I was nine years old and in full diva tantrum because I wasn’t allowed to go out and play in the woods by my grandmother’s house.  After watching me stomp around in a huff for a half an hour, my grandmother, Esther, came to me and handed me an uncontrollable pile of loose yellow papers.  “This might be a little old for you,” she told me. “But I think you might enjoy them. My Dad, your great grandfather wrote them…” And that was the beginning. 

The type was replete with flourishes, and worn through in places where the ink had been rubbed off to correct mistakes, and there were so many words I didn’t know…but in the pages of this story, I discovered a little girl not much older than myself, and I fell in love with the magic and the joy contained on the old paper.  I curled up in my grandfather’s chair, legs tucked under, brows intent, and I did not move from that spot for the three hours it took me to read the story of AGGIE WINKUM AND THE SNOOTAGUS from beginning to end, twice.
My great-grandfather, John A. Bickerstaff, had been such a prolific writer that his manuscripts had once filled dozens of boxes under the attic eaves of Esther’s home. Though he had never published in his lifetime, it became my family’s goal to get John Bickerstaff’s stories to a new generation. And that might have come to pass, except that after Esther died, my family discovered that all of the boxes of original manuscripts had been lost, and likely destroyed by accident.
This discovery was a tremendous blow.  There was no way of knowing how many of John Bickerstaff’s works had been lost.  Of all the stories he wrote, only five manuscripts survive…and regretfully, my favorite story, the one that instilled such a love of reading in my soul was not among the surviving pages.
I am grateful for my childhood obsession with his work, and for my grandmother’s insistence in cluing me in that day so long ago, for it helped me rewrite my favorite story, AGGIE WINKUM AND THE SNOOTAGUS from memory...and the thrill I had from completing that project gave me the momentum to rewrite the other manuscripts.  What a rush! I never knew the process of writing could be such a thrill ride! It has been an interesting “collaboration”, and I have never enjoyed working on a project as much as I have these stories.  As I edited, tweaked, and sometimes rewrote entire sections or whole stories from scratch, I felt like my great-grandfather was sitting behind me, whispering in my ear.

I have endeavored to rewrite his stories using as much of my great-grandfather’s voice and writing style as I could remember, and I can honestly say they so wanted to be written that I could feel the characters skipping about in my mind as the words touched the page. 
I hope you love his stories as much as we have, but I should warn you --
Once you let these characters into your heart, you'll never want them to leave.