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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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