My name is not Molly Meary.
I’m not trying to be clever and it wouldn’t be hard to figure out my real identity (please don’t though – believe me you’ll be bored shitless in seconds). Regardless if my books are successful or not I hope whoever finds my work enjoyable can also appreciate the real reasons I chose to use a pen name.
I tried a few.
People have often mistaken me for a Josephine and a fortune teller once told me if you get called a name more than three times it means it was probably from a past life so clearly that must be true. Joke. Not sure if I believed that completely, but it sounded cool, so Josephine Clory was born. She didn’t last long.
It’s one of the most random things to have to consider – using a name that’s not your own. I grappled with every pro and con regarding whether or not I should publish So You Are… Pregnant! under my real name. In the end I chose the alias for the protection and privacy of my children. While it’s therapeutic to air my issues and help others heal and get our global collective vibe on – my future teenage/adult children may have a different perspective on their early childhood being splashed out for all to know.
Molly is a character introduced in Part 3 of The Warder’s Cottage – who morphed into a hybrid/alternate version of myself. Molly Meary is technically the grown up Molly – who supposedly goes on to write books that will help fill the world with wisdom, rainbows, gluten free sprinkles and a shit tonne of humour. Well, that was the very loosey goosey plan I hoped to achieve.
So here is the truth behind Molly and her origin story. Enjoy.
“Well Molly Whuppie ye are a clever girl and ye’ve managed well. If ye could see what I have seen, ye will manage more and better.” Molly Whuppie by Joseph Jacobs
Mollie Whuppie and The Giant was one of my most treasured books and until very recently I was unaware of its origins. An English fairy tale set in Scotland which is fitting as my main character in Warders Cottage begins her journey in Orkney.
As a child, Mollie Whuppie was one of my favourite characters. She was strong, fearless, brave and had no time for dickery of any sort. Taking on an asshole giant and his asshole family with shit-all support from her sappy older sisters was next level for a little girl. She was my hero.
And even though the whole marrying everyone off before any of them probably had their period to boys who probably hadn’t gone through puberty is highly questionable trope – the message of the story is still stellar.
I had the weird 80s art deco version, which was both fascinating and trippy.
In researching for this book and searching for a significant element to tie the entire crux of the story together, it was Mollie Whuppie that found me once more, decades after falling in love with her the first time.
It was truly surreal to be looking through fairy tale books written around 1897 (when my historical fantasy is set) & randomly stumbling across the original version! The literary stars aligned! Writing woo-woo is totally a thing, especially in this case and the dates fit perfectly historically! Look out for her! She comes at a pivotal point in The Warder’s Cottage.
As the beautiful images of the brown haired, brown eyed girl rolled out onto the screen, I like countless others, fell in love.
It was like watching footage of my actual childhood in French! A surreal experience of memories long forgotten of silly games and boredom busters I would fill my time with on Henderson Street.
I too would draw funny faces on my hands, put raspberries and cheezels on my fingers and dominoes probably prevented me from completely losing my tiny mind! Definitely did the ear dangling cherry thing and a few other quirkies. Like colour co-coordinating my grandfathers casino chips along with the myriad bottles of booze. Did anyone actually drink that Vok shit? Especially like chook yolk yak one?
Most of all I related to Amelie as an observer, which as an only child is sometimes all you have to amuse yourself.
Fremantle was a hive of observation for a little girl no one paid much notice to, let alone suspected she was watching and listening to everyone and everything. I took the lot in like a sponge and very much like the French fictional character, invented my own stories and conclusions of the people I encountered.
Freo was much different then, very quiet and rather loathed. People didn’t really go there for something to do and it certainly was not a tourist must-do. Most came with a purpose and didn’t linger. The streets, especially on Sundays were like a ghost town and I remember it being rather dull, grey and everyone often seemed sombre, like they were trapped. So any abnormal sight or sounds were often magnified and if you were interesting enough, you found your way into a little Strawberry Shortcake notebook.
When the movie Annie came around, I like most little girls, was obsessed and besides the name, I resonated with Molly’s character as well as the actress playing her. She looked like me and for a little girl surrounded by Barbie girls and Holly Hobby look-a-likes – a sea of blond, red haired and freckly kids I looked nothing like – Molly was a breath of fresh olive air.
And even out on the playground when I was often cast as Pepper, or the other girl with the long black plaits – because of my height, it was always Molly I adored and related to.
Mischievous, cheeky, brave and always wanting to be carried.
Molly Jones was like a television angel who sadly is most famous for dying. Her final episode was a massive talking point in the early 80s and many years after – where she quietly passed away while watching her husband and sweet daughter Chloe, flying a kite in the beautiful backdrop of Wandin Valley. Half the nation fell into some kind of surreal mourning, the majority were women. My Nan and I were among them.
Frustratingly, it dulled the character who was probably not only the most important one in the show, but a favourite to a generation who found comfort and joy when they watched her. Initially known for being the ditzy country girl, she was full of random incite and enlightenment.
Vivacious, silly, joyful, kind. Such a strong court jester who shunned conformity in every way. I absolutely adored her and desperately wanted my parents to buy a farm by some sloping hills so I could chase around chickens in my hot pink wellies and over-sized Jenny Kee sloppy jumper.
Molly mimicked all the buzzwords of today. Authentic, organic, genuine, real. She truly was one of the original hipsters.
And while the little brown eyed, pig-tailed girl related to the Molly from Annie, the adult she became appreciates Molly Jones for what she truly represented. A strong, kind, independent woman unafraid of being herself.
If Molly Jones was a character written today, I imagine her being a grown up version of Dirt Girl. Ego-free and generating cool shit… literally. Showing there is a way to live a life that does not revolve every waking minute around serving self, or dragging others down.
These Mollies all may have been fictional – but they had a lovely influence on little me and helped shape the character of Molly from The Warder’s Cottage.
Excerpt from A Country Practice Website:
“Mad Molly Jones”
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we didn’t know
The kindness that was hers to spare
The joy that she took everywhere
We simply didn’t know.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t heard
How she could fight to save a flower,
And give each man and dog his hour
We simply hadn’t heard.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t seen
That she could make a dull day bright,
That she was colour, warmth, and light
We simply hadn’t seen.
Molly Jones, it’s over
Yet we cannot say goodbye
For all the loveliness we knew
And love of life and friendship true
And laughter brave once dwelt in you
And how can such things die?