break for it” part that was the problem. And I knew climbing the wall section of the fence wasn’t the problem, either. It was the wrought iron posts on top of the wall section that were the problem.
Specifically the pointy spears at the tippy top of each post.
See, Marissa has a history of getting stuck on fences that don’t have spears, so I didn’t even want to picture what might happen on one that did.
“Trust me,” I tell Casey. “You do not want Marissa to climb the fence.”
I ran the excerpt a little long because some of you have been asking for one...so there you go!
Anyway, I thought the change in lyrics was fun but apparently holders of the copyright disagreed.
They’re not required to give a reason. And it’s their right to say, Nah, we don’t want you putting ghouls in for girls or zarapes for boyfriends.
The copyright rules do allow for the use of two lines of a song without permission. The interesting question with a song is, what constitutes two lines?
The other interesting thing is that the advanced reader copies were printed and sent out months ago, full of mistakes (as usual) and copyright infringements (uh-oh). I know there’s a value to the uncorrected proofs—that some people collect them because they’re fairly rare, and scholars like to compare ARCs to the final book. And usually I’m of the mind that there’s just not enough shelf space in my life to care about ARCs after the final book is out. (Although I do have a black & white ARC of Hotel Thief, which I admit is pretty cool.) But with the change in cover art (as I posted about before), the error (it was a mistake in the mystery, which I realized after the ARCs had gone to press) and the copyright problem with “Free Fallin’” the Night of Skulls ARC would probably be interesting to anyone who follows such things.
So yes, I changed the above excerpt. I had to! And I was under pressure to do so quickly because (as these things usually go) the book is supposed to go to press any day now. So when the actual book comes out check back here and compare the passages, if you care.
Oh, and if you do you’ll notice there are other changes in the passage because the excerpt above is from my file before it went through editing and copyediting, and before I added that The Almost also covered the song. So this is like the original finished manuscript text…which (even though it had been rewritten about 20 times at that point) was obviously not nearly finished!
I hope some of you found this at least somewhat interesting (and / or enjoyed the sneak peek at the upcoming book). Permissions is one of those little areas in publishing that you don’t spend much time thinking until you receive a Permission Denied, but it can mess up your writing schedule in a big way!
Thanks for checking in! See you next week.