Girls Horse Club Blog

INTERACTIVE VIEW: Shelley Peterson

Published by • Aug 18th, 2007 • Category: Books & Writing, Interactive View

Welcome to the INTERACTIVE VIEW, an interview where *YOU* ask the questions. We’re thrilled to showcase another talented horse girl and author, Shelley Peterson, who will respond to your questions from now until Friday August 24th.

Please read the INTRO and INSTRUCTIONS below to get started!

Shelly.gifINTRO: Canadian author SHELLEY PETERSON was born in London, Ontario. She appeared there in her first theatrical production, Pinocchio, at the age of ten. Her professional acting career began at the age of nineteen with a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Since then she has played over a hundred roles on television, in film and on the stage.

Shelley has had a lifelong love for animals, big and small, and horses in particular. She has written four young adult novels about girls and their love for and adventures with horses.


When Shelley’s not writing or acting, she spends time at her historic home, Fox Ridge Farm, where she trains, rides, and cares for her horses.


  1. Please be aware of our Ground Rules, then simply scroll down and enter your question in the box that says “BE HEARD IN THE HERD.”
  2. Keep in mind this is not a live interview, it’s more like an ongoing party with people coming in and out each day. Shelley will check in periodically and respond to your questions in her own words. Girls Horse Club will moderate.
  3. To make the most of the time we have with Shelley, please don’t ask her to read or comment on stories you’ve written. Instead, try to think of questions that are meaningful to all participants and readers.

08-24-07 UPDATE: Questions are now closed. Please read the comments for lots of inspiration and information from this talented author.

Many grateful nickers and whinnies to Shelley for sharing her time, wisdom and talent. Ask for Shelley’s books at your local library or bookseller — all are must-reads for horse loving girls!

As always, thanks to all who contributed to the Interactive View.

51 Nickers »

  1. Hello, glad too be part of the Interactive View! Thanks for coming to girls horse club. :) It means alot to us.

    So, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

  2. I LOVE Dancer, I’ve only read the first chapter though…. How do you write so amazingly? And, are the horses in your books real :-/?

  3. hey! so what is so historic about the farm you live on?

  4. Hello! thanks for your time, i was wondering where you get your ideas from? :)

  5. Hello, I want to be a writer one day. I was wondering if it’s more difficult forming people or horse characters? Thanks!

    By the way, I can’t wait to read SunDancer!

  6. You are so amazing! Do you have any special horses?

  7. I love your book Sundancer!I have a question though,when you wrote about Bird,were you thiking about sombody who you knew when you came up with her personality?

  8. Hello everybody! I’m very happy to be part of this great club. Thanks for your very welcoming remarks. I’ll try to answer your questions.

    To Mustang Heart, I always loved making up stories. Fantasy is a part of my life. Stories and characters made up my training as an actress, too, so it was a logical transition.

    To Tori; My fictional horses are based on horses I’ve known and loved. Every horse is different, as you know, just like people.

    To Syd; My house is made of stone and was built by early settlers from Scotland in 1847, which makes it historic. It was the first to be built in my particular area in Caledon.

    To Animalsrkool; My ideas come from everyday life and the people and creatures around me. In every book I explore problems and situations that are quite real.

    To Julia; Good luck in your plans to become a writer. It’s a very satisfying but difficult job. Stay with it! I find animals easier to portray than people. Maybe because I enjoy them so much.

    To horsejo; I have very special horses. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but my mare, Allegra, whose picture is on the Author’s page of Dancer, died last Christmas because of breaking her leg. I think she’s the most special to me now because I miss her.

    To Cassie; Bird is based on a few people. One girl who used to come ride with me had a form of Elective Mutism like Bird, so she put the germ of the idea into my head. It was years later when I put her story together with Sundancer’s story, which was another real horse. Of course I fictionalized him, too.

  9. Hey Shelley! I’m so glad you could come here!So, lately I have been told by my mom that she would send in my story I’m trying to write to a publisher.Any reccomendations on publishers?It’s a fiction book. And, how can I stop myself from starting the story over an over, and start being satisfied with my work?

