Why did Lois Lowry write Gathering Blue?
In the introduction to Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue audio book and in an interview with Scholastic (see below), the author hints at why she wrote the book. When she wrote The Giver, the companion book to Gathering Blue, she didn't plan on a sequel. Yet she became so immersed in thinking about a future society that she wanted to continue to explore the topic. She imagined a future world, after an apocalyptic event, where the society lost its use of technology and returned to a more primitive lifestyle. She imagined Kira in that setting.
Lowry's development of Kira as a character allowed her to do what she enjoys doing in all her books, namely exploring "what makes people tick." She made Kira an artist because artists, Lowry believes, are in a unique position to influence their societies for good. She wanted to give her character a challenge and a fascinating journey. To equip her to come out of it all successfully, she made Kira an artist. Through Kira and her other characters, she was able to examine how people grow and change.