the Author, Jamie King
by Charlee Lovejoy
Jamie loved animals so much she wanted to own all kinds of little creatures and if she
couldnt own them, she would write about them. She wrote MaryBelle The Manatee
on a December day in 1994. MaryBelles story has touched childrens hearts.
After reading about this kind and gentle creature, I wanted to get MaryBelles story
into the hands of every child in America, so we could stop hurting the thirty percent of
manatees who are injured by motorboats each year.
A year later we entered MaryBelle The
Manatee in a high school creative writing contest. Two months later, a teacher called from
the school to explain that they hadn't received enough good writing material to even have a
contest and that Jamies story was far too good for even their contest. Jamies
story needed to go much further. I knew the teacher was hinting at getting the story
published. The whole idea was completely out of my expertise.
I showed MaryBelle The Manatee to my partner Alan Lovejoy.
He said the story was very good, but it would be better to publish a series of five
books instead of just one. I asked Jamie if she could write four more books. She said,
"Im Jamie King, not Steven King, Mom. Its too hard to write a
Also, Jamie had decided she and her boyfriend were going to
make millions with Amway. All I could think was no books, no college,
no future. Later
that night, Alan and I talked about Jamies talent and how it was being wasted. We
both agreed if we pressured her to write childrens stories, they would not have the
special appeal of MaryBelle. Her talent needed to flow freely.
Later, Jamie came to borrow money for some college courses. Alan
had shown me a newspaper clipping about the Veterinarian Technician School in nearby
Aurora. I showed the article to Jamie and the next day she went to check out the school.
In the meantime, Jamie and her boyfriend had a falling out and
Jamie wanted to move back home. I told her to pack up her things. Her old room would be
ready. Jamie arrived with her belongings, two cats and all her bills.
Jamie loved learning about animals and working with them at
school. After six months Jamie came to me and wanted to know how she was going to pay off
her school loan. I suggested to her, "Why dont you write me four more
stories?" She did. All the stories were so different and wonderful, that Alan and I
decided to publish them ourselves.
It took us several months to find the illustrator to give just
the right look to the stories. David Lemmon, age 22, loved drawing and painting animals.
The illustrations took one year from start to finish. But we wanted to do even more to
motivate children to help animals and, at the same time, encourage them to read. We decided
We talked to over 30 companies that made plush toys. By January, Alan and I picked one of the oldest and finest bean plush toy
manufacturers to help us produce our
companions. The bean plush toys would come
alive through Jamies stories.
Now it seems like ages ago when I first read the MaryBelle story,
and now I am proud to say I saw writing talent in a young girl, and I encouraged
her with all my heart to show it to the world.