Geraldine believes she is a fairy princess—despite her skinned knees, dirty fingernails and habitual frog rescues.She eats fairy pancakes with fairy dust on top. She builds little houses for her fellow fairy friends. She wears a royal crown and fairy wings, regularly practicing her flying skills. And she does it all with a sense of individuality, authenticity and fierce femininity.
The young adventurer is an imaginative figment in the minds of actress Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton—both familiar faces on the East End. But next year, Geraldine will come to life, just as she appears in “The Very Fairy Princess” children’s book series that the women co-author, which has been optioned by Nelvana for an animated television show.
“We’re so honored and flattered that they felt our ‘Very Fairy Princess’ was adaptation-worthy,” said Ms. Walton Hamilton, director of the Children’s Literature Conference at Stony Brook Southampton. “We’re very excited to see her. This is something we’ve long dreamed of.”
The Canadian entertainment company, a leading producer in children’s animated content, approached the mother-daughter writing team about six months ago, Ms. Walton Hamilton said. Now begins a year of development, she said, as the search for writers, production partners, animators and a network commences.
“And, fingers crossed,” she said, “we move forward from there.”
With eight books in the franchise—published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers—and a ninth on the way come October, appropriately titled, “The Very Fairy Princess: A Spooky, Sparkly Halloween,” Nelvana has plenty of adventures for Geraldine in store, and there is no shortage of ideas from the mother-daughter team, who began writing together in 1998, though “The Very Fairy Princess” series wouldn’t come until a decade later.
“[The first time writing together] was surprisingly easy and comfortable and fun. And over the years, it’s gotten to the point where we just finish each other’s sentences,” Ms. Walton Hamilton said. “Both of us feel we don’t quite know if we could write without each other anymore. Plus, we spend most of our time working and being creative, as opposed to getting into mother-daughter issues.”
Thirty books later, the pair has settled into a groove. Ms. Andrews works with a broad stroke, her daughter explained, a “wonderful sort of cinematic or theatrical perspective that allows her to come up with the great opening images, a fanfare to start with, or a flourish, a character detail, and the perfect last line.”
Ms. Walton Hamilton focuses more on each book’s structure and leaves the spontaneity to her mother, she said, making sure all of the nuts and bolts are in order and keeping them on track.
“We’ve always been very close. My Mom’s every bit as good an egg as people imagine her to be,” Ms. Walton Hamilton said. “She’s very easy to get along with and has this tenderness of spirit. I think that’s the key of our collaboration: mutual respect and generosity and trust that allows us to give and take.”
They also had help from a real-life version of Geraldine herself: Ms. Walton Hamilton’s youngest daughter, Hope, who is now 11.
“I was very much inspired by her, who for a large part of her youth, would only wear dresses and/or be in costume and assume different personalities and characters on any given day,” Ms. Walton Hamilton said. “She would change all the pronouns the books we read to ‘she,’ even Winnie the Pooh.
“We loved that about her and we wanted to write a series for children, particularly for girls, that captured that,” she continued, “and conveyed that it’s wonderful to dress up with the pink and sparkles and the fairy princess stuff, but it’s the inner sparkle that matters most. We want to say to girls, ‘Let your sparkle out and share it with the world.’”
She laughed, adding, “And boys, too.”