The books in the Pedigree Series are pretty widely varied. Everyone talks the same and has the same manners and the same faded Trimingham’s sweaters are frequently discussed, but the content and plots run the gamut somewhat. The first book is very political, some titles are guy-meets-girl centered, others have New England Gothic vibes. I mean, for a long-haul series, I have to keep it interesting, not just for my readers, but for me. Honestly, I wrote these for me. Now somehow I’m blogging about them, but that’s another story.
Into the Sunset, Book 3, is unique among the books in a few ways. First, the narrative takes place in 2004 instead of during the main timeline. Second, nothing really gut-wrenching or potentially soul-destroying happens in this one. I think ‘lighter fare’ gets tossed around as an insult for books, but there’s nothing wrong with not always wanting to read something that requires trigger warnings. I somewhat wrote this to have some fun in between Book 2, Where We Start From, which deals with the death of Poppy’s husband, and Book 4, The Wrong Reasons, in which we meet Mackie’s abusive wife.
Phil, one of our two protagonists, is the oldest of the Hughes siblings. I wanted to draw a parallel between him and Hollis, who’s the oldest girl. Both of these characters are not very interesting in and of themselves – they’re upstanding, no-nonsense, low-drama types. Something from an external source has to happen to them in order to make a plot work. Hollis had to randomly get dragged into a scandal peripheral to her in The Date, and Phil’s boring relationship ends when his fiancée skips out on their engagement party.
As a former Classics major, I’m really influenced by a style of ancient Greek drama called New Comedy. These plays became what we know today as the comedy of manners, which take stock characters and place them in familiar situations. The tension comes from social factors more than anything else.
I had the hazy idea while writing the first two books, that Phil was married to someone he’d known from childhood or had met in school and some type of light comedic drama had ensued prior to his lifetime of wedded bliss. I also had the sense that unlike Mackie, Phil was not an intrinsically romantic person and would probably have to be smacked upside the head with true love. A romantic concept, indeed.
I loved writing awkward yet socially brilliant Abby. In Book 2, I gave her an ongoing sad storyline about not being able to have more children and was a little sorry I did that once I got to know her. Poor Abby, although this was probably the right call for the series. I like to keep things real and not too entirely perfect. Abby embodies a certain ideal – she’s equally one of the guys and extremely ladylike. It was gratifying in the story to watch her blossom the way she does.
Something I introduce in this book that appears again on occasion is Boston Social Diary, a GeoCities-hosted gossip website run by a social-climbing individual named Yvette Harrington. Clearly, the name was adapted from the much more respectable and real New York Social Diary. The fictional BSD is nothing like it, although Poppy exaggerates tales of the real New York version to set up a story about besting Yvette.
Anyhow, despite having the dubious honor of being written as a sort of ‘brain break,’ Into the Sunset is just as significant to the main storyline as any of the other books. Despite taking place in 2004, it informs the rest of the series the same way the others do, which is why it’s part of the main series and not separated out as a prequel.