Today, I’m here to tell you about a cool little book that features the D. A. Night Avenger. D.A. stands for “Dark Ass”, and that’s because the Night Avenger is a donkey that flies around helping other donkeys in distress.
“I invite you to join me on an adventure to space, nearby farms and imagination itself.”
Jane Wilson, one of our Doodlewash members, illustrated the book and it was written by Eleora Wilson, her granddaughter. The book is pure fiction, but it was inspired by donkeys who live near Jane, at the Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW. The plight of many donkeys is a sad one, but this book has an upbeat tone, raising awareness, yet still managing to leave you with a smile. It’s suitable for children and any adult that loves the idea of a superhero donkey.
The book is 8.5 x 11 inch, beautifully illustrated, with 24 pages printed on high quality paper.
I thought you might like to hear more about what inspired this granddaughter/grandmother collaboration and how they got their ideas, so I’ve asked the duo a few questions.
How did the two of you come up with the idea of writing the book?
Jane: This journey started with a painting of Mindy loosely based on her last physical and she was so happy. I thought she looked like a super hero.
Eleora: My dad was making jokes about us writing a book about a superhero Donkey after grandma initially painted Mindy the donkey as a superhero. Then grandma told the people at Oregon Donkey sanctuary and friend of hers about it, and basically family and friends, along with the donkey rescue, thought that writing the book was a great idea. About a week after my dad made the joke, grandma calls me and we discussed the idea of me writing the story of D.A Night Avenger and grandma illustrating it with her watercolor paintings. After deciding to write D.A I began to create the story and form the character of Dark Ass Night Avenger while grandma went through photos to use for reference for both the story and illustrations.
How did you come up with the title?
Jane: Mindy was a lavender gray donkey with an all-dark face. Rhonda said this kind is called a smuggler’s donkey because they don’t have white on their face to draw attention. Rhonda and her husband Jim own the Sanctuary, so I guess that makes them Chief Ass Wranglers. They are wonderful loving people who provide the best lives possible for the donkeys that are fortunate enough to come into their care. They are able to do this with the help of local volunteers and donations from other people who love donkeys.
My son saw the sketch and said I should call her Dark Ass, I think Eleora came up with the Night Avenger and a short story with a lot of little paintings was started. I should mention that all of my family are into graphic novels , comics and such.
Eleora: My grandma the illustrator painted Mindy the donkey as a superhero and my dad made jokes about Dark Ass Night Avenger, the donkey superhero. For a short time, I wondered if the title needed to be Dark Ass Night Avenger and the something but nothing fit after Dark Ass Night Avenger. I quickly realized that the initial title Dark Ass Night Avenger was the right title.
I vacillated back in fourth between whether the title on the front cover would be D.A Night Avenger or Dark Ass Night Avenger because Dark Ass goes by D.A. Ultimately D.A Night Avenger went onto the title page and Dark Ass Night Avenger went on the inside title page formalizing the title.
How did you come up with the story?
Jane: I sent photos of Eleora from when we had the fire evacuation in 2020 and the rescue became the home of so many critters for a while. Eleora strung them together to make DA’s story. rather like an impromptu comedy bit.
Eleora: For the basic story line of Dark Night Avenger I strung together photographs of the donkeys and other animals that were living at the donkey rescue in 2020, then began to exaggerate upon the images and add actions and personality traits to the characters to fill out the storyline. For example I had access to a picture of a turkey who lived at the rescue in 2020 that was displaced by a fire but I decided that the turkey was going to escape through the fence. The best trick I found for building the characters was to try to and imagine what a donkey, or an alpaca, or any of the many animals in story might think about, and how the animals might see the world.
Why did you choose Mindy as the main character?
Jane: Mindy was unlike any donkey at the rescue. Im not sure she thought she was one. She treated the other donkeys like her much beloved pets.
