Welcome back, Miralee. How did this book come about?
A few years ago I attended a writers’ conference and met Alice Crider, an editor at a major publishing house. She asked what I wrote, and I told her my newest book, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California, had released earlier that year. She said she’d spotted it in the conference bookstore and planned to buy a copy, as the cover intrigued her. As we chatted, I discovered we shared a love of horses and riding, and I felt as though I’d found a new friend.
Sometime after the conference, I received an email from
Alice saying she’d read my
book and loved it. She suggested I consider writing a series of horse novels
for girls, as so many young girls have always dreamed of owning a horse. I
thanked her and said I’d think about it but tucked it back on a mental shelf. I
had already made a change from writing women’s contemporary fiction to
historical romance and wasn’t sure my career would be improved by adding
Several months later, during a Wednesday-night service at church, our pastor challenged us to pray about the direction our lives were headed and to ask God if there was anything He wanted us to change. I did, and I was surprised at the answer. I felt strongly that He was directing me to write the girls’ horse novels
Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
I had a clear picture of the covers for all four of the books in this series, and I knew the first one had to include Kate and her best friend Tori, along with a horse. Since horses and friendship are a part of each story, it was important to me that both be depicted on every cover. I’ve been extremely pleased with how the graphic designer has brought each of my concepts to life with the gorgeous covers he’s created. Book two and three are even better, and I can’t wait to share them as well.
I want to feature all of them on my blog. Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
Most of the book is fiction, other than the setting and the horse details. I’ve ridden for over 40 years and raised a horse-crazy daughter who took lessons growing up, so I’m very familiar with the equine world. I wove as much horse adventure into the book as I could, and placed the story in
Odell, Oregon, a farming
and orchard community across the Columbia River from my home, and nestled at
the base of . Mt. Hood
How much research did you have to do for this book?
Not much. Because I live near Odell, and my daughter took lessons at a large barn in that area, I had a clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to depict. I’m also very familiar with both Western and English riding, so there was little research required. The only area I researched was the subject of autism. I’ve been around a number of autistic adults and children at church, as well as children of friends, but I went a little deeper by asking questions of a woman I know who is helping to raise her autistic grandson—a boy the same age as Pete—the autistic child in my story.
What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
Two things: I hadn’t planned much for Pete, Kate’s autistic little brother—he was going to be more of a background figure when I started, but he evolved into much more than that. I’ve had two advance readers already state he’s their favorite character, although I never intended to have him in the spotlight. The other factor was the friendship that developed between the three main kids, Kate, Tori, and Colt, who are very different in their own way. I’ve gotten to know and love these kids, and I didn’t expect to make such an emotional connection with them.
I love it when that happens with my characters. What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
My readers for this book are children ages 8-13, a bit different from the norm for my work. I’d have to say I hope they attain a better understanding of friendship and forgiveness, as well as gaining the ability to see handicaps and disappointments in a new light.
What is the next project you’re working on?
It’s actually book three and four in this series, Mystery Rider and Blue Ribbon Trail Ride. I just finished proofreading book two, Silver Spurs, which releases in three short months on June 1, and today I’m starting copy edits for book three, Mystery Rider, and in a few days, I’ll be working on the full edit for book four, Blue Ribbon Trail Ride. Then I plan to return to historical romance with a novella currently under contract with Barbour … beyond that, another three-book trade series set in the Old West.
What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
Something that ties in quite well with the story line in this series—I go horseback riding with my daughter. I lost my Arabian mare a little over a year ago to old age, but I ride my son-in-law’s mare now, and my daughter and I enjoy many wonderful hours on the trails, spring through fall.
Please give us the first page of the book.
This was the absolute worst day of Kate Ferris’s life. Ever. She hunkered deeper into the back seat of her family’s Subaru Outback and glared out the window at the passing scenery. Why did God allow her dad to lose his job in
And, even more important, why hadn’t He answered her prayer about staying in the
only home she’d known all her life? She dreaded trying to make new friends in
this strange place. Staying at home with her dog and her family was so much
Her seven-year-old brother sat up and thumped on the window. “Horses, Kate. Look.” The words were flat and expressionless, but Peter emphasized each one with another tap on the window.
Kate removed her ear buds and peered where he pointed. “Cool.” A pasture extended from the two-lane road and off toward the looming snow-capped
. “How many do you see?” Mt. Hood
“Eleven.” He pressed his nose tight against the glass. “Four more. Look.”
Kate grinned, amazed once again at his ability with numbers. His autism kept him from communicating in other ways, but ask how many of something he saw and he got it right every time. “What colors are they?”
Peter hunched down deeper, and the humming started again.
Kate’s mother draped her arm across the edge of the front seat and glanced back. “How
many brown ones, Pete?”
“Six.” He kept his face toward the road and gently rocked in time to the tune.
Dad smiled at Kate’s mom. “Don’t worry,
He’s going to be happier once he’s out in the country. It’ll be so much better
than being cooped up in that apartment.”
Kate reached over the back seat and stroked the coat of their German shepherd. The dog licked her hand as though sensing her distress. “Rufus will be happy too.” Everyone will be happy but me. “It feels like we’ve been in this car for days.”
Her dad laughed. “It’s only been six hours since we left, Kate. We’ll be home in another five minutes.”
I’m loving this story, Miralee. I want to feature all four in the series. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m always expanding my website, and I’d love to have new subscribers. They can sign up for my newsletter as well. www.miraleeferrell.com
I can also be found on my Fan Group at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/82316202888/
And follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/miraleeferrell
Thank you, Miralee, for sharing this new book with us. I'm eager to start reading it when my copy arrives.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.A Horse for Kate - Christianbook.com
A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends) - Amazon
A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends Book 1) - Kindle
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