Who are the readers? Anyone who reads international thrillers would enjoy this. This project encompasses sites in the Kremlin, America, and Middle East with characters of all colors and faiths. Readers of Joel C. Rosenburg’s Dead Heat and David Baldacci’s The Whole Truth would enjoy this. Stories are always big concepts in which presidents, kings, and world leaders are eventually brought into the action.
The Future: Work with the various library and reader associations with presentations to encourage youngsters to pursue their ambitions.
A short interview with Reynold Jay, the restoration leader for the series, “ The Wurtherington Diary.”
~ Interviews ~
The Art and the Artists of the Wurtherington Diary
“Hi everyone! This is Sandy Endicott and with me today is Reynold Jay. Let's get started with the first question. What motivated you to become involved with the Wurtherington Diary project? Up to this point you had written a wide variety of novels, none of which would be considered to be for children.”
RJ “That right, Sandy. The Wurtherington Diary was a leap of faith to become involved with such a thing. I was not much interested at all and was figuring out ways to turn it down without disappointing Amara and Mr. Landsbury. However; I did agree to take a peek at it and when I did, I could see this was not the usual diary that one would expect. After reading a few pages, I could tell I had to do this. I reminded myself that I had been around children all my life with my work as a teacher in special education. I could see children around the world becoming entranced with the Diary. With a little luck, it could very well become my legacy.
S.E. "You felt drawn to it then?"
RJ "Oh yes, I was hooked and as I look back, I really don't remember the moment that I decided that this was where I belonged. Yes, I had found my place in the writing world where I could be comfortable. I knew my role as a writer of novels was over and that I would lead a team of experts in giving the diary all the care that it needed."
S.E. "What did you figure it needed?"
R.J. "It needed to be restored to it's original beauty. Tammy had all these drawings she had inserted into the diary and to leave them out would have been a travesty. She was a remarkable little girl--that is certain. One can see it in the writing and in the art. The two together is remarkable, to say the least. I have an art degree; however I really had no extraordinary talent. I knew I would need to find restoration artists who would embrace the project."
S.E. "I see you found several artists. How did you find them?"
R.J. "I looked around for children's artists only briefly and I could see their art was much different than Tammy's. Ms. Wurtherington has a maturity one would not anticipate in a ten-year-old and we needed artists that could copy her style."
S.E. "I don't understand...."
R.J. "You should understand that many of the drawings were in tatters and needed more than restoration. Many were incomplete, from the flood, I suppose, and would need to be recreated. Not an easy task at all. I worked with several artists and all of them did their very best. I found Nour Hassan a talented gal in Egypt and she did well. I was happy with her work. Bear in mind that the colors had all faded and we began with the idea of publishing the original parchments. After a time I felt that mainstream readers would not accept these and we went back and colored everything. Nour, Jesse Ty, and Tenda Spencer all pitched in and soon we had some really great colored art.
S.E "So what did you do with the original drawings?"
R.J. "I decided we would release limited editions of the original parchments and then the restored sketches. The diary would remain unchanged other than the art. We had so much art I decided to work up the color books as I knew our young readers would want to color everything too."
S.E. "You left out Duy. When did she come on board?"
R.J. She contacted me. I told her I was all set with my staff and she begged to be a part of it. I had left the positions up and running at an online employment agency called odesk. I had forgotten to remove them. Fate stepped in. She saw it and contacted me. I gave her little thought and said she could send a sample of what she envisioned."
S.E. "Did she send a sample?"
R.J. "Oh, yes!"
S.E. "I sense that you liked what you saw."
R.J. "That would be an understatement. I could see at a glance that she could bring Tammy's art to it's full glory. Very quickly she became my 'senior artist' and everything had to go through her. She lived in Vietnam at the time and then moved to Canada in January of 2015. She made the move hoping that the Diary would catch on and she could make a life for herself. It is my hope that her restorations will bring her international acclaim. She is a wonderful person and a brave soul. She says her English is not that good and it is held against her in her quest to find employment in Canada. In our communications, she seems perfectly fine to me.
I must mention that Tenda Spencer (working from China) felt he wanted to do the Ali Baba story and he did a marvelous job. We left his work intact. That book will look a tiny bit different from the others as it has his creative touches coming to the surface."
Jesse Ty (from the Philippines) deserves our praises too. He worked on the map parchments for the most part. That map of Kira took him over three weeks to restore it. We use parts of the map throughout the first book. It is a thing of beauty and I imagine art collectors will want a copy of it for their collections. You would need to view it in a very large size in order to appreciate all the hard work that went into it. There is an incredible amount of detail in that map."
