I think I may have told this story a hundred times, but it never gets old, and there’s always someone that hasn’t heard it. It revolves around one of my characters, a tiny beautiful fairy by the name of Pearle that lives in the mushroom patch, which of course, centers around my Mischief series and how she came into existence.
If you’re not familiar with my fairy series, the mischief series, it’s an early reader chapter book series, independent reading level second to fourth grade for both girls and boys. The characters and setting are timeless, purposely written that way, so that kids of all generations can enjoy the stories. There are currently three books, and I’m writing the fourth book right now. The main characters are Lilly, Boris, and Jack. They’re delightful, mischievous at times but in the nicest way, kind, and helpful. I wrote Mischief in the Mushroom Patch for my mom, and I credit her for changing my path from writer to author.
My mom loved fairies. We lost her too soon, and when she was ill, I wrote her Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. The main character, Lilly, was inspired by a fairy that she had sitting by the bed that was given to her from her sister, my Aunt Nancy. I have Lilly sitting on my shelf to this day. My mom, Irene Yvonne Mulroy, was one of the most beautiful, funniest, people I have ever known. She was incredibly important to me, and not just because she was my mom. We were very close. When I wrote the story, she was unable to read the ending before she passed; I hadn’t written it. But I was able to sit with her, in her own bedroom, and tell her the conclusion.
It was then that she made me promise to finish the manuscript, send it out, and see what happened. When I lost my mom, it is safe to say I was absolutely devastated. My heart shattered that day. I couldn’t look at the manuscript, and so against my mom’s wishes, I put it away. A year later, almost to the date of the first anniversary of her death, I woke up in the middle of the night. I could have sworn I heard her voice. “It’s time.” That’s all I heard, but it was the manuscript that popped into my head. Needless to say, I pulled out that manuscript, reworked it, finished it, and sent it off. It was picked up and published, which brings me to beautiful little Pearle.
During one of my book signings at Barnes and Nobles, I spoke to a lady about my book. She purchased it, and as I was signing the copy, I asked her to share with me her thoughts after she’d read it. The lady, Beverly Hutton, took my card but little did I know that exchange would change the course of the series forever. I received an email from Beverly, which I still have, and in short, it stated the following. “Amanda, I was wondering if I might make a suggestion. Could you possibly create a fairy character or write a book with a fairy that has a disability? My daughter, Jeni, would have loved this book, and she always asked me where are the fairies for me?”
I was stunned and flattered when I read the email, and several things ran through my mind. I emailed Beverly back and asked her if she’d give me a minute to think. I might be able to do that…but I need a minute to think – there were things to consider, and I needed time. 1) I was thrilled she’d read it and loved it (Mischief in the Mushroom Patch). 2) I didn’t know her daughter and didn’t want to be disrespectful to her or her family. 3) This was my mom’s book, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to my mom and the story I had written for her. Shortly after that, I wrote to Beverly back again. This time I introduced beautiful little Pearle. I sent her a sample chapter and said, “Meet beautiful little Pearle. Though she can not walk, she can fly with ease, and if you approve, I will continue. I created a chariot for Pearle instead of a wheelchair, and her personality is always pleasant. She doesn’t seem to realize she’s any different, and never complains. Everyone loves her, and she is a joy to be around.” Beverly wrote me back, and said, “I love her, and approve!”
The story continues. 🙂 I continued to write, finished the book, and invited Beverly to the book launch at Barnes and Noble. This was the first time I had met her in person, though we had exchanged emails, and talked on the phone. She purchased dozens of books that day, and being with my other publisher at the time, they were all hardcovers and quite expensive. As I signed each copy, I asked her why on earth she was purchasing so many books. Her response was heartbreaking and wonderful, all at the same time. “I’m donating them to the Scottish Rite Hospital,” she said. “Jeni had nearly fifty-four surgeries there before she passed.” I was speechless for a minute, but found my voice and said, “I’m going with you.”
Needless to say, that’s where our friendship and work together really started. I went with Beverly to the Scottish Rite Hospital. My publisher-donated books, Barnes and Noble, donated books and gift cards, Build-a-Bear donated bears in wheelchairs, and clothes for the bears, and we took the books and gifts and spent all day with the children reading, and making fairy wings, arts and crafts. Our work didn’t stop there; Beverly raised funds, and we spent the weekend teaching writing workshops and donated books to the kids at the Texas Lion’s Camp in Kerrville. Why there? Because that was Jeni’s favorite summer camp. The kids were terrific; had never had an author visit the camp or participated in a writing workshop, and were incredibly creative! We also went to the children’s Pythian Home, and in addition to that, schools, and most recently I signed hundreds of books for a literacy program which she was a part of.
Jeni will forever live on through Pearle in the Mischief series. Some of the things that Pearle, Lilly, Boris, and Jack, get up to, Jeni would have or actually did. Spin a fairling green, was actually a spinning game that Jeni used to play in her wheelchair. Of course, now it has a ‘fairy’ name. Racing down the corridor or through the dormitory, well, Jeni would race down the hallway in her wheelchair, and when Lilly, Rosie, Boris, Jack, and Ivy, pile onto her chair, her friends would do that as well.
Beverly and I continue to work together, and I’ll always include Pearle in this series. But I can’t help but wonder if Pearle wasn’t just meant to be there the whole time…sometimes it seems as if she was always supposed to have been there, in the mushroom patch, with all of the little fairies, giggling and playing their precious fairy games. Fate? Maybe, I don’t know, but I do know that the Mischief series is a series that represents all kinds of beautiful kids, that just happen to be in a sweet fairy version.
Author Amanda M. Thrasher – amandamthrasher.com