The Toddlians have always believed in the omnipotence of their god, twelve-year-old Todd Butroche. After all, Todd is their creator and they would not exist if it were not for him and his benevolent grossness. But when the Toddlians are confronted with a vile “red thing” (a moldy apple) and its mysterious and horrifying inhabitant (a worm!), they begin to believe Todd has forgotten all about them. There’s only one solution to the Toddlians’ problems: to find a new god! And so they decide to build a raft à la Noah’s ark in order to search for a more thoughtful deity. But who can the Toddlians turn to in their time of despair? And does Todd really not remember the miniature race generated by the dirt on his smelly sock? It will take more than divine intervention to save the Toddlians and mend their relationship with their neglectful creator.
Rosanne: Congratulations on your second book! That’s a real accomplishment. How much of getting published is determined by luck and how much of it do you think is due to hard work and talent?
Louise: I don’t really believe that things just “happen,” but I do believe that circumstances can definitely line up in your favor: you meet an agent or editor at a conference who happens to mention liking your favorite Jane Austen book and you strike up a conversation that ends in an invitation to query your manuscript… But even then, the manuscript has to be written, you had to make the effort to go to the conference in the first place, both of which usually equal quite a bit of effort on your part.Rosanne: So true.I’ve found unexpected opportunity and had a few fortunate meetings but if the hard work on the pages wasn’t in place ahead of those “lucky” circumstances, they would have come to nothing. In Todd We Trust is a sequel. Did you find it difficult to return to familiar characters, or was it easy to find their voices again?
Louise: It didn’t take long to get back into their heads, but it was challenging to keep the voices separated since there are four point of view characters (Todd, three Toddlians, and Todd’s baby sister, Daisy.) In the first book, the Toddlians only had a few chapters, so I had to really delve deeper into their characters for the sequel and make sure their voices were unique. Also, Todd has matured a lot since the beginning of book one, so his way of looking at things had to be more responsible, yet still leave him room to grow. Discovering his first crush helped do that.Rosanne: I’ve only ever attempted two points of view in a story so I’m really very impressed. Making each character distinct and strong enough to carry the story is a terrific challenge.
Speaking of first crushes and boy-girl friendships, did you draw on your experiences to develop this aspect of the story?
Louise: Growing up, I was often the only girl on my block, and I have a younger brother, so I hung out with boys a lot. Several of my best friends at school were boys as well; I seemed to relate better to them than girls my own age. In the book, Todd has a massive crush on the new girl, Charity, but (spoiler alert!) eventually realizes that he’d rather just be friends. To him it’s much more fun and far less complicated. I really hope readers will see that boy-girl friendships can be awesome without turning gooey.Rosanne: In my first teaching job I had a class with twice as many boys as girls and it was interesting to see how that gender imbalance changed the usual classroom dynamic. I found your depiction of a boy’s point of view particularly strong. So the luck part would be growing up in a neighborhood full of boys, and the skill part would be paying attention to all those boys so that you can now write them well.
You mentioned In Todd We Trust has more chapters from the tiny Toddlians’ point of view than the first book. Did you find it hard to write from the perspective of wee folk?
Louise: It definitely requires a lot of imagination to describe objects like apples, flies, and carpet (fiber forests) from an ant-sized character’s vantage point, but I’ve always loved the notion of tiny people or creatures existing among us, Borrower-style. When I was a kid, I was forever on the lookout for fairies and leprechauns, and was a huge fan of Sea-Monkeys, naming each and every one! So I was thrilled when my editor asked me to add more Toddlian chapters to the sequel.Rosanne: I loved The Borrowers! The Wee Free Men is a family favorite. I’d love to pull together a wee folk display at the bookstore.