S.E. "Thank you RJ for talking to me. From what I have seen of it, I know the Diary will be well received."
~ What I learned from Tammy Wurtherington about Freedom ~
Tammy Wurtherington wrote a diary in 1883 that was recently discovered and was prepared for publication by myself (Reynold Jay). In her writing the reader will discover that Tammy was little more than a "Little Doll Girl." She loved to create and play with her dolls. A she became drawn into the lives of others she takes it upon herself to help those around her to find a better life. As we travel along with her on her many adventures in history we discover that much of the conflict has to do with "Freedom."
On her initial journey to Kira she is called upon to save the harvest from being confiscated by the evil sorceresses. We can concluded that the food was to be redistributed by the sorceresses as they wished or perhaps sold to foreigners in order to boost the kingdom's treasury. The fear, as one would expect, was that the Kakuna elves would be left with little to nothing for their efforts.
Others can make of this what they will. I knew a bit about history and could not help in seeing a comparison to Stalin's "collectivism" of the farms in Russia in 1932. For those not familiar with that historical event, allow me to summarize. The harvest was sold to foreign governments and is is estimated that ten million citizens/farmers of the Ukraine died of starvation. I look at the events in the Ukraine now and can easily understand why the citizens there resist the current takeover of the country by the Russians. One can imagine the hatred of the older folks for the Russians. It could be argued, based upon that event, that Stalin was the most evil man in history.
In Tammy's diary we see that Tammy immediately understands that the harvest belonged to the Kakuna and that it was a cause worth fighting for. "Freedom" was never mentioned in her accounting of her battle with the evil sorceresses; however as she moved to the ensuing encounters later in the Diary, she finds herself battling for freedom over and over again.
She joins the rebels in the American Revolutionary War in her next encounter. She sees that the King of England plans to use the colonies as a land that contributes its wealth to the mother country. That wealth is valuable to the King of England and worth sending Hessians to keep the colonists in line in order to collect it. So again we see that food, and wealth are at the center of the struggle. If we were to define freedom it might be that an individual might be best left alone and allowed to keep the fruits of his labors. Herein lies the struggle: there are those who wish to take away as much as they can (tyranny) and then others who wish to keep as much as they can (freedom).
In her travels to Switzerland, Tammy encounters the tiny villages of the Alps knowing that the Hapsburgs of Austria are going to march an all-powerful army through the land and cause unimaginable devastation. She discovers that the Swiss had bought off the Austrians many years earlier and the arrangement was that the Hapsburgs would leave the Swiss alone. The Swiss had bought and paid for their "freedom" AKA freedom from taxes. Arrangements during the dark ages were quickly forgotten as kings passed on and their sons took the reigns of government.
When Tammy meets William Tell, he correctly sums it up, "The Hapsburgs make up the rules as they see fit. When the torch is passed from one Hapsburg to another, each one decides if they will honor the previous charters. In that they are persons of little conscience, they make decisions based upon their power to wield a blade. Me thinks if they determine that they can collect taxes without much resistance they will do exactly that."
It is at this point that Tammy fully realizes what she has become: a freedom fighter. I came to realize that even a child can understand that taxes and tyranny ( both begin with the "T") are closely intertwined. I imagine that I am much like Tammy now and may fully understand for the first time why taxes can be a way of chocking freedom. Like most of us reading this, we were born into our time and place where taxes are a way of life and very much accepted as being needed. The Swiss leaders let their freedom slip away when they allowed the Hapsburgs to issue a tax in order to build a road. From there it escalated in to an intolerable situation where the populace were grabbed off the streets and turned into slaves in order to build the roads. Of course, the evil Gessler (a Hapsburg tyrant) moved into the village, built a castle from the tax money and insisted that the Swiss bow down to worship his hat. One must ask, "How much of this are we going to take before we rebel?"
At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence we find that the words of Zeke and Cedric have nailed the crux of the struggles they witnessed--
Tammy writes in her Diary.... Cedric and Zeke continued to use the flowery language they acquired in Philadelphia which I found to be quite amusing. We sat on the bed. I asked, "What have you learned from all this?"
Zeke said, "Forsooth, Mistress Wurtherington, I wonder what would have happened if King George III had been a fairly decent chap?" He lifted his tea cup daintily and brushed a napkin tidily across his lips.
Cedric said, "'Tis truly inquired as a gentlemen of most astute wisdom. For it is a question that will span the centuries and many a wise person will naught find a proper reply. Pray, consider, my humble opinion, Sir Zeke and that would be that we would be a colony at this very moment. His tyrannical treatment of the colonists, would be much like stirring up a hornet's nest when it would be better to leave it be."
