When Fiction Becomes Real
Judy is known by her neighbors as “the squirrel lady.” Her door mat says “Welcome to the Nut House!” In 1999, she was a volunteer for a wildlife rehab organization in Byron, GA, with her job being squirrels. A friend brought her a gift from a trip, a toy white squirrel wearing a t-shirt from Brevard, NC, home of the white squirrel. She was so intrigued, she and her husband Jim took a road trip to Brevard to try and see a white squirrel. At the same time she was involved in an online interactive game to raise money for conservation. The game was called Fairyland, and each player needed a character; hers was a little squirrel she named Ozette, who posted little notes for gamers. Game players across the country began asking Judy online for a book based on Ozette’s little posts. Judy, who has an MA in journalism, decided to take the challenge.
She and Jim worked as camp ground hosts at the Davidson River Campground in Brevard when she met the real Ozette, and began to seriously write in 2010. The final editing was done at the Ochlockonee River Campground, FL, where there is also a unique colony of white squirrels. While Jim and Judy read and edited aloud, white squirrels gathered around listening, and unafraid.
Three years ago, Judy and Jim moved from Murphy, NC, to Brevard. They looked at so many houses Judy exclaimed, “I’m so sick of looking at houses! The first house I see with a white squirrel we’re buying.” The neighbors now tell her, “Before you came we only had one squirrel.” Now the white squirrels are plentiful. Judy walks woodland paths in her neighborhood every day and keeps her eye on the nesting tree for signs of new babies who peek out at about six weeks. The babies aren’t afraid of Judy and Jim and the parents bring the little ones to dine at the Pierce’s patio. There have been several white litters in the last three years.
There are three books of Ozette published by Pants on Fire Press. The first two are Tales From Farlandia. The third was written personally for a child with cancer as a fundraiser, a gift from Judy, Ozette, and Pants on Fire Press. “I feel like I didn’t really write the books myself,” Judy says. “Ozette was always there, a part of it. The Divine Piddlewink, the wise old squirrel in the stories, was based on Miss Piddles, the first squirrel I rehabbed many years ago. The real squirrels were always there, always with me, telling me their stories.”
To get to know Judy and her delightful characters, you can visit them on their respective facebook pages:www.facebook.com/Ozette-119900204751625/
Judy’s Author page and website: www.facebook.com/TalesFromFarlandiaOzettesDestiny/
Books may be purchased from Amazon, B&N, kindle,and Pants on Fire Press. An autographed copy is available from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. In Brevard, find them at Highland Books and The White Squirrel Shoppe.