Eleora: For me, Mindy being the main character came into the picture after grandma painted her as a superhero for the very first time. I was astonished by Mindy’s age and the way she took care of the other donkey’s, not unlike the way D.A takes care of the starving donkeys on nearby farms. Her care for others caused me to have no doubt that Mindy would be the perfect main character for Dark Ass Night Avenger.
Why a goat for the secondary character?
Jane: Mindy loved goats through having spent much of her first 40 years with a herd of goats. Eleora and I didn’t know that when Eleora came up with the idea of Lawnmower for Mindys sidekick. It just seemed right.
Rhythm, a goat from a local rescuers herd, was the inspiration for the goat art. After Eleora wrote Lawnmower’s part I had a picture in my mind of what it needed to look like. Rhythm fit the bill.
Eleora: A goat was displaced by the fires in 2020, and that goat lived at the rescue for awhile. Grandma sent me a photograph and I thought that a goat would a perfect sidekick for D.A.
I took community Jazzercise classes with a couple of friends who had goats on their properties. Along with being beloved pets, the goats would graze in their pastures causing the grass they grazed on to remain short like it had been cut by a lawnmower. That effect inspired the name lawnmower.
What is your involvement with the Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW?
Jane: I’m simply a neighbor that fell in love with the donkeys and wanted to help. At first I just wanted to take pictures and do a couple of paintings. That saying about loving what you do kicked in, and the more I painted the donkeys, the more I came to love them.
In the midst of the fire evacuation, the Sanctuary had the first print sale from the paintings I’d done up to that point. Naturally I pulled my Granddaughters into this love.
Eleora: Grandma became involved with the donkey rescue then she took my sister and I to visit the rescues. I got to meet all the donkeys and pet them. It was a wonderful chance to learn more about donkeys and experience what amazing creatures they are.
Much of my involvement with the rescue has come from writing D.A Night Avenger to raise funds for the rescue. I visited the rescue today and got to meet the many new donkeys that had been rescues, hear there stories and best of all get in the corral with them and spend time with these loving creatures and experience each of their unique personalities.
Does the Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW benefit from these books?
Jane: These stories are all written as a gift to the sanctuary rescue to use as is the art. I’ll show the original work for three months this year at the White Rabbit in Aurora, where they give me wall space.
The rescue has the rights to order as many books as they desire to make 100% profits above what Shutterfly charges. Hence shopping their sales. Sadly its still cheaper than having the local printers print them and the product is very nice.
I gave them the first 10 copies, and we will do the same with the next two books .
It’s all about raising awareness about donkeys and the fact that they are often not treated well at all. Book three will touch on the skin business which has horrible consequences.
The books they get from Shutterfly will clear the cost twice with key stoning and in a fundraiser they could do more. I donate prints every season from that year’s paintings and we start off with 3-4 of each. Two and half to three dozen paintings usually go into second and third printings. They make a great fundraiser.
The forward of the book was written by Rhonda, for the purpose of generating interest in the Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW.
Eleora: Along with the fundraising aspect, Dark Ass Night Avenger also benefits the rescue by raising awareness of the rescue’s existence and the problem of Donkey neglect. The more people who are aware, the more we can all do to protect donkeys from neglect.
Will you be writing more of these stories?
Jane: The next story The prequel: The Rise of Dark Ass Night Avenger, is being written story first, finding references, and painting art next, as will the sequel, Dark Ass, The End is Just The Beginning will be.
And now there’s the potential of a spin-off from Super Chug and the Flying Ass Security!
Eleora: Yes, I am currently working on writing the prequel Rise of D.A which will explain how D.A. became D.A., and then I will write a sequel Dark Ass the End is just the beginning.
Thank you to both Jane and Eleora for giving us a behind the scenes look at their book!
The Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW is a registered 501(c)(3) charity. Located in Oregon City, the Sanctuary describes itself as “A facility to educate, inspire and hopefully heal both donkeys and people.” You can find out more about the Oregon Donkey Sanctuary NW story here.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in