  10. I’m sorry for another question,but I’m really curios if you ever had writer’s block,and if you did,how did you get over it?Thanks! O:-)

  11. Hi Shelly! Wow, I never knew you were an actress as well as an author! How do you juggle your successful careers with caring for your horses?

  12. Hi again folks.

    To Ali; Every writer’s biggest challenge is to find a publisher who’ll take a chance on you. It’s a financial risk for them, since they print it and send it out to stores. Look at the Writer’s Union web page for ideas for publishers and send your stories to the ones that accept unsolicited manuscripts. As for how to know when you’re satisfied and can stop tinkering, that’s hard to do! It will never be perfect, but I sure know how that feels!

    To Cassie; Hello again! Yes, I get writer’s block. There are different intensities, of course, but sometimes I’ll re-edit my work until I get back in the flow. If that doesn’t work I take a day or so off, then try again. Every writer gets some form of it. Don’t worry.

    To pony-at-heart; I can write and look after my horses at the same time, but when I get an acting job I have to rely on our excellent barn staff, and the horses get a break from riding. Since we have a boarding operation, we can afford full-time help for them. There are 18 horses, and 12 are boarders. My husband David owns 1, I train and own 3, one is a yearling and one is a brood-mare.

  13. Hi Shelly. I was wondering what did you do first, acting, writing or riding? Thanks! :D

  14. Hi Shelley! This is such a great opportunity. What Ali said had got me wondering, what do you have to do to get a book published? Thanks a lot!

  15. Have you ever wrote a book that didn’t get published? If so, how did you feel?

  16. Hi again Shelly,were those really Sundancer’s words on the start of each page? :-/

  17. Hi everyone! Tell me where you come from when you write, so I can get a picture in my mind of who I’m talking to. I want to know about you, too, so let me in on what you do.

    Hello Halz; My first word was ‘horsey’ according to my mother, so horses have always come first. Books and stories and make-believe came solidly next, so acting and writing really came at the same time. Writing about horses blends two loves for me, which is why I enjoy it so much.

    Dear Madelaina; You ask a difficult question because there are many variables here, like which publisher is looking for what kind of book to publish, etc. All you can do is try. Look at the web page for the publisher’s union or writer’s union and you’ll get a list. On that list is what kind of thing they publish. Start there and be prepared to wait for an answer! Get some opinions first, though, and make it as good as it can be before you send it out. People’s suggestions can be hard to hear but it the end help make a better story.

    Hi again, horsejo; My first book, Dancer, was refused by 17 publishers. I almost gave up several times because I lost faith in it. You do wonder about how good your work is when it’s rejected enough times! And it feels bad, to answer your question. To answer your other question; no, I’ve never had a book that didn’t get published, but it was close. If my mother and sisters and daughter and sons and husband (my family is great!) hadn’t kept telling me to try again, I would never be an author and I wouldn’t be talking to you now!

  18. Hi! I want to be a writer to, and I already wrote a few poems, Do you have any pointers?

  19. Thank you, Shelley! I wrote a short story (not a chapter book) and I was thinking of publishing it. Do you have a special tips about how to prefect my story before I do so?

  20. Hi again Cassie! When I first had problems with Sunny (yes, he was a real horse, but fictionalized) a rider I know told me to call Indian Fred, a horse psychic from California. I thought it was a crazy idea but I did it. I took notes. Indian Fred always spoke from the horse’s point of view, and the quotations at the beginning of each chapter are what he told me that Sunny was saying. It amazed me how accurate Indian Fred was in reading that horse. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago.

    Hello Jeanna B.; Wow! There are quite a few of you who want to be writers! I wish you all luck. Jeanna, poetry is quite special and beautiful. If you write it, you must be very thoughtful and reflective. You asked if I have any pointers. I really think one good thing to do is to show your work to people you trust (it’s important to choose the right people for this!) and get their feedback. Listen to what they say, then decide if you want to follow their advice, but take it seriously and with an open mind. Your teacher, your Mother, Dad, friend, Aunt… whoever you think would have good judgement and not be too harsh.

