Nov 17, 2010

Author Interview: Alison Hart

Today I'm talking to Alison Hart, author of over twenty mysteries and historical novels for children and young adults. The horsey set knows her best as the writer of the acclaimed Shadow Horse and its recent sequel, Whirlwind. Fans of the Thoroughbred series know her as Alice Leonhardt, who penned various volumes during the New Generation including Racing Image, The Bad Luck Filly, Living Legend, and more.

What inspired you to write Shadow Horse?

I am a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) who works with the court system to advocate for abused and neglected children. The pairing of foster teen with a rescue farm seemed like a great story; the insurance scam came after I did research.

What sort of research did you do for Shadow Horse and Whirlwind

I interviewed a social worker, a probation officer, an insurance agent and a police officer, and visited juvenile court and a rescue farm. I did extensive reading as well.

There was quite a wait for Whirlwind. What went into making the book finally happen?

I honestly don't know what took so long. I was busy writing historical fiction that was doing well for a different publisher. Sales for Shadow Horse were steady but not phenomenal, and in today's market/economy, sales must be phenomenal for a publishing house to request a sequel.

You wrote several books for the Thoroughbred series during its “New Generation.” Which character did you most enjoy writing? 

I pretty much created Melanie and Image, so they are the ones I most identify with.

What draws you to writing about horses, particularly for children and young adults?

Horses have been in my life since I was five years old, but horses and humans have been intertwined since as early as 3500 BC when horses were raised for milk and meat in Kazakhstan. (see the fascinating March 2009 article in National Geographic)

Since then, horses have been used (and exploited) by humans in all parts of the world. In America, horses became extinct about 10,000 years ago and were then reintroduced by 16th century Spanish Explorers. That gives me centuries of history to write about. My current books focus on the 1800’s when horses were used for transportation, farming, racing and war --see my historical suspense Gabriel's Horses, Gabriel's Triumph and Gabriel's Journey, Emma's River and Anna's Blizzard--as well as modern-day novels like Taking the Reins, Shadow Horse and Whirlwind.

Do you have any upcoming horse books or other writing projects on the horizon? (Possibly a sequel to Whirlwind, perhaps?) 

I'd love to do a sequel to Whirlwind, and have an idea plus a possible title, but again, the sales of Whirlwind have to be phenomenal for Random House to even consider it. In 2011, Risky Chance, book seven in the Horse Diary series, will be published. It's about horse racing during the 1930's. I also have a second American Girl book called Dive Right In, part of their InnerStar U series, which allows readers to choose their own endings. It's not about horses but still fun!


My thanks to Alison for taking the time to answer a few questions!

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