Frank Haight, retired community news editor for The Examiner, writes this weekly column. You can leave him a message at 816-350-6363.
Molly, the 11-year-old heroine Duane Porter introduced in his first novel, “Molly O’Malley and the Leprechaun,” is back for another nail-biting adventure with her leprechaun friend, Paddy Finegan.
In the first book of the Molly O’Malley trilogy, Molly takes a trip to Ireland. There she meets Paddy, the leprechaun. They become friends and Molly helps the leprechauns solve a humongous problem.
In the sequel, “Molly O’Malley: Rise of the Changling,” Molly uses the magical gifts her leprechaun friend gave her earlier to return to Ireland. On a mission to see Paddy, she eventually finds him chained to a prison wall for stealing the Fairy Queen’s magical gifts.
Molly helps Paddy break out of prison. But in doing so, they end up in the land of Glimmer, a world where ideas become real.
While escaping from prison, they believe they will be going to Chicago, Molly’s hometown. But instead, they find themselves at the 1893 World’s Fair.
Where to go from here? That’s their dilemma.
Eventually, they opt to return to the Emerald Isle. If they get there, they reason, they can return to the real world from there.
Once in Glimmer, Molly and Paddy experience one adventure after another and live through exciting Irish fairy tales as they happen.
To liven up the fairy tales, Porter has Molly and Paddy talking to the storybook characters, who face many dangers with them.
Porter describes the rocketing start of his second novel as being in a roller coaster that takes off at 90 miles an hour.
“I am really excited about that,” he says, noting it has a faster start than the first novel of the trilogy. “You keep going through one adventure after another until you get to the end.”
One of Porter’s favorite Irish fairy tales is about the origin of the jack-o’-lantern. In one chapter, the devil tricks an old man named Jack into signing away his soul.
Being crafty, Jack tricks the devil into promising he will not take Jack’s soul into hell when he dies.
Jack lives a long life. When he dies, he goes to heaven but cannot enter because of all the bad things he has done in his life. So he is sent to hell.
Greeting Jack on his arrival is the devil who says, “Do you remember that promise I made not to let you in hell? I am going to keep it.”
Instead of entering hell, the Devil tells Jack he will roam the Earth alone forever in darkness.
Jack informs the devil that darkness terrifies him. Then asks him what he is going to do about that. The devil replies he will help him and flicks him an ember from the coal of hell.
Fortunately, Jack has a turnip with him. He carves out the turnip, puts some holes in it and places the ember inside so that it glows, giving him some light as he walks through the Earth.
“And that was the origin of the jack-o’-lantern,” Porter says, explaining that when the Irish came to America, they replaced turnips with pumpkins because they were larger, easier to carve out and more plentiful.
Knowing little about Irish fairy tales, Porter absorbed anything he could find on the Internet. He also looked up names and talked with people in Ireland about pronunciation.
To assist the reader, Porter put a pronunciation guide of Irish terms in the book, because he wanted to make sure the pronunciation and definitions were correct.
When Porter wrote “Molly O’Malley and the Leprechaun,” he envisioned a trilogy. When he decided to write “Molly O’Malley: Rise of the Changeling,” he knew Molly was going to get a special project from the Fairy Queen. He also knew he could not leave magical power in the hands of an 11-year-old Chicago girl.
“Those were the only two things I knew about the plot or anything. And the whole thing has come from those (two things),” he says.
“Molly O’Malley: Rise of the Changeling” is available for $12.95 on Porter’s Web site: buriedtreasurepublishing.com. For those who preorder, the price is $11. For more information, call Porter at 816-210-4314.
The third book in the trilogy it’s entitled “Molly O’Malley and the Pirate Queen.”
Although not completed yet, the book is based on “a figure straight out of Irish history called Grace O’Malley.” The daughter of a Gaelic chieftain in 16th century Ireland, Grace was a pirate and ruled the western coast of Ireland during the latter part of the 16th century. She later came into conflict with the English, who were trying to take over Ireland at that time.
“I am going to have a lot of that history in the next book,” Porter says “because ... Molly is going to be transported back into history ... to the 16th century and meet the real Grace O’Malley.”
Molly will be returning to 1579, the year in which Grace O’Malley’s youngest son, Tibbot, would be 12 years old. Being the same age as Tibbot in this new book will give Molly someone to share her adventures with.
Unlike the more plot-driven Book 2, Porter says Book 3 will be more character driven.
“I can’t do anything else when I am dealing with someone as awesome as Grace O’Malley and exploring her son, Tibbot, who grew to be a wonderful man in his own right.”