Category Archives: Horses

Exciting news for Pony-Mad Princess fans

book coverI love getting letters and emails from fans of my Pony-Mad Princess series, and many of them ask when I’m going to write another book. Until recently, I’ve said that the series was finished. I’d run out of ideas so there weren’t going to be any more Princess Ellie stories. But I was wrong. There’s now another book on the way – Princess Ellie’s Perfect Plan comes out in the UK in July.

The first Pony-Mad Princess books were published in 2004 so 2014 is a very special year for Princess Ellie. To mark her 10th Anniversary, Usborne are re-issuing all twelve books in the series with new covers and extra pages at the end that we’ve filled with quiz questions and pony facts. They also persuaded me to write a brand new story – a special Anniversary book will be published in the UK in July.

As soon as they explained what they were doing, I was keen to write the book. The only problem was deciding what it should be about. I’d used so many ideas that it was difficult to think of something completely fresh and different. I had long conversations on the phone with my collaborator, Anne Finnis, who came up with the original idea for the series. We thought about having an anniversary celebration in the book, but I’d already done that in A Surprise for Princess Ellie. Then we thought about having a royal baby, but it was difficult to work the ponies into the story and Will and Kate got in first by producing their own royal baby.

Finally, we decided to give Ellie a real problem to solve. The first book in the series brought Ellie and Kate together. Maybe this one should threaten to pull them apart. Desperate not to lose her best friend, Ellie would need to find a perfect plan to stop that happening.

You can tell from the title that this is the storyline we chose to develop. But I’m not going to tell you what happens. You’ll have to wait until the book comes out. If you want to be one of the first people to read Princess Ellie’s Perfect Plan, you can pre-order it from Amazon now.

 

 

The pain of wanting a pony

When I was a child, I wanted a pony so much that it hurt. I was nine before I learned to ride and my one hour a week on the back of a horse was the high spot of my life. Between times, I devoured pony books and, completely ignoring my mum’s rules, I sat astride the back of the settee and imagined my own pony adventures.

The desire for a pony of my own started as soon as I started riding and was fuelled by the stories I read. The few main characters who didn’t have a pony at the beginning of the story always had one by the end. But they lived in a world surrounded by fields, where there was always a convenient orchard in which to keep the object of their desire.

We, on the other hand, lived in suburbia: row upon row of similar houses with neat front gardens and not an orchard in site. A pony was unrealisable dream, but that didn’t stop me pestering my parents for one. I even entered a competition to win a saddle in the hopes that, if I won it, they would feel duty bound to buy a pony to go under it.

Eventually my parents compromised. They would let me have a pony if I saved up enough to buy one. I suspect they thought that would let them off the hook, but they hadn’t allowed for my determination. I went without sweets and presents for a long, long time and the money I received instead gradually accumulated until finally there was enough to buy a very cheap pony.

I never got it. By the time I hit my target, my dad had developed terminal cancer and my mum faced a future bringing me up on a widow’s pension that definitely wouldn’t feed a horse as well as a growing daughter. Although I finally got a horse of my own when I grew up, childhood remained a time of dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams.

Maybe the pain of wanting a pony was a subconscious reason for my current choice of career. After all, in Jill’s Gymkhana, it is her mother’s success at writing children’s books that finally solves the money problems associated with keeping Prince.  But whatever the reason, now I write pony books myself, I am always aware that, for the majority of my readers, pony ownership is out of the question and even riding lessons may be an impossible dream.

Two horse books that changed my life

After creating 20 novels for 7-9 year olds, I fancied the challenge of writing a horse book for older readers. But it wasn’t that book that changed my life – it was the books I encountered while I was working on it.

Before I could start writing, I needed a plot – something with wider appeal than another  “they all won red rosettes” title – so I decided to investigate the world of horse whispering. The obvious starting point was Monty Roberts so I read The Man Who Listens to Horses and a couple of his other books. Then I delved into Amazon’s “people who bought this also bought that” feature to help me decide what to try next.

Soon I had an eclectic mix of books about horses and horse training on my shelves. They all proved useful to some degree, but two of them had more effect than I had ever expected. Continue reading