We get a fair few fans of Erin Hunter’s bestselling YA Warriors series to WU because we were lucky enough to interview authors Kate Cary and Cherith Baldry, who write the books under the pen name Erin Hunter, as well as the brains behind the series, senior editor Victoria Holmes, who is an accomplished author of YA novels in her own right. Vicky was a guest contributor for WU for some time, providing insights into the growing YA market until the Warriors phenomenon exploded and demanded more of her attention. So it deeply saddened us when Vicky alerted us to a tragedy that had occurred to a devoted fan who, with her parents, was killed in the horrific tornadoes scouring the midwest in February.
According to Lynn Wiman of Vintage Books, a bookseller who knew Emmy:
Erin Hunter has no greater fan than Emmy Cherry. She not only read every book, but insisted that we all read them. I am 50 years old, and reading them. Her grandparents are reading them. Her aunts are reading them. Every child in the Middle School is going to read them. Because they are Emmy’s favorite authors.
But Emmy’s legacy won’t stop there. Vicky will be remembering this young girl in an extraordinary way. This from an AP article published in an Arkansas newspaper, The Morning News:
Emmy, 10, will become Brightspirit, a beautiful silver tabby featured inside the fantasy world of the “Warriors,” a series about cats that battle inside their magic forest home. Shiningheart will represent Emmy’s mother Dana while Braveheart will be father Jimmy in the series’ next book, “Long Shadows.”The tornado, with winds of up to 266 kph, left only a slab where the Cherrys’ house once stood. Family members recovered a few memento’s, including a book report Emmy Cherry once wrote on the series.
Victoria Holmes, one of the authors ghostwriting the series under the name Erin Hunter, said the idea to use the family in a book came after a used-book store owner contacted publisher Harper Collins requesting items for an auction benefiting a storm relief effort.
An online forum for child reading fantasy fiction went further, suggesting the family should have a role in the book series, aimed at preteens.
“At first, I had reservations about whether we should draw it to their (readers’) attention . . . I feel like we don’t always need to be reminded of our own mortality at that age,” Holmes, 36, said from her home just outside of London. “But, equally, ‘Warriors,’ the series, deals with some pretty big issues, including death and tragedy and what happens when you die and how you deal with grief.”
As communities still clean up from the storms, Holmes and the other writers in the series signed books and collected other memorabilia to be auctioned off. The money will go to the ‘Warriors Relief Fund,’ which will be administered by Emmy’s grandmothers.
“The fund is going to be used for anything that Emmy might have wanted to donate money to in her local community,” Holmes said. The first purchase will likely be school uniforms to two boys orphaned by the Atkins tornado.
Holmes will leave London for a U.S. tour next week. While in Memphis, Tenn., she plans to meet with Emmy’s family.
She acknowledged it might be hard to be a stiff upper lip during the meeting.
“I’m going to need so much waterproof mascara,” she said.
Arkansas has one of the lowest literacy rates in the U.S. But Emmy Cherry knew the value of books. They were her world. We can honor that.
If you can, please help. Donate.
The snailmail address is:
Warriors Relief Fund
c/o Kay Cherry
3439 SR 326
Russellville, AR 72802
As soon as their website is up and running, we’ll post the link to that as well.
And HERE’s a link to a video clip of the story, in which Vicky is interviewed by phone and explains more about memorializing Emmy and her family.
Hopefully, some good will come out of this tragedy.