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Behind the Scenes of Ivy's Ever After

Here you'll find the inspiration behind some of the people and place names in Ivy's world. Warning: there may be minor spoilers if you haven't read the book yet, but nothing big.

The king and Frederick When I was in the fourth grade, I read an article about Roman emperor Caligula in a scholastic magazine at school.  Caligula wasn't the most stable guy in the world.  He was famous for doing a lot of strange things during his reign, including throwing dinner parties for his horse Incitatus and even appointing Incitatus to the Roman Senate.  The idea of a horse getting such outlandish treatment was hilarious to me!  I never forgot about Caligula and Incitatus—even as an adult I remembered reading the article about them all those years ago.  When I started writing Ivy's Ever After, I knew Ivy's father would be a bit muddle-brained.  It seemed only natural to me that he, too, should have a beloved horse upon which to shower his rather eccentric devotion and attention.

Drusilla Most people think of Drusilla as a name for a not-so-nice character, like the evil vampiress from the T.V. show Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the ugly stepsister from the Disney version of Cinderella (her name is actually Drizella, by the way, but close enough).  So why would I want to use this name for someone as sweet-natured (if a little flighty) as Ivy's fairy godmother?  I specifically chose the name Drusilla so I could use the nickname Drusy.  If you don't know what a drusy (also spelled druzy or druse) is, it's basically a cluster or collection of very small crystals.  (Look up "drusy" on the Internet, and you should see some very beautiful examples.)  Since Ivy's fairy godmother has such a beautiful, sparkly, crystalline appearance, Drusilla/Drusy seemed like the perfect name for her!

Ardendale My favorite Shakespearean comedy is As You Like It, in which the characters flee court life and find refuge in the beautiful, pastoral Forest of Arden.  To a certain extent, Ivy's valley kingdom reminded me of the Forest of Arden.  It's tranquil and rustic, very different from the larger, fancier northern kingdoms of Ivy's world.  I imagine it to be quite the idyllic place—if you watch out for the dragons and trolls in the bordering areas!  I named Ivy's kingdom Ardendale in honor of the Forest of Arden ("dale" means "valley").  And, no, I didn't expect anyone to pick up on the reference, which I don't think is particularly obvious.  It was done solely for my own entertainment and amusement!

Marmor Tildy tells Ivy that the white stone used to build the tower came from a quarry in the kingdom of Marmor.  I got this name by shortening the world marmoreal, which is used to describe something that resembles marble.   Merriam-Webster tells me it comes from the Latin marmoreus, from marmor or marble.  My Latin abilities are nonexistent, so I'll have to take their word for it.

Anura Clarinda mentions this as the name of the kingdom where the princesses have to kiss frogs to get a husband.  The scientific classification of frogs is kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Amphibia, and order Anura.  I thought about using Amphibia as the name of the kingdom, but this seemed a little too obvious.  Besides, Anura sounds like such a nice name for a magical, make-believe kingdom, doesn't it?  (Okay, maybe not if you're a zoologist, but it works for the rest of us, right?)

Behind the Scenes of Ivy and the Meanstalk

Here are some tidbits about Ivy's second adventure.

Jack and the Beanstalk I used Jack and the Beanstalk for inspiration not because it's a fairy tale I like, but because it's one of my least favorite fairy tales. I never cared for Jack. He's lazy and doesn't help his mother around their farm. When, out of desperation, she sends him to sell their cow, he instead trades it for magic beans. He sneaks and steals. He kills the giant. (Okay, the giant doesn't exactly seem like a nice guy either, but Jack does invade the giant's home and steal his property. He's just asking for trouble.) For someone who is supposed to be a hero, it seems to me that Jack does a lot of terrible things and falls way short of the mark. Meanstalk is my reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk, one with a decidedly disapproving view of the troublesome Jack—a view that Ivy quickly comes to share.

Acronyms A friend of mine was reading a very early draft of Ivy and the Meanstalk when she noticed that the title of a formal document that Ivy was studying formed a funny acronym.  She asked me if I'd done that on purpose.  I hadn't—but I thought it was a great idea and from that point forward I made sure that every agreement or treaty mentioned in the book had an odd or quirky acronym.  My favorite is the Prickly-Aldwin North Interkingdom Conventions (PANIC), but there are others—so keep your eyes peeled as you're reading!