Sandra Tayler is joining us today with her picture book project The Strength of Wild Horses, now on Kickstarter.
What’s Sandra’s favorite bit?
I didn’t intend to write a second picture book. I thought my daughter only needed one story. That was foolish because we all need hundreds of stories at various stages of our lives. The stories help us explain ourselves and show us how to go forward from where we are. It is why I wrote Hold on to Your Horses, and why my daughter immediately started asking the question to which Strength of Wild Horses is the answer. At six she didn’t have the ability to give nuance to her questions, but what she was asking was this: “What are wild idea horses good for? How can being head-strong and full of creative energy lead to anything but being endlessly in trouble?” I held her in my lap and gave her all the best answers I could think of, but I could tell she didn’t believe me. Not really. She could see how she got into trouble, she couldn’t see what I was trying to describe. She needed another story.
So I took Amy, a character who was already beloved, and I sent her on a new adventure. Or at least I wanted to, but sequels are tricky things. I thought I could use the same formula that worked so brilliantly in the first book. Lots of picture book series do that, because young children like the comfort of knowing that the main character will be embarrassed on page eight and will figure out the solution on page twenty-nine. So, I wrote the story using the first as a guide. It was flat and lifeless, because Amy had already had an adventure where Mommy was there for her to help with a pivotal realization. I had to set the story aside because I didn’t know how to write it yet.
Then came a fall afternoon when I’d wandered into my back garden to survey all the work that I needed to do to prepare for the coming cold. I wasn’t thinking about stories or Amy, or so I thought. Yet that was the moment when something inside my head shifted, and instead of not knowing how to proceed, I knew exactly where to go. What Amy needed was a moment like that one I had. A moment when her internal viewpoint shifted and problems became opportunities. So for Strength of Wild Horses I set up some glorious problems that Amy created for herself. Then Angela Call, the same artist who illustrated the first book so beautifully, created vibrant pictures that made Amy’s unintentional havoc clear for everyone to see. In the midst of the havoc there is a moment when even Amy becomes aghast at what she has done.
Consequences seem unavoidable and Amy can’t just keep going onward. In that low place Amy is finally quiet enough to observe that she is not the only one with struggles. The other characters in the book become clear to her in a way she did not see before. Then there is a moment of need, and in that moment, Amy changes.
All of her ideas become solutions instead of problems, even though they are exactly the same ideas that they were before. We get to see how elements of the glorious havoc are pulled into. That is my favorite bit of the story. Amy transforms problems into solutions and thanks to Angela it is done in a way that a six year old can see and comprehend. The only thing that could be more favorite than that, would be if somehow Strength of Wild Horses can be part of a change inside the mind of a child who reads it.
The Strength of Wild Horses Kickstarter project page:
Sandra’s previous My Favorite Bit post:
Sandra Tayler is a writer of children’s books, speculative fiction, and blog entries. She has sold stories to anthology markets and in 2009 her blog, onecobble.com, won an AML award for online writing. Sandra spends much of her time as the publication and distribution half of the Schlock Mercenary comic business. Sandra’s publication work and her writing are frequently pre-empted by the needs of her four kids, who alternate between being incredibly helpful and incredibly distracting. Some day in the future Sandra hopes to experience this free time that she has heard so much about.