Parents Help Fulfill Late Daughter's Dream of Being Author and Publish Her Stories

Vail wrote the stories when she was in first grade.
Family Handout

Susan Chance said her daughter Vail Johnson started writing stories in the first grade.

Vail Johnson, 9, had always wanted to write and dreamed of becoming an author. Three years after her death, her mom finally made that dream come true.

Susan Chance said her daughter started writing stories in the first grade after being encouraged by her teacher. 

“She wrote 90% of her stories in the first grade,” Chance told 

On the day before her death in 2016, her mother said she and Vail were walking together, and she told her mom that she’d love to publish her children’s stories one day.

“I told her, 'Show me which ones and we will make it happen,'” Chance said. 

That night, Vail died in her sleep due to a rare virus, myocarditis, which attacks the heart. She hadn’t shown symptoms and her passing left the family shocked. 

“That night she went to bed healthy, normal,” Chance said. “We functioned on shock for quite some time. It was unbelievable.”

For Vail’s funeral, her teachers who had helped her with her writing thought it would be a good idea to have her best friends read some of her stories so they made a booklet.

They also suggested a hardback cover that people could buy, but because she was only 6 when Vail wrote the stories, there were some misspellings. 

“We wanted to find an author to rewrite them so you can read them to kids,” Chance said. 

The family got into contact with children’s author Ed Payne, who rewrote the stories and created the book called “Vail’s Tales.” Vail’s original stories are also in the book.

One of the stories included in the book was written the week she died. 

“It’s been quite overwhelming,” Chance said. “It’s been a dream. We love her because she was ours, but we knew she was special. Everyone who didn’t know her is getting to know her through this book.”