Avi shares the story behind his story:
The way the Crispin books came about is a little unusual for me. My standard approach is to have an idea for a story—very general—and then simply begin. That beginning is a first chapter, which a rewrite many times, finding my voice, my sense of story, a tone, a rhythm. Once all that appears to be set I got forward. That said, as I write the book it changes—you might say it unfolds—and it begins to have a mind (and legs) of its own. With the Crispin books, however, I had a notion of the complete sweep of the story, from the beginning, to an end.
A major problem for me, however, began with the first book: Crispin: the Cross of Lead. The problem? It won the Newbery award.
Why was that a problem? Because if the book was that good, how was I ever going to write a sequel that was its equal? Moreover, if I did write it, could I get the same voice, the same feeling for the characters, and so forth?
The truth is, I was quite reluctant to do so. There was, however, another problem. In the excitement that followed winning the award, I rashly signed a contract to do the sequel.
I had to do it.
I put it off for awhile, but then moved forward. To my delight it came with far greater ease than I thought possible. In fact, if an author’s opinion has an value, I think Crispin At the Edge of the World, is a better book than the first.
Do you agree?
As for the third book, that took time to sort out, but I enjoyed writing it. In many ways it was the biggest challenge of all, Crispin on his own. But I’ve grown to like him, and enjoy—so to speak—being with him.
However, there is a whole part of the book that is missing: the ending.
My editor and I agreed to cut it so the book would not be too long.
Now I have to write that ending.
All in all, it’s been a long process—but—that last book—when I write it—will fit the notion I had original thought of so long ago. Quite a saga, as they might say in Iceland.
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