    Hey there horsejo; To perfect anything is hard work. Writing is no different. Read your work again. Fix things that don’t tell the story exactly like you want, or descriptions that need tweaking. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Will he get what you mean? Will he see the story the way you see it? Can he smell the atmosphere, hear the noises, feel the emotions you want him to? Then read it again. Edit it again. Little things, big things. Then when you’d be proud to read it aloud to your class, ask someone else to read it over and give you feedback. Like I said to Jeanna B., Take their thoughts with an open mind and go with them if they’re an improvement. Don’t be too proud to learn!

  21. Shelly,you asked us to tell you about what kind of stories we write,so I thought I ahd better tell you.I like writing poetry even though I prefer writing fictional stories.My poem Haley’s Comet won second prise for the judge for yourself contest,so I guess it was pretty good!
    I like writing fictional chapter stories like Finding Spirit and my International Horse Competition entry Bordeax-A New Begining.I had another horse story set in World War Two called Hose in The Night.I like setting my stories in the past as much as the present.I hope this gives you an idea of what I like writing.

  22. Thank you for all of the helpful tips. My story is so sad, that it left both my mum and sister in tears. Do people like to read sad stories? Because it is sad at the beginning, middle, then it gets happy at the end.

  23. Stories were i’m the main character are better for me, where it’s from my point of view. Are you like that? I’ve not read any of your books, so I don’t have any ideas.

  24. Acting huh? Have you ever thought of writing your own scripts or turning your books into a movie? I think it would be amazing to act out your own book!

    …well, as far as about me, I have only ever written two things that I liked. One being the Blog Remember to Count Your Horse Blessings, and my Int*l horse contest entry. I like exploring our world through books. What’s it like to run across the playa as the last wild Przewalksi’s horse? What’s it like to be a salmon trying to jump upstream? Our world is so vast and amazing that I don’t think we’ll ever be able to explore every part of it.

  25. Hello Cassie; It sounds like you’re on your way to becoming a writer. Your story ideas are intriguing and you have lots and lots of ideas. That helps! Keep up the hard work of writing, Cassie.

    Hi Horsejo; If you can make people cry, you’re doing something right! Especially people who know you as well as your family. I think people love sad stories, and if they turn out happy, they feel really good about it. Life can be sad, and happy, too. Art mirrors life, in all it’s forms, so never fear emotion.

  26. Hi shelly, I bought your new book “sundancer” and I love it! Im only on chapter 5 and its one of the best horse novels I have ever read!! Are your other books related to eachother? Because “Abby Malone” made an appearence in sundacer.

  27. Thank you. :D So other than horse books, have you ever published any other books?

  28. Hello again Animalsrkool! Every author is different in their approach to how they prefer to have their charachters speak. One way to tell a story is from your own point of view. I like to use third person, so I can tell the story from several points of view. No way is the right way, though.

    Mustang Heart, hello!; It’s a special skill to turn books into movie scripts, and a writer has already done that for Dancer, my first book. I haven’t tried. Somehow I like them as they are, as books, where each reader decides how they want to imagine the story. I agree with you that there are countless things to explore in writing out there!

    Hello Katlyn; I’m so happy that you’re enjoying Sundancer! Thanks for reading it and taking the time to let me know. It gives me encouragement as I write my next one, ‘Murder in Caledon’. And yes, my books are all related to each other, although I’ve written them so each one can stand alone.

    horsejo, greetings; No, I’ve only written four books, all with horse themes. Maybe one day I will write another kind, but not yet.

  29. Did you begin writing when you were a kid and what is your writing strategy? I need to know because you write so good! :)

  30. Thanks for the wonderful compliment, Marisa!

    I’ve always loved to write stories, starting when I was a kid. (At school, my friends always asked me for story ideas because I had too many ideas for myself. Does that happen to you?)

