Sunday, May 11, 2014

Author Interview with Mom's Choice Award-winning author Camille Matthews

Tell us a little about you: I live in Reading PA along with the real Quincy. I am a clinical social worker and equine assisted growth and learning specialist. The real Quincy, who inspired the Quincy the Horse books when he was 7 is now 24 years old. He is an American quarter horse who was a trail riding horse for many years and is a mainstay of my equine therapy program.

Tell us about your book: It is called Quincy and Buck. It is the third book in the Quincy the Horse series. In this book I tackle the problems of overcoming fear and dealing with a bully. Quincy dreams of trail riding in the desert near his home but he is afraid of meeting wild animals out on the trail. His friend, Beau, an old horse who has done everything, explains to him that he will never become brave if he stays home, so he goes on his first trail ride. He hopes to find a trail buddy who will guide him but the horse he chooses turns out to be a bully. Over the course of the ride, he discovers that he is more confident than he imagined and that Buck is afraid underneath his façade of strength. The story of the day’s ride along with the illustrations takes kids into the desert of the Southwest which has breathtaking scenery. 

How did you find your publisher? I decided to self-publish the Quincy the Horse series. I did this initially because I wanted to have control over the entire project including the illustrations which were a very important part of the vision that I had for the books.
What do you like about them?  What I have liked about self-publishing is the chance to have so much input into the creation of each book. The illustrator Michelle Black was actually the one who encouraged me to do it and we have had a close collaboration on all the aspects of the process.

Do you have any advice for writers looking to get their first works published? Since I have not worked with a traditional publisher, I cannot compare. Self-publishing requires a huge commitment of energy. Over the 6 years that I have been doing this I have seen a huge change in how small independent publishers are accepted and there are many more resources for reviews and coop marketing.  However the vertical integration of publishing, sales and distribution makes it very hard for the independent on the business side of the equation.

What is your favorite type of book to read and why? I love British mysteries. I suppose I love the puzzle and suspense but it is also fun when there are ongoing characters to follow. I recently reread the entire series of mysteries written by PD James.

When did you first start writing? I have always loved writing and keeping a journal but writing a set of children’s books is an entirely new venture which I started about 6 years ago

What inspired you to start writing? The year before I wrote the first of the Quincy Books I participated in a training to learn how to do Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. EAP works because the client observes, interacts and empathizes with the horse/s. In the midst of the training program I had the idea of creating a series of books for children about Quincy’s adventures because the things he experienced were things that children also face. I thought they would be able to identify with Quincy and therefore learn more about the world of relationships and their own feelings and problems.

Have you ever gotten writers block or gotten stuck while writing?  Yes.

Do you have any tips for overcoming this? I try not to force it but just get involved in other activities until I reconnect with my writing voice. One activity that helps is cleaning the stalls in my barn. If it works and I reconnect, I try to sit and write things down asap.

How did you come up with the title and the story idea of your book? The events recounted in Quincy and Buck really happened and I always thought about using them for one Quincy’s adventures. Originally I was focused on the problem of Quincy’s fears and doubts which is a theme throughout the series. In the midst of writing the story I saw more ways to highlight Buck as a character and explore the theme of bullying and the fact that bullies are afraid underneath their façade of strength. I thought the title would illustrate that the book was about their relationship rather than just a story about Quincy.

What was your favorite part to write and why? I loved writing about the desert and the beginning of the trail ride. I am really happy with the way the description of Quincy’s actual experience of walking in the sand wash and his tripping on the rocks brings the trail ride alive for the reader. It also puts me back there and brings back happy memories as that was one of my favorite trails in New Mexico.

Describe your favorite writing spot. I had a study in my home in New Mexico with a picture window that looked out into the yard and the pasture where the horses were. I had my computer and also an old photo printer. As Michelle Black would send me photos of the paintings, I would print them out and then cut and tape them together with the printed text to make a mock up of the finished book.

What made you decide to write young/middle grade/YA readers? Having illustrations that were beautiful paintings of the horses was a crucial part of my vision for the series so that led to children’s picture books rather than chapter books.

Are you a re-reader or do you normally just read a book one time through? My old favorites are definitely re-read.

Besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies? I love to garden and have spent the last few years building an extensive organic garden and chicken keeping area on my farm. I also love photography.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Write about what you know and love and write down everything.

What would be one thing you would be lost without? My animals and the joy and structure of my daily life with them.

Describe your idea of 'the best day ever: It would  be a fall day with cooler temps and I would harvest vegetables in the morning, do some cooking and then ride. I would have everything on my to do list caught up of course.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? I hope they enjoy Quincy and Buck. It may be my favorite Quincy book and I am excited to share it. I also hope that parents find that this book is a good way to start a conversation about fears, bullies and problems and a chance to reinforce that asking for help is always ok.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books? Our website is and my blog is I can be reached directly through the contact form on our website if anyone has specific questions or requests. We also have a great Facebook community at Quincy’s previous adventures are Quincy Finds A New Home and Quincy Moves to the Desert.

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