Cloudlanders is a story I wrote at age ten. My previous "books"
had been collected bits and pieces; this was a continuous novel,
but picaresque--a series of adventures with the same characters.
In it, my hero and heroine, with a guide bird named Talka (obviously
a talker) get up into the clouds where they discover some are solid,
and boast strange countries. When I ran out of what to tell about
the situation the kids were in, I'd jump them to the next cloud-country.
I was heavily influenced by the Oz books and Alice in Wonderland.
A visiting friend
of my parents who edited the a weekly newspaper, saw the story in
progress, admired my industry, and started to print it in the Galesburg
(Illinois) Post. After a while the printed word caught up to my
written copy, and I sweated under a deadline. One week there was
a box on the front page, and within it the words, "Jackie
Dougan! Authors mustn't let their publishers get ahead of them!
Send in the next installment pronto!" It was too much pressure
for me; I brought my kids down from the clouds shortly after. But
they'd been up there four and a half months, and I was launched
as a published author--one, however, who to this day rarely accepts
a deadline on an unfinished manuscript.