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Story Behind the Story #33: Poppy & Rye

Poppy & RyeThere are six books in the Poppy series. That was never the plan. Yes, the last chapter of Poppy begins: “Almost thirteen full moons to the night Ocax killed Ragweed, Poppy and her husband, Rye (how they met and married is another story) … “

Though I had written just that I had no particular plan to go forward and write the story. Indeed, Poppy & Rye did not appear until three years later.

The reason it appeared at all was that the publisher of Poppy was in all kinds of turmoil, and it was not possible to work with my regular editor, Richard Jackson.

As it happened, in those days, Orchard Books did not issue its own paperbacks. That was given over to Avon Books. They were just releasing the paper edition of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle when Avon had reorganized itself, in part by taking on a new editor, Elise Howard.

My first contact with her was when she sent me (not her work) the proposed cover of Charlotte. It was ghastly. Elise, however, was not ghastly. Far from it. We got along just fine. Moreover, I had no publisher, no editor. Discussions ensued, and since Avon was scheduled to produce Poppy in paperback, it seemed logical and reasonable to me that I work with Elise and write that story about how Poppy and Rye met. Perhaps Elise even suggested the book. I don’t recall.

Thus Poppy & Rye came to be, and Brian Floca again agreed to do the art.

By the time that book was done, I realized how much I enjoyed the characters, and that more would come. In terms of the series, Poppy worked out as number two. But it was Poppy & Rye, number three (Ragweed, number one, not yet written) that really established the series in my head. Elise Howard would go on to edit the next five books in the series—and many more of my books.

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