Many people hope their fantasies turn into reality. Alan Klapperich managed to turn reality into fantasy.
After his wife decided to enter her gluten-free cookie recipe into a medieval-themed local baking competition, the information-technology consultant and manager of the Gluten Intolerance Group’s East Central Wisconsin branch created a backstory for the cookie that has since grown into a fairy tale titled “The Gluten-Free Kingdom.”
In the seven-part series, which is being published in GIG’s Generation GF children’s magazine and at gluten.org, Sir Alcher is a valiant knight who begins to feel his strength declining. At the advice of his wife, Lady Pechal, Alcher seeks out Roderick the Wizard, who counsels the knight that gluten is the cause of his troubles. On the mend, Alcher accepts a mission to become a “gluten slayer” rather than a dragon slayer and to create a gluten-free kingdom.
“We named the cookie Chocolate Raspberry Gems of the Gluten-Free Kingdom,” recalls Klapperich. “The plan was simple: write a one- to two-page story for this cookie contest. What better story to tell than a real-life fairy tale loosely based our own lives? The story line was already ‘written’ because we’ve lived it.”
Klapperich submitted it to GIG, which published it in its kids’ magazine. After learning that the story received an enthusiastic reception, he was asked to write another chapter. “Because I had a rough outline of the story and enough time before the deadline, I agreed to finish it, chapter by chapter,” Klapperich says.
He says that most of the historical references in the storyline are based on fact. According to Klapperich he applied the same rule to the gluten-free information he presented: “Testing for gluten intolerance didn’t exist in the Middle Ages, but by applying a bit of creative license to the tests for dermatitis herpetiformis, I was able to create Roderick’s test for gluten intolerance.”
In writing the story, Klapperich wanted to give the readers a glimpse into what happens when people make the transition to a gluten-free diet. “We all struggled with the process, and some still struggle years down the road,” he says. “I wanted people to know that it’s OK to feel the way they are feeling. To acknowledge, respect and deal with the massive jumble of emotions—not to ignore or suppress them.”
Klapperich has received positive feedback and compliments from many quarters, including from adults, which he says surprises him considering that he targeted the story to children. He hopes to publish an expanded, illustrated version of his story that will reach a wider audience.