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In The Vanishing, there are protector animals called Guardians. Most of them are enormous creatures, but there is this one tiny, little hawk named Ismael. What most people don’t know is that he is named after another little guy with a big heart.
This is Ismael Arreola. What a cutie, right? When Miracle Maker first came out, I signed a copy of the booklet for his uncle and aunt to give to him. Ismael was excited to have his very own book, signed to him personally. He showed everyone at his school.
Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled that this amazing kid was telling his friends and teachers about my Miracle Maker. Then something terrible happened. His little copy of the booklet fell into a puddle and was ruined. By that time, the Miracle Maker booklets were selling out everywhere, and I was out too. Because the holiday season was wrapping up, no more booklets were being printed. I had nothing to replace it with for him. I felt terrible. I got him one when they were printed the next year, but waiting a year is forever when you’re a little kid.
About that time, I was toying around with a new idea for a middle-grade book with dice rolling. I asked my son, Brenick, to help me come up with some interesting twists for it. I spent the next couple of weeks running ideas by him, and we talked about different characters and plot points. He was sure I was trying to trick him into becoming an author (he was kind of right). My main focus was to write a book that kids like Brenick would actually enjoy enough to keep reading, even when reading didn’t come easy. One day, Brenick was frustrated with me pulling info out of him. He said, “Mom, the guy named John needs to fight with a staff, and the giant bear will protect him.”
“What?” I sputtered. “There isn’t a guy named John, or a giant bear.”
Brenick just looked at me, and without even a blink he said, “Oh, there will be.” Then he went back to doing what he was doing, and the wheels started to spin in my head. The Guardians became an exciting new part of The Vanishing, along with a character named John.(Of course)
As I brainstormed each animal and the person they protect, this little hawk kept coming to mind. At first, I shrugged off the idea. How could a tiny hawk help fight against the horrible creatures in the Gamekeeper’s world? Then I remembered my own, personal hero, Ismael who championed my little booklet with such amazing kindness. I realized you don’t have to be big to make a big difference. So, when you read the book and come across this little champion, just know that what makes him so amazing is his huge heart and the special boy he was named after. Thanks, Ismael. You will always be my hero.
If you would like a copy of The Vanishing, you can pre-order one through Kickstarter for only a few more days. Here is the link. CLICK THE K IN THE TOP LEFT CORNER AND IT WILL TAKE YOU THERE.