    The strategy question is a big one. What works for one writer doesn’t work for another, so you’ll have to develop one that works. What I tend to do is wait until I have a pretty good idea of what I want to write about, think of what adventures and what characters to use to tell that story, and then begin. It takes me months to get the first draft done, then many more months to edit and shape and add themes and finish up loose threads. Then I check it over and start giving it to my trusted reader friends (who I choose very carefully!), I go back to it with their insights and questions after a little rest from it, so I can see it with fresh eyes. I tried to do it a more economical way by writing it in point form first, but then I lost interest because I knew the ending and I couldn’t write it. Weird, eh?

  31. Hello again! Everything you’ve said is truly an inspiration. I was wondering if you have any favorite authors who inspire you to write, the way you inspire me to write? Thanks!

  32. Thank you Shelley! That really helped! People do sometimes ask me for ideas, but mostly they come up to me asking for a drawing of a horse because I draw them all the time during math and I guess I’ve been getting pretty good at it! lol

  33. Julia, thanks: There will be many inspirations in your writing career, and I’m honored that I can be one. I have many favorite authors because I love to read. In Canada we have so many great ones, like Robertson Davies, Margaret Attwood, Carol Shields, Michael Ondaji, Margaret Lawrence, and the list goes on. It’s important to pay tribute to others in our field, because the success of one is success for us all.

    Hello Marisa; I’m glad I can be of help. So, you’re an artist, too! Excellent. Maybe you can illustrate your own books someday. Wouldn’t that be great?

  34. Have you ever loved any other animals other than horses?

  35. Hey Shelly,another question for you,who is your greatest inspiration when you write?

  36. horsejo! I love all kinds of animal and always have. My cat, Herman, is one, and my dog, Wile E. Coyote (who is really Cody, the coyote in my books), turtles, raccoons, rats, squirrels, goats; they’ve all ben pets at one time or another. What about you, horsejo? What state or province do you live in? And tell me about your name! How did you come up with horsejo?

    Cassie! I love your questions. They’re difficult to answer! I don’t think I have a person in mind as an inspiration when I write. The stories and people and animals come from my life and events that have happened to me, so it’s a random thing. Also, my readers are important to me, too.They inspire me to keep writing. Let me ask you the same question. Also, what area of the world are you from?

  37. Was there a first horse that sparked your love for horses? Or an experience maybe?

  38. Shelly,I’m from Alberta Canada!My inspiration when I write comes from a couple things.I have to give my Mom a lot of credit for always encouraging me and always looking up my stories so I always am trying to make my parents proud when I write.A lot of my stories are thought up because of the horses that I’ve met.Just like you,I fictionalize them.For instance,in my story The Pony That Stole Her Heart,the pony is based on a pony named El Tibo.In As Black As Night,I was thinking of a pony named Asia.There are a lot of horses that I have met that have inspired me to write.Then I always enjoy the praise of my friends.They are always coming on and looking at my stories so I really enjoy the praise that they offer :)) :)) :))

  39. Well, I live in TN, Shelly. And my name is Jo, but because I love horses so much I like to go by horsejo. Every Saturday I ride horses or ponies at my local stables. There is a big barn and it is very fun. I love to jump and canter. I really hope to get my own horse soo. Say, how old were you when you got your first horse?

  40. Hello Julia; Yes there was a first horse. Her name was Lady, and she pulled the milk wagon that brought milk door-to-door in London, Ontario where I grew up. Even though her face was covered inflies in the summer and she was furry and dirty all winter, I loved her and made my mother carry me out to pat her (that was before I could walk). Her smell was powerful to me as a child, but I loved it.

    Thanks for telling me about yourself, Cassie; A fellow Canadian! My mother and friends are very important to my writing, too. And my readers, just like you. Positive feedback keeps us going, doesn’t it? One day I know I’ll pick up a book and it will be written by you.

    Hi Jo who loves horses! Is TN Tennessee? Your barn sounds like so much fun. Do you ride lots of horses or do you have a favourite? I hope you can have a horse of your own some day, but remember, horses don’t care who paid for them, they care who’s good to them. I got my first horse when I was 14. It was a horse that a farmer didn’t want, and gave to my Dad. I named him Napoleon because he was little and tough. He was a kicker and a biter, but he was mine and I loved him!