Zeke said, "We could sayeth that King George the III did us a favor; for one who is content is naught to do much of anything."
When one encounters such wisdom in the pen of a ten-year-old over one-hundred years ago, you might begin to understand why this humble person felt the diary must be brought to fruition.
~ Another Interview with Reynold Jay ~
BF: Ten-year-old mute girl, Tammy Wurtherington residing in the Wixby estate is the author of the diaries which tell your historical fiction stories. She loves to make dolls and is also referred to as To the Little Doll Girl. Correct?
RJ: Yes, that is the central concept.
BF: What or who is the basis for this character? Why did you choose her viewpoint to tell your stories?
RJ: I had worked with Amara on Eternal Defilement on her life story as a child. She needed help with it and it was a gut-wrenching experience for both of us. Both of us were stronger individuals for the effort. In that the book placed me into the head of a tormented little girl. I developed a lot of compassion for girls as never before. I knew that was to be the direction for the series. I give her credit in all the books for her inspiration.
BF: There are at least eleven books in the Wurtherington Diaries. Through time travel, Tammy meets famous historical and fictional characters such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, William Tell, Buffalo Bill, and Robin Hood. Why did you choose to mix actual historical events with classic tales in this series?
RJ: That is a good question, Bonnie. I wanted to write something memorable that would possibly become a legacy for me. I was ready to do my very best after writing successfully in other genres. In that I spent my life around little ones I felt that the children might enjoy my ten-year-old Tammy Wurtherington. I wanted a character that adults and children would both find worthy to emulate. Could a little girl change the world? The answer is "Yes!" In that she is brought up by a loving Aunt May she has an upbringing that is pure joy and gives her strength of character like no other. I imagine any reader will see her as a strong-willed person right from the very first page.
I must admit that I spent a year studying the classic books that appear on all the top 100 classic lists. I wanted to write a "classic." I incorporated much of what I learned into the stories. The result is something quite extraordinary. It was an effort that paid off as I quickly found "Super Readers" who wanted to join my team. I am happy to report that I found a place for all.
I would like to mention that the art is meant for adults as well as children. It is much more elaborate than one usually sees in children's books. According to our story line, Tammy is the artist and my staff did the restorations. In that Tammy is not the average child, her water colors are fairly sophisticated for 1883. I felt the stories were important enough to make available in various editions. Editions vary according the the reader's age and then different art ( in various stages of restoration) appears in many editions. I anticipate that the fully restored color-adult reader editions will be the most popular. Purest collectors will seek out the original parchment and sketch editions. Over eighty books are available. All of the 400 pieces of art is fine art quality and is made available at our international artist site Fine Art America.
BF: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
RJ: Thank you for offering to interview me! I am a retired Special Education teacher and business entrepreneur. I operated a string of retail stores under the umbrella of Confectionery World, Inc. I was an entertainer and teen night-club owner during college years. I had a knack for management and often ended up managing the clubs where I entertained. I'm a senior citizen and sell comics books and art all over the globe. And, I love to write a tad as well.
"Freedom" is what this series is all about. Tammy goes wherever freedom is threatened in our history. Had any of these events in history gone astray our world would be a very different place today. Each book is determined by the actual events in history, not some made-up story. When anyone finishes any of the books, they will come away with a firm understanding of historical events and how they impact our lives.
BF: How do you decide which event or character to write a Wurtherington Diaries book about? How do you research each topic? You have strategies for keeping your research organized that could benefit other writers?
RJ: I try to find history that is relevant to English speaking readers. I did search for history events in China, etc. and calculated that very few would be interested. American history is at the forefront, The Declaration of Independence, The California Gold Rush, Buffalo Bill ( he was more important than most would admit). William Tell and Robin Hood were very likely the most important freedom fighters of all time. I had told myself I would not do a Robin Hood story; however, when I researched the Magna Carta I discovered he was at the very heart of it! My original title was Tammy and the Magna Carta and then I found that Robin Hood and the Magna Carta was the proper way to go.
Bear in mind I had no idea of the proper history of any of the books until I began researching. William Tell was the big surprise for me. He was a humble man who simply wanted to live in solitude in the forest with his family. Events were intolerable in Altdorf under Gessler, a cruel Austrian Duke. Tell was drawn into the fray in the town square in the story with the apple. From there he led the Swiss on a journey toward freedom during his entire lifetime. Tammy is at his side most of his life seeing that all goes well. I was surprised how little is written of William Tell. I imagine that this book will be held as the definitive book on his life.
