Camille Matthews was born in Lexington, KY, an area considered by many the horse capital of the world. Matthews is a licensed clinical social worker and author of the Quincy the Horse Books for children ages K-4th. She notes that most children have empathy for animals and identify with Quincy and his adventures which involve every day challenges that children face such as loss and change, a family move, confronting a bully and sibling rivalry. In 2008 she had the idea for a series of children’s horse books inspired by real events in the life of one of her horses.
"I have fallen in love with this new series. The Quincy series will engage and encourage a love of reading and bring children up to the next reading level, bridging the gap between picture books and chapter books in an intelligent way." –Biblio Reads
Hello, Camille. This interview is part of a book tour hosted by Walker Author Tours. It’s so nice to have a bit of help with a book release. Please tell us about your children’s book, Quincy Moves to the Desert.
It is a story of self-discovery. Quincy and his best friend, Beau, go across the US from New York to New Mexico on a big horse van. Quincy has doubts about going on such a big trip but he is soon soaking up the sights. He is amazed to learn that “Horses are everywhere.” His friend Beau tells him about all the things horses do in different places and he imagines himself doing these things. He also misses their owner who has gone ahead and worries about whether she will really be there to meet them. It continues the themes of the feelings associated with change and the excitement about learning new things that are in each of Quincy’s adventures.
Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
The entire Quincy the Horse series was inspired by the real life experiences of one of my horses, an American Quarter Horse named Quincy. He had many adventures when he first came to live with us that parallel the everyday challenges that are faced by children. He was a young horse who was learning new things and his personality was as it is depicted in the Quincy books. I thought it would be a fun way to explore the uncertainties and joys children go through when learning new things and his real reactions inspired the decision to have him come out ok in the end no matter what the problem he needed to solve. I purchased him to be a companion to my older horse, Beaujolais and they turned out to be very good friends. I focused on their relationship as a source of continuity in the books of the series and to demonstrate to young readers the relationships animals are actually capable of having with each other. While some question the literary device of having them speak to each other, anyone who is around horses for long discovers they are great communicators!
This reminds me of Black Beauty. The author wrote the book from a horse’s viewpoint, also. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
I am an equestrian as is the illustrator, Michelle Black. We spend our daily lives caring for and interacting with horses. It was important to us to make the stories very authentic in portraying events that horses really go through, what horses think and feel, how they behave and the various daily routines and equipment that make up life in a horse barn. One reviewer complained that having Quincy left to be fed by a neighbor prior to his new owner coming to try him out in the first book was an unexplained abandonment. Actually this happens to horses frequently when a new owner becomes ill or moves. I knew that she had not had much contact with horses.
I am also a psychotherapist and I have knowledge of the emotions that children experience when they are facing change. Acceptance of their feelings along with continuity and support are crucial in helping them grow through change so I wanted to make this a theme in the series through Quincy’s relationships with his owner and his friend Beau. I was really excited when one reviewer said that she thought the stories work well for the older range of the children reading picture books because they have themes that are thought provoking.
What does your family think about your writing?
My family is extremely supportive of my writing. My daughter is grown up and happy that I have found something I enjoy at this stage of life. My husband sometimes wishes I did not have to be gone so much to promotional events. The horses wish I had more time to ride but that is always a challenge in today’s busy world.
Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
Those who know me will say that I tend to become single minded when I am working on a project. A current project of great interest to me is getting the family to eat organic food as much as possible. Over the last year I have found organic options for our human members by joining in a community supported farm and starting an organic garden of my own. I have discovered organic dog food for my Great Pyrenees, Jack and organic horse hay and grain from a local Amish farmer. What my family does not know yet is that I soon plan to start raising chickens so we can have our own eggs!
Wow! It seems that we're beginning to think more about living a healthier life now days. Being a farmer’s daughter, we raised our own chickens and gathering eggs wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Hahaha. Those were the good ole days! Thanks so much for this interview, Camille.