By: Donna J Setterlund

My serendipity life became real way back at the beginning of my writing career when I met one of the most amazing individuals who ever lived. I should say we met, because my husband Cliff was always by my side on our complicated journey called life since we got married in 1987. 

We were frustrated trying to recover from the 1992 Humboldt County earthquakes, and I was a desperate woman searching for the magic to make sense of my tumultuous complicated life. I had been painting and writing short stories for about six months as therapy, and had ideas for a story to connect everything. But having no experience as an author, no powerful backup system, and very little money to work with, I prayed for a way to keep going with this really good idea?

Believing in me and trying to help, a friend shared a book that had some names of people, phone numbers, and production companies in Hollywood. I looked through the little book carefully, found a company that looked interesting, and called the number. A sweet voice answered the phone. “Hello, may I help you?” After a short conversation about what I was doing and why I had called, the sweet lady said. “I will have my son call you back. This is his company and I am just visiting.” I thanked her and waited for a call that came the very next day. We were invited to come to Hollywood for a 15 minute meeting the following week.  

We put together a display, packed up their Chevy Van, and with extreme excitement headed for our meeting. It took two days to drive from Northern California to Las Angeles. We slept in our van at rest stops and eat snacks we had brought from home, to save money. Pulling into the underground parking lot of a five star hotel, we felt like the Clampets going to Hollywood. Checking in at the front desk I pulled out two crisp $100 bills and requested a room for two nights. The clerk politely asked if I would like to put the $200 balance on my card. We didn’t have a credit card back then so I told him one night would be fine. 

What a wonderful time we had walking around the hotel enjoying all their attractions. We had appetizers in the main floor dinner house, and $10 beers in the Bird Nest Bar on the rooftop. Then we sat up half the night looking out the floor to ceiling glass window from the 22nd floor watching the cars and people far below. We were living the high life and neither one of us could sleep because of our excitement. The next morning we headed for our meeting early so we wouldn’t be late. We carried two very large portfolio cases stuffed with as many display pictures as we could pack into them. We were ready.

Walking through the doors of a large conference room, we were welcomed to Hollywood by four people. Eric a Producer, Helen a Writer, Bob another Producer, and a sweet little lady named Margaret. And so it began, three hours later we were asked to come back the next day so we could talk some more.

During our meeting, we learned that Margaret, was the lady who had answered the phone when I called the week earlier. She was Disney’s original studio model for Tinkerbell and had just stopped by her son’s Studio for a visit. Cliff and I were both stunned and almost overwhelmed by our reception that first meeting. And, to top off a most amazing day, both Cliff and I got hugged by Tinkerbell in the elevator on our way out. I don’t know who was more excited. After almost thirty years Cliff still talks about that hug and our Hollywood encounter. Our little 15 minute meeting lasted three days. They sent us home with instructions for what to do next, along with their encouragement and blessings.    

Inspiration had come in the form of an amazing woman named Margaret, who was the studio model for “Tinkerbell” in the original movie “Peter Pan.”  Tinkerbell took me by the hand and sprinkled me with pixie dust, encouraged me to look for the things I didn’t know I needed, and shared her serendipitous personality. This fortuitous magic ignited the curiosity that started everything, and led to a lifetime of writing and illustrating the dozens of stories that I now share with families and children everywhere.

Thank you Margaret for being a friend and mentor all these years. It has been your influence and the fact that you are such an incredible person that has made me a better story teller and more complete woman. Your favorite word is serendipity and it was serendipity that changed my life forever.


Copyright 2019 – Donna J. Setterlund

  Zontoria Productions, Cottonwood, CA 96022

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