reviewed Emily Edwards' children's book, The Trouble with Being a Horse, yesterday, and today I'm delighted to welcome her to my blog. Her horse story is an enjoyable tale of a young girl learning that communication is definitely more than words, plus a fascinating insight into the world of horses--more than a story, and more than a moral tale, it's a children's novel with real character and real character development. So, over to Emily...
Topic: character developmentWhen I first came up with the idea for “The Trouble with Being a Horse,” I had thought it would be a light-hearted, adventurous tale of a girl’s exciting exploits in a horse’s body. It wasn’t until I sat down to actually write it that the character of Olivia began to develop into a troubled girl with far deeper issues than winning horse shows and showing off to friends. As I began to plot out what would happen, I realized that the story wouldn’t work if it was just an adventure story full of horse details and if Olivia wasn’t a character of substance. I wanted the book to resonate with its readers on several levels, not purely on the entertainment level.
Olivia’s desire to become a horse, which triggers the main action of the book, is partly caused by her life circumstances of being poor, not having any friends, and being ignored and misunderstood by her family, which in turn create her general feeling of unhappiness. She naïvely believes that being someone else—even a horse—would be better than her current situation in the world, and when she unwittingly makes a wish to become a horse she doesn’t really think it would happen. Olivia is so used to things not working out for her that even her wishes are half-hearted. What she doesn’t realize at the beginning of the book is that she has the ability to make her life better, but it is only when she becomes a horse and she tries to take responsibility for herself and actively make decisions that things start to turn around for Olivia.
Throughout the book, Olivia is a reluctant heroine. She wants her life to be better but is hesitant to take steps to improve it. She doesn’t know how to make decisions and is caught in a situation that constantly forces her to make them. She makes a lot of bad choices, but it’s through this process that she grows and learns to appreciate the life she had as a girl. Olivia is far from a character to be idolized, but I hope that if readers take anything from the story it’s a message of taking responsibility for oneself and that life is a process of trial and error and mistakes are just life experience. And that for some reason, horses help us to realize things about ourselves faster than we might on our own!
Emily Edwards is from the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and has a PhD from Trinity College Dublin from the Centre for Gender & Women's Studies. She has wide-ranging writing experience and currently works as a Research Associate. The Trouble with Being a Horse is Emily's first work of fiction, and is published by Single Stride Publishing. She has been an avid equestrienne for over twenty years, participating in Pony Club and the Trinity College Dublin Equestrian Team.