It’s a strange and exciting day today for me! I am writing the first book in a new series, Katie in Fairyland. It’s a companion series to The Fairy House, a series which first published in the UK in 2004.
Katie, the creative only child of an artist, moves into a new house and leaves her dolls’ house out under an oak tree on a scrap of land (the Almost Meadow) behind her garden over night. In the morning, she’s very surprised to find that four feisty fairies have moved in! She shrinks to fairy size and plays with them in the house, and they have all kinds of adventures, and save the oak (which is actually a magic portal) from the bulldozers of a local property developer, securing the connection between earth and fairyland forever.
So there I was, writing the first Fairy House book seventeen years ago, at a friends’ house, who is an artist. I started working on the characters and the storylines while I was staying there, to distract myself from a break up with my boyfriend at the time. My friend, Kirsty, got out all her clothes and we worked out what kinds of things the fairies might wear, and the colours they would like. I remember, during this bit of authorly hard work, her saying, ‘Why have I never been a hippy? I should be a hippy’ as we looked at the dreamy, sunny outfits for Daisy the summer fairy.
Katie was based (among other inspirations and plenty of imagination!) on my friends’ daughter, and she was seven when the first one was published. I’m sitting here writing the first in the new series and her wedding invitation is on my desk. She’s all grown up now, with a gorgeous child, a son, of her own. That beautiful girl who used to make me play teachers and pupils, and dress up, and with whom I once has a hysterical time playing with Weebles (the Virgin Mary in a speedboat, anyone?) is living on in a character, in her very own new series, where she gets to go to Fairyland.
The Fairy House series had one of those long, arduous and interesting publishing journeys over many years (I’m sure the authors reading this can relate!). Eight books out of the planned twelve were published in the UK – despite a strong start, the series faced tough competition and the last four books were never commissioned. I was really keen to finish Katie and the fairies’ story, and was thrilled when the Japanese editions quietly came out year after year and did really well, all the way to me writing the last four books and getting to finish the story! And then… wonderful surprise and massive bonus… all the way to a brand new series!
So I’ve written these characters now for twenty years – or they have written themselves via me, more like! Bluebell is as bossy and inventive as ever, Daisy as dreamy and kind, Rosehip as creative and gifted with animals, and Snowdrop, the little winter fairy, as keen a reader and writer as ever. I am much older, and hopefully a little bit wiser but still playful enough to be keen to welcome enchantment into my life when the fairies come knocking to tell another story. Katie has grown into a kind, beautiful, thoughtful woman and Mum. Publishing is full of twists and turns and surprises, and sometimes what seems to be the end of the road for a series is just a pause before a fabulous new chapter begins. So here’s to all the stories that we set sail in, and that set sail in us! Enjoy every moment!