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Showing posts from October, 2012

Elaine Walker: Fact, Fiction and Reality - Writing What I Know

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Elaine Walker - Virtual writer-in-residence - October 2012
Elaine writes fiction and non-fiction about the horse. Her work has been featured at The Guardian Hay Festival and translated into several languages. Her book The Horses, mentioned in this piece, is an excellent post Apocalyptic story, in which a family who have been holidaying in remote Scotland find that everyone who lived in any community numbering more than a few is dead. The family are trying to survive on a Scottish farmstead, but life is desperately difficult, particularly when the family’s father dies. And then the horses come...

As well as lecturing in Creative Writing and English Literature, Elaine offers bespoke courses and mentoring in Creative Writing. Mention Jane Badger Books for a discount on courses and copies of Elaine's books - you can contact her via her website.

Writing Residency - week 4
For my final post, I'm going to talk about the way my connection with horses links to my academic and creative wri…

Review: Patricia Leitch - The Magic Pony

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Patricia Leitch: The Magic Pony
Catnip, 2012, £5.99


Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.


Patricia Leitch’s books are immensely satisfying; multi-layered: they succeed on so many levels. If you want to read The Magic Pony as a pony adventure in which a girl rescues a woman from dying somewhere she didn't want to; a mistreated pony from appalling conditions, and sees her own horse recover from a mystery foot injury, it works perfectly on that level. As a pony story, it is extraordinarily good, but it has much to say on ageing, and on death, and on how we perceive those around us.

The Magic Pony is the seventh in the Jinny series. Jinny is struggling with school (the intractability of algebra), and the utter frustration of a half term that has seen even she, normally uncaring about the weather, restricted to home in the face of the deluge that lasted until the last day of half term. And now the last day has come; it has dawned fine, but Jinny has to go to the d…

Review: K M Grant

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K M Grant: The Blood Red Horse
Puffin, £5.99
Kobo, Kindle, £4.99


K M Grant's website


Last year I went to a literary party (not something I generally do, opportunities being few and far between) but while I was there, someone told me that as I liked horses I must read book X by Y. Yes, I said, excited at the thought of a new author. I then promptly forgot the name of the book and the author, and who had told me about it.  This year, I went to the British Museum exhibition on The Horse, and the shop had a copy of K M Grant's Blood Red Horse. This, I am pretty certain, is X. Thank you, unknown person, for recommending it. For it is a cracker.



It is set at the time of the Crusades, but opens in England. Will and his elder brother Gavin are knights: at least Gavin is, and Will wants to be. He needs a horse though; a great horse, and he is to choose one from the many his father has bred. The horse Will chooses, Hosanna, is blood red, and he is small, not a thundering and majestic cre…

Getting that pony

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The Pony Book: How to Get that Pony, part one Coincidence
I never did get my own pony, but I wanted one. One of my nieces, when much younger, asked an aunt who had walked up through their garden at Christmas “Did you see a pony in the garden? Because I did ask for one.” Some years later, she did get a pony, but that year she had the empty feeling familiar to so many pony obsessed children: no pony had magically appeared in the garden, the garden shed, or the garage.  Father Christmas and parents remained deaf. 
She, like me, had to be content with reading about ponies: you might not have a pony of your own, but you could enter into the world of those who did. The books we read as children let us fulfil our dreams. I never could (and still can’t) talk to animals, but with Dr Dolittle and Narnia I was in worlds where I could. I enjoyed my school career as a state school child, but I still loved the midnight feast stuffed boarding school life of Malory Towers and St Clare’s. But more ma…

Review: Victoria Eveleigh - A Stallion Called Midnight

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Victoria Eveleigh:  A Stallion Called Midnight
Orion, 2012, £4.99
Kobo, Kindle, £2.99

Victoria Eveleigh's website

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book

This book has been re-written for its publication by Orion (it was first published as Midnight on Lundy). I liked the original very much, and the new one is even better. It is set on the island of Lundy, during the 1960s, when Lundy was a much more isolated community than it is now. The only way of getting to the mainland was via boat, and if the weather was too bad, you were stuck, as the homesick and wretched Jenny finds out when she is unable to get back for half term.


