Vail Johnson loved many things — softball, horses, and, of course, her family. But nothing made her more excited than putting words on paper.
The 9-year-old from Pilot Point, Texas, developed a knack for telling stories after she began writing in first grade. In August 2016, she even told her mom, Susan Chance, that she wanted to be an author. Tragically, she never got the opportunity to do so.
That same night, Vail unexpectedly passed away from a rare form of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Her family was devastated, but they found some comfort whenever they read her stories.
Susan and Chad, Vail’s stepfather, were inspired by the insight she displayed at such a young age and decided to fulfill her last wish by sharing her talent with the world.
Thankfully, they found the perfect person to turn Vail’s stories into verse: award-winning journalist and children’s author Ed Payne. With the help of illustrator Britt Sekulic, they created “Vail’s Tales.”
The children’s book was published in 2019 and features four of Vail’s stories. Each one was rewritten by Ed and illustrated by Britt with Vail’s original drafts, artwork, and even handwriting nearby.
Impressively enough, Vail wrote three of the stories when she was just 6 years old and created the fourth the week she died.
“On August 30, 2016, the day before Vail passed away, she said that she wanted to be an author when she grew up,” Susan said. “Sweet girl, you already were an author, but now the world can read your stories.”
While Vail never saw her ideas published, people from all over can learn from her ideas about friendship, nature, and so much more.
Her life was too short, but that didn’t keep her from doing what she loved and changing countless lives. Rest in peace, Vail the author.
Listen as Susan reads one of her daughter’s stories in the video below, and share this article so the world will never forget this beautiful soul.
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