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Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Christine Kendall

Publishers' Previews

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2016 Horn Book Magazine as part of Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a first book. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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In Christine Kendall’s Riding Chance, thirteen-year-old Troy, still “messed up” since his mother’s death, discovers unexpected purpose and connection working with horses.

Photo: Michael Grimm

Photo: Michael Grimm

1. Your descriptions of what it’s like to ride and bond with — not to mention smell! — a horse are so vivid. Are you a horse person yourself?

CK: I didn’t know very much about horses until I began researching the book. Reading, taking riding lessons, interviewing horse people, and watching polo matches all played parts in helping to bring the horses and Troy’s connection to them to life.

2. A huge setback in Troy’s emotional growth comes when he is accosted by police simply for being an African American male teen. How do you see your book engaging with the Black Lives Matter movement?

CK: Troy’s encounter with the police is a heartbreaking moment. I didn’t know aggressive policing would be a part of his story when I started the novel, but the memory of the humiliation of a young friend of mine at the hands of the police made its way into the story. Unfortunately, that experience rings true for many of our young men.

adpreview_kendall3. Even before he becomes part of its horse-riding community, Troy feels a rare sense of peace in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Where do you go to do your thinking?

CK: Long walks in nature are inspirational for me. Hikes in Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, New York, and on the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia helped me write the book.

4. What’s antagonist Jerome’s problem?

CK: What Jerome needs is love. His turbulent family life has made him insecure and hard.

5. You’ve been a semifinalist in the River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest. What has writing super-short fiction taught you about novel-writing?

CK: I didn’t start out to write a novel. It’s actually been a thrilling discovery to see that I can do it. I’d been studying picture books — another short form — where, as in micro-fiction, economy of words is key. When I wrote this novel I had more space in which to unfold the story, but the use of subtext and concision was still crucial.

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  1. I know this lovely Lady very well, she began writing at an early age.
    Much success as you continue your “WISHES”.

    Much love
    Auntie “Gert” Kendall/ Simmons

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