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Story Behind the Story #36: Ragweed

RagweedHardly a week goes that doesn’t have one of my readers writing to me and asking, “Why did you let Ragweed die?”

The story of Ragweed, character and book, is a case history of how a character takes over a book, and indeed, a series (The Poppy books) not because the author (me), wished it so, but because the story insisted.

Consider how the Poppy series was written: Poppy first, Poppy and Rye second, and then Ragweed. But the series, as read today, puts Ragweed first.

That answers the question, why did Ragweed (the character) die?

You see, when I wrote Poppy I had no intention of writing a series. I wanted to write a stand-alone about the character Poppy. To create tension, suspense, I wanted to show that her nemesis, Mr. Ocax, was a real threat; that it would take great bravery for her to struggle against the owl. Owls, of course, eat mice. Therefore, Ragweed was the sacrificial character, so to speak, to make the point that Mr. Ocax was a truly dangerous adversary.

But by the time I wrote Poppy and Rye, it was clear to me I was going to write a series, and also readers would want to know more about Ragweed. Hey, I wanted to know, too. I mean, where did he get that earring?

Thus, Ragweed came to be written. It is full of skate boarding (one’s son’s passion) and rock-music (another’s son’s passion.) Indeed, the whole series is chock full of references to my own family experiences; love, marriage, fatherhood, childhood, step-fatherhood-and a lot more.

Curiously, the character Ragweed hovers over all the books. Even his earring (which he gets in the first book) is vital to the last book.

All that said, there is a big gap in the series, one that brings another constant question: “How did Ragweed meet Poppy?”

Be patient: I am trying to find out. And when I know, you’ll be able to read all about it.

2 thoughts on “Story Behind the Story #36: Ragweed”

  1. I too often find that my characters have a life of their own. Indeed, at one point while I was lying awake I’d ask one of them, “What are you doing?” and they’d tell me at length. And hearing that about your family experiences makes me that much more eager to read “Ragweed”.

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