Monday, April 4, 2011

Interview with Author Ellen F. Feld

Award-winning author Ellen Feld began writing about horses more than twenty years ago. Her articles have appeared in 8 publications including Young Rider, Just About Horses, and The Appaloosa Journal. Ms. Feld's stories are noted for their realistic portrayal of horses, their behaviors, and the experiences of young riders. To attain this believability, Ms. Feld uses her horses as the basis for the animal characters within her books.

Hello Ellen. Welcome to my blog. This novel is for ages 9-12 and has won the Children's Choice Award. Please tell us about your new book.

“Frosty” is the second book in my ‘Morgan Horse’ series. In the first book, the protagonist, Heather, was very successful showing a Morgan named Blackjack. “Frosty” picks up with Heather going to an auction with a friend and falling in love with a gray Morgan. She is able to buy the horse and has visions of more blue ribbons with Frosty. But Frosty has other ideas and hates ring-work / showing. Heather is disappointed but doesn’t give up. Instead she takes up trail riding and discovers it’s a blast. A friend convinces Heather to take Frosty on a 3-day organized trail ride in Vermont. Heather is quite excited and the trail ride proves to be loads of fun. But on the morning of the second day, Heather and Frosty are up and exploring the camp area well before others have started to get ready. It’s very foggy out. As they explore, they stumble across a deer grazing in a nearby field. Heather gets carried away and asks Frosty to follow the deer. The horse and deer are soon racing through the woods. But once the deer disappears in the fog, Heather realizes that she and Frosty are lost…

Your book sounds like it has suspense. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

While my books are all fiction, much of each tale is based on experiences that I, or friends, have had with our horses. All the horses are based on real horses and in fact, my illustrator uses pictures of each when she’s working on the cover art.

In “Frosty,” Heather gets lost in the woods. Thankfully, that never happened to me but I did have a friend who once got lost. I asked her what happened and she told me, “Well, there was this deer…. and it was very foggy…” so I used that in my book. Also, Frosty gets bitten by a snake while in the woods. Again, it didn’t happen to any of my horses, but I have another friend who had a horse get bitten on the nose by a snake. She gave me every little detail of that experience and I took that information and wrapped it into the story. Finally, there’s a sub-plot in “Frosty” where Blackjack gets ill with all these really strange symptoms. The vet in the book is stumped. Well, the real Blackjack did get very sick (he’s fine now!) and the vet couldn’t figure it out. He had to call in a specialist. So I again used that in the book. I condensed the time – the whole event spanned over 6 months – and replaced technical jargon with much easier text that young readers would understand, but otherwise it was true to life. It turned into a nice little mystery plot. I’ve had numerous vets read the book because of the case – it was quite unusual.

Wow! You’ve certainly got my interest. I read Black Beauty as a young girl and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author wanted her readers to understand the importance of treating an animal right…to treat them with love and respect. Did you have anything in mind that you wanted your readers to learn as you wrote this book?

Yes, absolutely. There are so many horse books on the market today that anthropomorphize horses; stories where a young girl befriends a wild stallion and he helps her with some crises. Well, horses don’t do that! It really bothers me to have kids read that sort of story and think it’s real. So all my horse stories are true to life. I have a veterinarian consultant who fact checks all my stories. I’ve used trainers as consultants and I even have a medical doctor who checks my human action. Have you ever read a story/seen a movie where a character gets injured and is up and doing fine in the next scene when you know that’s just not possible? If a character falls off a horse and breaks her wrist, I don’t want her riding the next day. Of course, having said all this, the story must first and foremost be a lot of fun to read! Without a fun story, everything else is irrelevant.

I agree with you. What does your family think about your writing?

They’re used to it and don’t get terribly excited. I’ve been writing for horse magazines for about 30 years so my kids have grown up with a mother who has always written. They do, however, get excited when one of their horses is featured in a book.

It’s so nice getting to know you in this interview. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Um…. How about that I have an Amazon Gray (parrot) named Razzy who is terribly neurotic and has a nervous head twitch? But he talks up a storm and makes everybody laugh.

I love it. I wish I could listen to him talk. Thanks for your time, Ellen.

FREE shipping on any size order of books from the 'Morgan Horse' series when you order during this tour! Just enter code 1717 in the online order form or mail-in form


Jennifer R said...

I have always loved horses. I am glad that Ellen is writing books using true to life horse stories.
jryder416 at yahoo dot com

apple blossom said...

I have two nieces that love horses. I'd love to win this book for them. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Mona said...

I like that the book is true-to-life and would love to win this for my daughter and I to read together. She loves animals.

That being said, we also enjoy books/movies/TV shows where animals are portrayed as humans. For example:


Anonymous said...

How fun. I used to love horse books when I was growing up. I'll bet my daughter would love to read this too. Please put me in the drawing as well. Thanks! (and I'm midway through Anasazi Intrigue and loving it!)

anmlvrami at yahoo dot com

RivkaBelle said...

I love Morgans -- I think I fell in love with Morgan horses when I first read the Little House books, and met Almanzo & his Morgans. Then I read Marguerite Henry's "Justin Morgan had a Horse" ... Love 'em! :o)

This sounds great, as does the first one in the series. Realistic horse stories are always a good discovery!


Unknown said...

I too remember Black Beauty and what a wonderful story and I've always had a love and rescept for all animals. I still remember my first ride I had to be 5 yrs old and I had a horse that liked to stop and drink and let my Mom and Dad get ahead of me until I started crying to get everyones attention. lol But I'd love to pass this on to my niece. She's a few years away from the recommended age but I'd love to get the first one and start the collection if there are more to come. It will make a great gift. I'd so love to pass on my love for horses to a younger generation.

chirth7(at)yahoo dot com

Mozi Esme said...

My daughter is a horse lover...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I would love to win this! My kids enjoy horses and are part of the 4-H livestock program here in my county. Thanks for the chance!

Molly AT reviewsbymolly DOT com

Kat said...

My daughter loves horses and especially books about horses! I would love to win this book! Thanks!

katsaddress (at) gmail DOT com

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations, Jennifer Ryder, you're the winner of this wonderful book. I know you'll enjoy it. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Don't forget to check my blog every week for a new book giveaway.