“I haven’t checked in my OED (it’s just too hard for someone my age, even with the magnifying glass) but I think the word “prequel” is a fairly recent invention. Sequel: that’s a word we all know. Sequels have been around a long time; I’ve even written several, over the years.
But suddenly I’m hearing the word “prequel” from readers.
In 1993, I wrote a book called The Giver which was intended for a young audience, for readers maybe 10-14 years old. Its almost immediate success (it was awarded the 1994 Newbery Medal, and has sold millions of copies now, in thirty-some languages) took me by surprise. Set in the somewhat distant future, it depicted a world that had gone awry and become devoid of empathy or compassion, a world in which individual human lives had little value. I had thought of it as a fairly straightforward adventure story.
But young people didn’t read it quickly and move on to the next thing, the way they often do. They found something in the book that resonated at the same time that it puzzled them. How had that happened? they asked me—first in letters, now in emails. What went wrong? How can we keep this from happening?
I’ve given them simplistic answers. Verbal shrugs. It would have been gradual, I told them. It would have involved small compromises.
In order to be safe . . . we’ll give up this small freedom.
In order to be comfortable . . . we’ll sacrifice this.”
Source: Dear Reader – The Bulwark
DL: She wrote