The “Oh My Godmother” series
We’d been working as screenwriters, but we both loved middle grade and Y/A fiction. We would discuss what we’d been reading for pleasure: for James, it was the classic “Green Knowe” series and all 10 (16 if you count the extras) “Princess Diaries” books. He kept telling his friends how great they were, and not even their funny looks stopped him from going on to the next one. And Barbara was reading everything from “The Hunger Games” to “The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”
One morning, Barbara came over to work at James’ house and said she’d just seen a near-accident where a teenaged girl driver had almost mowed down an old woman in a crosswalk. The old woman wasn’t hurt, but was understandably upset and angry. Barbara laughingly said, “What if that old woman was somebody’s fairy godmother?”
And, just like that, a story was born.
As we worked out the plot, the teenager became 12-year-old Lacey Unger-Ware. The old woman became 3-inch-tall Katarina Sycorax. And the car in the crosswalk became an unfortunate glitter-glue accident. Katarina doesn’t just get upset and angry: she makes Lacey take her place as a fairy godmother.
Four months of more-or-less full time work later, we had a first draft. Three months after that, Disney-Hyperion bought it, and asked for three additional books about the continuing fairy-godmother adventures of Lacey Unger-Ware. The first one will be in bookstores on May 14, 2013.
The lesson is: pay attention while you’re driving. You might be seeing your next book.