The Story Behind the Book


It all started when we wound up in a beat up old farm in southern France one summer.  It was impossible not to fall under a spell.  There were ancient stone buildings, shady fat trees, and crooked mountain in the distance.  Every morning one woke to the loop-de-loops of birds and the incessant summer-is-here crickets; not to mention the ridiculous donkeys braying from the next farm over.  Wildflowers in crayon box colors dotted the countryside.  Psychedelic butterflies circled in the sharp light that covered the walls with wiggley shadows at twilight.  And for the grande finale, millions of stars lit up the huge picture screen of the night sky.  OK.  That was it.  I was hooked.  Enchanted.  And before I could even open my eyes and pinch myself, there we were.  Living there.  Full time.

Then one day something strange happened.  Strange but true.

Jacquelyn, who had never been in the French countryside before, walked into the kitchen early one morning and, low and behold, there was a huge OWL sitting on one of the pink wicker chairs.  Incredible!  He had flown down the chimney!  His huge orange eyes were staring right at us!      


Another day. right by the door, there is this little grey mouse sitting on the back of a lumpy brown toad.  What was the mouse doing there?  She just stayed right on his back.  Not one whisker moved!  Even when a human got really close. 

Finally, one day I go to get some lettuce for lunch from the garden.  But shock!  There in the now pathetic lettuce patch are my poor bedraggled greens all dug out and tossed hither and thither in the dirt.   Why?  It could only be that the wild boars had secretly come into the garden the night before and played football with the lettuces.


Well, I did imagine and think about all these things and other things that had really, really happened.  So much that finally I started to write everything down and, before I could stop myself imagining, they became little stories and, before I could stop myself imagining even more, they became part of a bigger book. After a while this strange family of four from London materialized in the book.  I laughed and named them with an equally strange name: the Jolicoings (pronounced Jollykwangs).

I met a formidable character in my mind named Madame Aligot, who raced all over the place on an old Harley Davidson motorcycle. She came into the pages as well. Next, a fluffy talking sheepdog named Karma jumped into my story and a huge Owl with orange eyes swooped in as well. And then like a flash, loads of other creatures hopped, flew, galloped and scampered into the book as fast as they could.  

When I was listening really closely and imagining hard, they told me this extraordinary story called Journey Back to the Great Before. I wrote it all down on my computer and then tapped the word, send.

And just like that, it flew over the internet into cosmic space, circled the stars a few times, and came back down again.  Now you are reading it.  Presto.

I imagined lots and lots more.  In fact, I can’t remember where the imagining stopped and the magic events in the book took over but it doesn’t really matter since they are all part of the same thing.