When I landed on Nantucket in the fall of 1976, I had a head full of the [American] Revolution, enough cash for a cramped bedroom in an unfashionable boardinghouse, but no nanny. So my two daughters, Annika (self-nicknamed “Kiki,”) age 7 and Molly, a precocious 4, were back in San Francisco with their mother, from whom I was quietly getting divorced.
I expected to be away for a couple months, as long as the cash held out. Then it would be back to the Bay Area, the girls, and my fledgling but in-sight-of-the-cusp-of thriving freelance career, writing for various papers, particularly its main weekly, the Bay Guardian.
Plus, they weren’t interested in my Quaker novel, and there wasn’t much else for me to talk about with them: by day I squinted at old documents, and at night pecked at my compact portable typewriter.
Completely boring for just about everyone else of any age. (Fortunately, I didn’t drink.)
(Though the Post Office had recently stuck us with an onerous price increase to an outrageous 13 cents for first class stamps!) But at six or so pages per ounce, I could handle that.
Yeah, that could work.
A few days before I squeezed them goodbye and climbed on the Greyhound bus for a marathon, mind- and butt-numbing ride from San Francisco to Boston, I began making notes for the story.
For research, I plundered my memory: Oz, Narnia, Middle Earth, Brer Rabbit, Bambi, Dumbo, many old pre-TV cartoons, and more. (But not Harry Potter; he was still two-plus decades away)
But soon I realized I’d need a few special plot twists to keep it going, especially multiple episodes a week for a few months.
Again: why quilts?