amy young
school visits

Before I even got the idea for THE MUD FAIRY, I was inspired by where I live. Here is the view right outside my studio in wintertime:


Winter is pretty but there is not a speck of green, and it is hard to believe the earth will ever come to life again. But here is the view in springtime:


Here is a violet:

and some trillium:

jack in the pulpit:

and columbine:




I was not only inspired by what I could see, but also by what I could hear. In winter the marsh is quiet and still.  In spring, it gets really loud with frogs. We hear spring peepers, green frogs, gray treefrogs, deep-voiced bullfrogs and more. You can hear what they sound like if you go to this link.

So I knew that there had to be frogs and flowers in my story. But there also had to be a main character. Enter Emmalina, a little fairy who had her own way of doing things. Emmalina is her own fairy, so to speak, but she was partly inspired by a little girl I know. 

The little girl was six when I met her. She looked like a delicate little fairy, but she didn't particularly like to do dainty and delicate things. She liked to go, go, go! To run and play in the dirt and jump off the highest post into the lake and swing on the jungle gym and zoom on the zip line and then do it all over again, faster. I loved her amazing energy and her robust sense of self. I got to wondering how it would be for a fairy who was like that, when all the other fairies were doing sweet and delicate things. The story grew out of that: a character in an interesting situation.



Once I had the story figured out, it was time to really get familiar with Emmalina's world. I drew flowers and frogs for months. As I drew, I got ideas for how fairies might use plants. For example, they might make a pretty skirt out of miniature tulip petals, or use a lily of the valley flower as a cup.

The frogs I had to draw mostly from photographs, because they wouldn't sit still for long. But one day a little treefrog climbed the outside of my door, and I drew him as many times as I could before he got bored and hopped away.sketch


So that is the inspiration behind the story. Lots of work already! But fun work, the kind I love.

persistence | research | practice | The Mud Fairy