Here’s a confession. I came up with the world of St. Gaff’s way before I had thought of Howie. I initially wrote Once out of Nature as a screenplay. In it Howie was just a minor character. It wasn’t until I started thinking of a fiction podcast as a spin-off of Once out of Nature that Howie morphed into the character he is now.
One of my inspirations forSt. Gaff’s and its characters was the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. This, I’ve heard, is a play that’s often put on in U.S. high schools (I’m Canadian, so I’m taking this at face value). That’s likely because the play is widely seen as a celebration of the wholesome values of life in small town America.
In fact, though, the play is a scathing attack on small town life. The sneakiness of Wilder’s attack really appealed to me. The play is, moreover, a profound meditation on the meaning of life. There is also a milkman in the story. And his name is Howie.
If you’re interested here’s
a longer take on why Our Town is actually a ruthless critique of small town life.