Why did Lois Lowry write Gathering Blue?

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Lois Lowry is a YA/children's author who is known for her work The Giver, which she originally did not intend to become a series. Gathering Blueand Messenger are in between the The Giver and her latest novel, Son, the fourth book in the series. The Giver is...

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Lois Lowry is a YA/children's author who is known for her work The Giver, which she originally did not intend to become a series. Gathering Blue and Messenger are in between the The Giver and her latest novel, Son, the fourth book in the series. The Giver is written from the point of view of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who lives in a futuristic utopian society that has eliminated fear, hatred, war, and prejudice. Lois Lowry wrote Gathering Blue, the second book following The Giver, several years later. In an interview conducted by The Atlantic, Lowry stated the following after she published her latest book, Son.

When I finished The Giver I said stupidly, publicly, that I wouldn't have any sequels. That was published in '93. In 2000 the second [Gathering Blue] was published. I had not intended it as even related to The Giver; I was creating another interesting world, to me, where things were different, and as I went along I realized I could answer some questions—in seven years, I had gotten so many questions about the ending. I put in, at the end of Gathering Blue, the reference to the boy Jonas.

Initially, Lowry had no intention to have any sequels written after her first book, The Giver.

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Lois Lowry's YA dystopian novel, The Giver, introduces readers to a future world where life is controlled by Community leaders and every member of the Community does what s/he is told. Lowry published the novel in 1993 and it went on to win a Newbery Medal the next year.

Following the success of The Giver, Lowry wrote three more novels which loosely take place in the same era, Gathering Blue (released in 2000), Messenger (released in 2004), and Son (released in 2012). Together, the books are referred to as The Giver Quartet.

In an interview with Indie Bound, conducted shortly after Gathering Blue's release, Lowry explained both The Giver and Gathering Blue are about children who are no longer free to become themselves once a society presses upon them the importance of coloring within the lines. She speaks specifically about the comparison of herself, as a children's book author, facing censorship and challenges during her career.

An interview conducted by The Atlantic after the release of Son confirmed that Lowry never intended to write any sequels to The Giver. She explains,

When I finished The Giver I said stupidly, publicly, that I wouldn't have any sequels. That was published in '93. In 2000 the second [Gathering Blue] was published. I had not intended it as even related to The Giver; I was creating another interesting world, to me, where things were different, and as I went along I realized I could answer some questions—in seven years, I had gotten so many questions about the ending. I put in, at the end of Gathering Blue, the reference to the boy Jonas. He was not mentioned by name, but kids who had been wondering recognized him.

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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.  

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