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Behind the book

When I write the Tooth Fairy Network books I research real places.  There are several reasons I do this.  I want to kids that live these places to connect with the books, I also want other kids who have never been there before want to visit and with that hopefully, the area will be as excited as I am about the books.  In Alabama's book, it starts in Montgomery.  This is the state capital and most kids would recognize this location.  The rest of to the book setting is in Athen Alabama. 


In my research of Athens, I had a specific location and it comes with a story as most good things.  My four times Great Grandfather, Captain Ward McDonald was in the Civil War.  He had many duties, Scout, Spy, and unfortunately was sent out to find deserters.  In his memoirs, he tells a story about sent to the Martin compound.  The didn't have security systems and this family used bugles.  The story is one of my favorites in his book.  I wanted to try and locate the area, but only had a hand-drawn map, so I tried to get as close as I could.  


I had the pleasure to visit this town and it truly was a magical experience.  I fell in love with the people and the town.  In my research, I looked for an old house.  I needed pictures to help me write, so as funny as this sounds, I looked for houses for sale.  I knew they would have pictures!  I was lucky enough to find 121 E. Jefferson.  I wanted to make sure it was okay to use the house in the house, so I contacted the selling agent, Tammy Balch.  Our first phone call was pretty funny.  She was on vacation walking down a boardwalk when I called.  She didn't know if I was a crank call, but after several minutes I convinced her I was real and she said she would contact the seller, Lanier Greenhaw.  It wasn't long she called me back and he said sure!!  That secured, I needed to find a place to put the common fairy door at.  I did research on the town and saw a cute store up the street from the house and called,  Unfortunately, they declined.  I then contacted Athens-Limestone Tourism and the Mayor's office because I didn't know if I needed a permit to install a door.  (This idea came for the fairy doors in Ann Arbor Michigan).  The tourism agent referred me to talk with Debbie Smith at High Cotton Arts.  I called and spoke with her and she loved the idea.  At the end of our conversation, she invited me to visit.  


I started my day having lunch at Dub's Hamburgers.  This is a local hot spot.  I had been in contact with Lanier either that day and told him we were at Dubs.  He came up and meet us for a few minutes before my meeting at High Cotton.  He is such a nice man.  He was excited to give me a tour of the house and learn more about the book.  We arranged to meet later that day.  I made my way over to High Cotton and found out the Mayor Ronnie Marks was swinging back to meet me.  His PR secretary, Holly Hollman was coming with him.  I was excited to meet them.  Debbie also asked if a reporter from their paper could interview me, Karen Wright Middleton.  I was excited and nervous.   We sat in the back of High Cotton and talked about the book and everyone was excited.  At the end they asked what I was doing next and I said I was touring the Greenhaw's house.  I found out many of them had never been in the house so we all went.  I learned about the towns history, some traditions and the noisy train on this visit.  I incorporated everything I learned into the book to make it personal and special. 



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