Jenny, the book’s heroine, has lived on Lundy all her life. It is a very small community, and Jenny is facing a huge change. She is to leave Lundy, and go to boarding school on the mainland. The only experience she has of school is lessons with Mrs Hamilton; the only other children she sees the day visitors who appear in holiday time. She is d…

Elaine Walker: Writing Horses 2

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Elaine Walker - Virtual writer-in-residence - October 2012
Elaine writes fiction and non-fiction about the horse. Her work has been featured at The Guardian Hay Festival and translated into several languages. Her book The Horses, mentioned in this piece, is an excellent post Apocalyptic story, in which a family who have been holidaying in remote Scotland find that everyone who lived in any community numbering more than a few is dead. The family are trying to survive on a Scottish farmstead, but life is desperately difficult, particularly when the family’s father dies. And then the horses come...

As well as lecturing in Creative Writing and English Literature, Elaine offers bespoke courses and mentoring in Creative Writing. Mention Jane Badger Books for a discount on courses and copies of Elaine's books - you can contact her via her website.



Writing residency - week 3
To follow on from my discussion of writing about horses last week, here are two poems inspired by my own horses. 

The fi…

Review: Sue Millard - One Fell Swoop

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Sue Millard:  One Fell Swoop
Jackdaw, paperback, £5.00
Jackdaw, ebook (Kindle) £3.00

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book

If you have ever had anything to do with native ponies, then buy this book. It is a joy from start to finish. The Fell Pony is not found as often as he should be in horsey literature, but this book of cartoons puts that right. It is devoted to the Fell Pony, pure and simple; its history, its character, its little ways.



I read this book with a smile on my face throughout. The cartoons are wonderful and I am struggling to pick out my favourites. The ponies with their tonsures (because Fells were owned by monasteries in the middle ages) are  marvellous,



and I love the pony peering over the boulder at the keen observer of wild ponies, as well as the Fell summing up its inept rider effortlessly, and acting as an impromptu pirate ship.....



The author’s knowledge, and affection for, the Fell Pony, shine through. This book is a gem. I love it.

Guest blogger: Jane Ayres

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My guest blogger today is author Jane Ayres. Jane had her first pony story published at the age of 14, and went on to write The Great Horse Rescue for the well receivedJ A Allen Junior Equestrian Fiction series. She is re-issuing her excellent Matty series as ebooks. All profits from the books are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary; they're all available from Amazon, and are £3.03 each.


Ponies, names, and happy endings by Jane Ayres

These days, I seem to forget so many things. The house is littered with post-it notes because if I don’t write it down, it will get forgotten.  So why is it that I can remember the names of most of the ponies I rode?   

When I was a child I avidly read every pony book I could lay my hands on.  My favourites were by the Pullein-Thompson sisters - Diana, Christine or Josephine, followed by the Jackie books, the Jill books, the silver Brumby series, stories about Misty and Stormy of Chincoteague, novels by Monica Dickens and Monica Edwards – the list is endle…

Elaine Walker: Writing Horses

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Elaine Walker - Virtual writer-in-residence - October 2012
Elaine writes fiction and non-fiction about the horse. Her work has been featured at The Guardian Hay Festival and translated into several languages. Her book The Horses, mentioned in this piece, is an excellent post Apocalyptic story, in which a family who have been holidaying in remote Scotland find that everyone who lived in any community numbering more than a few is dead. The family are trying to survive on a Scottish farmstead, but life is desperately difficult, particularly when the family’s father dies. And then the horses come...

As well as lecturing in Creative Writing and English Literature, Elaine offers bespoke courses and mentoring in Creative Writing. Mention Jane Badger Books for a discount on courses and copies of Elaine's books - you can contact her via her website.


Writing horses

Following on from last week, reading about horses can easily develop into writing about horses. If you're already a writer, you…

Help Redwings Horse Sanctuary!

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Author Jane Ayres, one of the contributors to the J A Allen Equestrian Fiction series, and writer of several pony series since, is re-issuing her Matty series in Kindle format. This is good news as it was previously available only in America, and the books are all fine reads. Not only that, all the profits from the books are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. All the books are available from Amazon, and they're £3.03 each.

Jane will be doing some guest posts on this blog soon, so keep an eye open for those.


The Pony Book - a history from 1920-2010