My guest author today is another author with my publisher Fire and Ice. She writes a series of horse-related stories. I remember how much I loved Black Beauty as a child. I think I did a book report on it in 4th and 5th grade unbeknownst to my teachers. I was also a big fan of The Black Stallion. I haven't read a horse book since those years, but I know girls still love them. I think Patricia Gilkerson might have something very charming for middle school girls looking for a good read. She writes today about how her series of horse stories got published and what's coming up in the future.
My first experience writing a series was with my very first Young Adult novel, The Penny Pony, about two friends who rescue an abused horse. Previously, in shopping it around and collecting rejections, I cleverly (I thought) alluded to a series using U.S. coinage in the titles. I strongly felt that a series like that would work and be fun to write. A friend told me that publisher Melange Books’s YA division, Fire and Ice, was looking for horse stories, so I contacted them. Happily, they liked it and asked if I had more, to which I said enthusiastically, “No, but I can write them!” Two years later, I have three horse stories published as ebooks, The Penny Pony, Nickel-Bred, and Turn on a Dime, using the same two friends and having them rescue horses in dire straits. Fire and Ice put them together as a collection in print: The Horse Rescuers, Volume 1. My challenge now is to incorporate the two friends with more horse rescue situations, using quarter, half-dollar and dollar in the titles. I have no idea where I will go with these, which have to be appropriate to my 10-15 yr. old target audience, involving realistic situations for kids that age. A relative suggested having a horse rescue a human! I like that idea a lot--maybe for the final book. But what plots and what breed of horse to use? And, if things go well, will I want to expand into international money: euros, pesos, and loonies? One difficulty for me is to remember the voices of the repeating characters so that they stay true to themselves. Each book is stand-alone, so you don’t have to read the previous books to enjoy it. Therefore, I have to repeat a lot of background information in a way that doesn’t slow down the story.
My second experience with writing a series was a book intended to be a three-part fantasy series involving a teenage boy who is drawn into the Great Forest (a metaphor for Faerie) to rescue his father from a fatal illness. The second book would have him go back to rescue his mother, while the third would have him save Faerie itself from withering away. Each book would build on the last so that the final book was the climax to the whole series. However, when almost done with the last book, I began to feel that I should combine all three into one longer book. To do that, I had to remove a lot of repetition and have a story arc that tied it all together. A great example of how your plans can change as your intuition kicks in! That book will be released next spring as The Great Forest of Shee, also published by Fire and Ice YA.
Both of these experiences helped me to write better books and learn to trust my gut feelings—and that’s what steers your books in the right direction.
Interested in knowing more about Patricia Gilkerson and her work?
Buy her books:
Fire and Ice (publisher page)
The Horse Rescuers, Volume 1
Fire and Ice (publisher page)
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.