  41. That is so sweet! Yeah, TN stands for Tennessee. I love to ride Gabby, a little paint pony, Tux, Magic, and Rambo, a horse that was sold at my old barn. But I would have to tell you the truth: All horses are really amazing and wonderful and a whole lot of people love them. Do you ever just want to ride all day long?

  42. horsejo; You’re so right. Horses are amazing and wonderful, and they really appreciate when people love them. Yes. Some days I want to ride all day long. You have a beautiful poetic heart, horsejo. I hope all your dreams come true.

  43. Thank you very much, Shelly. As a girl, what did you enjoy to do? (Other then spending time with horses)

  44. Well, Shelly, I guess all I have to say is goodbye; it was really great talking to you! :)

  45. Shelly, I can’t believe the interview is over already! I’m going to squeeze in a couple extra questions but I want to thank you for taking the time to do this for our club. It really means a lot to us when we have real authors coming in and encouraging us. One day it will be my book that you pick up!

    As for my questions, what has been your favourite part about blogging on Girls Horse Club and would you do it again?

    Thanks again for doing this and soory that today has to be your last day with us! :((

  46. Meep! I’ll try and squeeze in a question as well!

    Do you ever think about starting a rescue center? I ask because That’s my dream. I really want to have a Ranch and take in sick/abused/’death row shelter’ animals of all sorts.

    I live in Texas, but I’m not telling just where. ;) You’d think there’d be more horses near me! Unfortuatly, I only know 2 of the best horses in the world, Duke and Buck, and have recently ridden for the very first time! Buck does theraputic riding.


  47. Mrs. Peterson, thank you so much for answering everyone’s questions. I’m seriously taking everything you’ve said to heart. You’re an amazing author as well as inspiration.

  48. I agree with Julia, Thank You very much :)

  49. Thank you very much! I hope we get to speak to you again, everything you said is so inspiring! It reminds me to never give up and fight for your dreams! :)

  50. :( I wish you didnt have to go. Will you ever come here again? Hope you never forget all the caring girls here at GHC!!!!

    (Especiall y me :))

    Oh, i have on question,

    Did you ever think of turning your books into movies??

  51. Thanks so much for being such wonderful pen pals! I’ll miss every one of you. This has been a terrific experience for me, and I’m grateful to you for being so welcoming.

    Let me answer your questions for the last time.

    horsejo, my friend; I loved to spend time in the library with books, in the theatre with make-believe, and of course, any barn with animals in it! Good luck with everything you choose to do. I really liked talking to you, too.

    Dear Cassie; My favourite part of this blog is you kids! It was so great getting to hear your questions and learn a little bit about you. I would certainly do this again.
    Thanks for your encouragement, too. I’m sure you will write a book or two, Cassie!

    Mustang Heart, hello and goodbye!; I love the idea of a rescue ranch. Old horses need a good place to live out their lives, unless they’re in pain, and then it’s best to help them (with a vet) end their lives. An animal in pain is desperately unhappy. My brother and his family live in Texas, in Argyle. They love it. Buck and Duke sound like great horses- useful, too! Therapeutic riding is so wonderful for people with disabilities. The animals love to be useful.

    Julia; Thanks for your lovely words and thanks for being part of this great experience. Good luck with all you do!

    Animalrkool; Thanks to you, too. You’ve asked some good questions and we’ve had some good chats! Cheers to you and good luck.

    Marisa: You’re so right! Keep fighting for your dreams. They won’t come true tomorrow- you must work for them. Day to day, make choices that will eventually get you there. Good luck!

    Tori; I will certainly come again if I’m invited, because you’ve made me feel so welcome. And you are quite right about you girls being caring. What a lovely bunch!
    Yes, I’ve thought of turning my books into movies. They’d have to be just right, though, because I’m protective of my characters and plots and all. One day, maybe!

    Thanks again, girls!! I now have all the encouragement I need to finish my next book. I hope you had as good a time as I did! XXXXOOOO