Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Writing Kid's Books: An Interview with Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Writing Kid's Books: An Interview with Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
by Gina McKnight

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is an award-winning children’s author with five books published; My Life at Sweetbrier (Monday Creek Publishing), Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.  Each book emphasizes powerful life lessons such as, friendship, setting goals, and helping others.

Deanie’s books have won several awards including, the Mom’s Choice Gold Medal, New Apple Solo Medal, among others. She has been interviewed on author websites and her books are now featured on Roku/FamilyCircleTV.  

Welcome, Deanie!

GM: Deanie, your horse history is amazing! Your father was a horse trainer, your mother a rider, too. When was your first encounter with a horse? 
DHD: I started riding ponies at about four years old. My parents owned a riding school called Sweetbrier. My first pony was a fuzzy brown little rascal named Little Man. He was a lazy fellow. In fact, he liked to lie down when I was on him. I used to think if I gave him sugar cubes first, he’d be in a happier frame of mind and that would help him behave. My tactic didn’t work, but eventually, I figured out how to keep him on his feet. 😊

GM: Congratulations on your award-winning books! What is the premise for your book My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses?
DHD: The premise of My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses is to never give up on your dreams because many things are possible if you persevere.

GM: What other books have you written?
DHD: My other book titles are, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. All of them are fictional stories told by the animal characters. My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, designed the covers and drew the illustrations for them.

GM: From your childhood/teen years, what horse-related moment stands out the most in your memory?
DHD: Hmm, that’s a difficult question because there were so many unforgettable moments at Sweetbrier. I think the most special day was meeting my horse, Fleet Nancy, AKA Peach, for the first time. My dad and I went to Portchester, N.Y. with our trailer to pick her up.  My biggest dream was to win in the most competitive shows in the northeast and I knew we’d need an amazing horse to accomplish that because of the handicap I have that affects my legs. My dad felt she was the perfect horse for me and his intuition didn’t disappoint.  She loved jumping and she showed style, class and courage constantly. Peach gave me the confidence I needed to make my dreams come true. I don’t think anything would have been the same without her.

GM: Your parents were devoted to their horses and they had passion for teaching others the joy of horsemanship. What was it like living at Sweetbrier, riding horses, and having a dad who was a horse trainer?
DHD: I loved growing up at Sweetbrier because it gave me the opportunity to ride every day and work toward my goal of becoming an equestrian champion. My dad and I had a special bond. In fact, if he was at a show with me, I wanted him to kiss me for luck before we entered the ring. If I couldn’t find him, I’d ask everyone if they’d seen him and postpone my turn to jump as long as possible. My dad was the one who coached me and encouraged me. When Peach and I practiced, my dad would have us jump courses higher than necessary so I’d be more relaxed during the competition.

Riding in the horse shows was one of my favorite things, but I loved teaching as well. It was rewarding to see our students progress and reach their goals. Many of our former students have mentioned how much they loved the horses and the whole experience of riding at Sweetbrier. They’ve said they’ll always treasure the memories.

Of course, growing up at Sweetbrier was not without setbacks and challenges. There were times when the barn workers wouldn’t show up so my sisters and I helped with mucking stalls and other chores. It seemed whenever my parents went on vacation, their motorhome would barely be at the end of the driveway and we’d have mass exit of the stable help. Still, I wouldn’t trade my childhood experience for anything. Along the way, we all learned responsibility, work ethic and to always present our best effort.

GM: As a writer, how do you maintain thoughts and ideas for story lines?
DHD: That’s another great question. When I get an idea, I write it in a notebook. When I have time, I start developing the idea into a story. Sometimes things that happen in real life give me ideas, too. For example, we got an older lawn tractor that was so cute and sturdy. I thought we could write a cute story about the little machine.

GM: What are you currently writing?
DHD: My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, is my illustrator. She and I are planning for the release of our first picture book, about the little tractor, Wilbur, I mentioned in the previous question. It’ll be our first picture book and the first one that doesn’t feature horses. The picture book about Wilbur, the tractor, will be out sometime this summer. We’re very excited about it and we hope young children enjoy the story.

GM: What are you currently reading? 
DHD: I’m reading a wonderful picture book by my author friend, Janice Spina. It’s called The First Star. I’m sure children will love it and enjoy the important message it conveys as well.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
DHD: In my view, there are many facets to horsemanship. It’s not only the art of horseback riding, but also the ability to develop a great relationship with your horse, like I had with my horse, Peach. She loved to please me and she understood when she’d done her best. If you learn how to care for your horse, it’s easier to nurture that special bond. If you compete in shows, you may also learn how to win and lose graciously, which is a valuable asset.

Connect with Deanie…


Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

Thank you so much for featuring my interview here. You asked great, thought-provoking questions.I certainly enjoyed responding to them.

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Gina. The questions were thoughtful and fun to answer. Wishing you continued success, as always.

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