Organization? I research everything I can find on a subject and keep records of it all on a computer. The Magna Carta has an amazing and complex series of events that led up to it. It was a Herculean task to sort it all out and come up with the basic story. I needed to list all the persons involved in it at the front end of the book so readers could have a quick reference as to who was who. Tammy thinks of it as a "Chess game" with living Kings and Queens. While all of this is deadly serious, readers will laugh their way through the books as Tammy is accompanied by her mischievous critters, Cedric, Zeke. Alfred, and Polly. Bless their cute little hearts! Readers are reporting that they have fallen in love with all of them.
The result for anyone reading the books is that they will walk away with knowledge that few others possess. If history repeats itself my readers will have a better understanding of the current events and have a good idea where it is headed. I imagine that the theme of lectures that I may give will be centered around FREEDOM.
BF: You've also written an apocalypse book, Forty Days to Armageddon, and a sequel. It uses events in the news to predict future catastrophe. How long did it take you to research these books? Why did you choose to write them?
RJ: I wanted to write the best thriller of all time ( I enjoy high aspirations). I read all the thriller books by the top writers for about a year and knew I could do better than most. I had a heck of a great tale to tell as I could very well see where history was headed. The first page begins with the Iranians successfully doing a nuke test. From there I asked, what would be a course of events that would follow this. From there I wove a tale that was a tiny bit of a stretch, but entirely within the realm of possibility. Book one covers the first twenty days to a grand finale and then the second book takes it all the way to the fortieth day. Any book needs characters of strength like no other--someone we can admire and Watchdogg fit the bill. Readers are clamoring for a movie. It is a fast-paced breathtaking read for most. My feeling while writing it was that the reader would never be allowed to take a breath. After reading so-called thrillers, I often felt the pace was a bit leisurely and the "thriller" part of it was a let down. Nope--not in my tale. Each chapter is more "edge of your seat" thrills than the one preceding it and the pace never lets up.
BF: On Amazon, you say that Lean Against the Wind is "based upon a true story". You also say " God sees that much of his creation has withered and died. His last hope is that Earth can be saved and is perhaps all that can be salvaged. He sets upon a desperate plan in which he sends seeds to Earth that are mankind’s hope for survival. He sends an archangel to assist the four seeds, the three generations of the Lancaster family." Can you explain this incongruity?
RJ: It is a fictional accounting of my life as a special education teacher. The quote you mention is meant to raise questions for the reader. "What the heck is this about?" As the three tales unwind it becomes clear that God has sent the Lancaster's to save the world from destruction, but failed to give them the role as angels who knew their mission. As they make their way in the world ( as nearly human) they quickly discover they have great powers, and they soon discover their role in their holy quest.
BF: Lean Against the Wind is the first, I believe, in a trilogy. Could you tell us the order in which they should be read?
RJ: Lean against the Wind is the tale of Raymond Lancaster ( the second seed) in his two year stint as a teacher.
The Gold of Mansa Musa is a tale about his daughter Ci who embarks upon an Egyptian adventure with her boy friend.
Seeds from Heaven is the last and most important book in the series. This is the story of the Lancaster's that spans the three generations in an epic story that ends up saving mankind from certain (spiritual) destruction.
BF: The blurb for Born To Be Rich reads "An exciting new motivational book, Born To Be Rich could very well be the most important book you'll read in this decade. This wealth of motivational information could become the guiding light for yourself in the coming years ahead." Have you used these techniques to become rich?
RJ: Yes and no! I do use the techniques as do many successful people. If I wanted to be fabulously rich I would spend my time very differently than I do now. I could easily do what Donald Trump did to become a billionaire and the basic concepts are there for all to see. He certainly has applied the philosophy outlined in the book to his own personal liking. Nope--I'm not a billionaire. I would rather write and leave a different kind of legacy. By the way, that was my first book written back in 1976.
Three Random Questions:
BF: If, for one month, you could live at any famous residents or house in the entire world, which one would you pick?
RJ: I think I'd like to hang out with Willie Nelson and his friends. We would be buddies in a quick minute. Hopefully, he would not be high on drugs! If I could go back in time, I would love to chat with Thomas Jefferson and William Tell.
BF: If you could bring to life any fictional character from a book or movie, whom would you choose?
RJ: All of my main characters come to mind; however I'd like to see Gulliver of Gulliver's Travels or Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
BF: If rain could fall in any scent, what scent would you want it to be?
RJ: The scent of Pine would do nicely. It reminds me of my Dad who loved to walk through the forests in Michigan with his sons.
Thank you for your insightful interview, Bonnie. I can tell you that you made yourself familiar with my books! I imagine that few realize the serious nature of children's books and the effort that can go into them. This series with the various editions encompasses over one million words and three years to bring to fruition. Let's hope this helps to find a few readers who become adoring fans or super-readers!