Well, Thomas, I was living in Oregon, in the town of Corvallis. Wandering into a bookstore, something I like to do, I went to the bargain section, something I like to do even more.There I found a book—shame on me for not remembering title or author—which was written by a naturalist. It seems that in a forest he found a lost baby owl in poor health. He took the owl home, nursed it back to health, and taught it to live on its own in the wilderness. The owl did well in the forest, but every now and again he (I think it was a he) came back to say hello to the man who saved him. I loved that book. The book also taught me a great deal about owls. The more I read, the more convinced I was that I should write a book about owls. Enter Mr. Ocax! But—as I wrote about the owl, I needed to detail what owls ate. They ate—among other things—mice. Enter Poppy! The book therefore begins with Mr. Ocax, but as always with me, the more I wrote, the more the story changed. I had become interested in the mouse—Poppy—the creature the owl wished to eat. It became Poppy’s story. In short, I invented as I went along. As I have said before, quoting the poet Robert Frost, “If there are no surprises for the writer, there are no surprises for the reader.”
As for the rest of the Poppy books, that’s another story.