word craft


Story Behind the Story #57: Poppy & Ereth

Poppy & ErethThere are six Pop­py books, and they are six in num­ber because I recalled read­ing the six Lit­tle House books (by Lau­ra Ingalls Wilder ) to my old­er kids. Thus six seemed—at the time—the right num­ber. That said, invent­ing a final sto­ry was not easy. I was deter­mined to bring a sense of clo­sure which would allow me to bring as many ele­ments of the books into this last vol­ume. It also need­ed to pro­vide a sat­is­fy­ing end­ing to Pop­py’s loy­al readers.

It need­ed to be true to the key characters—Poppy her­self and Ereth—and, not a small point, it had to be fun­ny. I like to think of Ereth’s response to what he assumes is Pop­py’s demise (and the funer­al he plans) as some of the fun­ni­est moments in the whole series. It made me grin to write how Ereth tries to teach him­self to smile.

It is mean­ing­ful to me that I did not set out to write a series. It was my affec­tion for the char­ac­ters that enabled me. A writer is indeed lucky when he/she loves the char­ac­ters that have been created.

It is worth look­ing at the art that Bri­an Flo­ca cre­at­ed which so effec­tive­ly depict­ed the char­ac­ters. That said, over the time it took to write the series, his art evolved, pro­gres­sive­ly get­ting bet­ter, there­by delin­eat­ing the char­ac­ters with greater and greater depth.

All that said, I was always aware that there was a key gap in the series nar­ra­tive. The oth­er day, while Skyp­ing with a class in Ohio, the teacher—who has long read the Pop­py books to her classes—asked this ques­tion: “How did Rag­weed meet Pop­py?” I’ve been asked that any num­ber of times.

To answer that ques­tion requires anoth­er book, which would be—in nar­ra­tive sequence—the sec­ond book in the series. That—as I com­pose this post—is what I am now writ­ing. Rag­weed and Pop­py. Bri­an will do the art. It will be pub­lished on the twen­ty-fifth anniver­sary of the first book. Twen­ty-five years! The num­ber amazes me. Here’s hop­ing it will please all. Includ­ing me.

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