Oldfield, Jenny

Jenny Oldfield (b.1949) must be a publisher’s dream. She can write for a variety of ages; she writes series at the drop of a hat; she can write in any currently fashionable idiom; is equally happy setting series in America and the UK, and is astonishingly prolific. She published her first book, Tomorrow Will Be My Dancing Day, in 1975, and since then has published over 160 books: a quite staggering total. Although much of her work is about animals, a sure seller with children for centuries, she has written series aimed at a wide variety of markets. 'I talk to my publisher,' she says, 'about the next big thing,' and it’s obviously very successful. She’s done historical fiction for adults, teen diary type fiction (Marsha Martinez) and the wicked boy (Totally Tom). She writes under pseudonyms too: Jasmine Oliver, Kate Pennington, Jodie Mellor, and Donna King. She has also written titles for the phenomenally successful Lucy Daniels Animal Ark series published by Hodder.

She has focused on the pony book market with several series: Half Moon Ranch, My Magical Pony, Black Pearl Ponies, and Stardust Stables (as Sable Hamilton). The Half Moon Ranch series is set in Colorado, on a ranch run by the Scott family. Kirstie Scott is the heroine of the series, which tends to focus on a different horse in each different title, whom Kirstie must save or rehabilitate. My Magical Pony is a fantasy series. Krista, the heroine, is a devoted attender at a local stables, but she’s helped in her adventures by Shining Star, a mystical pony who descends from the clouds, dispensing wisdom as he goes. The Dreamseeker trilogy is possibly not exclusively pony-orientated: it is about the young Sioux Four Winds, and his spirit horse Silver Cloud. The lengthy (and televised) Home Farm Twins series has several titles which are about horses or ponies, as does the Animal Alert series. Jenny Oldfield has also edited a book of horsey short stories for Kingfisher: Horse and Pony Stories.

Jenny Oldfield was born and brought up in Harrogate, studied English at Birmingham University, and taught before writing full time. She learned to ride so that she could research the Half Moon series and know what she was talking about. Six weeks before she left England for Colorado, she took riding lessons, and it must have paid off. She said: 'When you're writing for kids you have to have a good memory of childhood, so memory, observation, travel, reading, everything, there's never a moment where you're walking through a street and don't look at somebody and say I wonder what's going on there and store it and reuse it.' She’s certainly generated a lot from those first few riding lessons.

She is, I think, the most prolific pony author working in the UK today. Her output dwarfs those of her contemporaries. She will soon no doubt overtake Christine Pullein-Thompson’s 57, making her the author of more pony books than any other author in the UK.

She has been rather less prolific over recent years: three books under the Jodie Mellor pseudonym, two pony stories as Tina Nolan, and a retelling of As You Like It for A&C Black in 2009. She has started a new pony series, Black Pearl Ponies, the first of which were issued in 2011. It is another American-based series, for Hodder, featuring Keira and her life on a ranch, and appears now to have concluded after six titles.

Jenny Oldfield is now writing another series under the pseudonym Sable Hamilton. Again set in America, it’s a series set in a stunt riding stable. Stardust Stables provides trained horses and teenage stunt riders for the film industry: quite possibly a first in equine literature. As with all Oldfield books, it’s a rollicking read. Oldfield is an excellent plotter and storyteller, and if you want entertaining reading without angst, she’s your woman.

Finding the books
The majority are still in print. All are easy to find, and generally reasonably priced.

Sources and links
Jenny Oldfield’s website (link no longer working)
Jenny Oldfield at Hodder - biographical information
The Lucy Daniels authors, The Guardian, 22nd March, 2000
My review of My Magical Pony
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood and Annette York for their help with the photographs.

Bibliography: pony books only
Solo the Homeless (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 1996, 118 pp.
TV Tie in version, 1999
Quarantine (Animal Alert 4), Hodder, 1997, 124 pp.
Stevie the Rebel (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 1997, 123 pp.
TV tie in version, 2000
Skin and Bone (Animal Alert), Hodder, 1998, 138 pp.
Heatwave (Animal Alert), Hodder, 1999, 140 pp.
Scott the Braveheart (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 1999, 122 pp.
Sultan the Patient (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 1998, 119 pp.
Star the Surprise (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 1999, 122 pp. Illus Kate Aldous
Wild Horses (Half Moon Ranch 1), Hodder, 1999, 156 pp.
Reprinted 2000
Large print edition: Galaxy, Bath, 2006
Whitebrook Farm’s review of Wild Horses
Rodeo Rocky (Half Moon Ranch 2), Hodder, 1999, 152 pp.
Large print edition: Galaxy, Bath, 2006
Whitebrook Farm’s review of Rodeo Rocky
Crazy Horse (Half Moon Ranch 3), Hodder, 1999, 152 pp.
Johnny Mohawk (Half Moon Ranch 4), Hodder, 1999, 154 pp.
Midnight Lady (Half Moon Ranch 5), Hodder, 1999, 152 pp.
Large Print Edition, Galaxy, 2006
Third Time Lucky (Half Moon Ranch 6), Hodder, 1999, 154 pp.
Smarty the Outcast (Home Farm Twins), Hodder, 2000, 121 pp.
Navaho Joe (Half Moon Ranch 7), Hodder, 2000, 155 pp.
Starlight (Half Moon Ranch Special), Hodder, 2000, 152 pp.
Home Farm Friends (short stories), Hodder, 2000, 120 pp.
Hollywood Princess (Half Moon Ranch 8), Hodder, 2000, 158 pp.
Danny Boy (Half Moon Ranch 9), Hodder, 2000, 152 pp.
Little Vixen (Half Moon Ranch 10), Hodder, 2000, 154 pp.
Jethro Junior (Half Moon Ranch Special), Hodder, 2000, 155 pp.
Gunsmoke (Half Moon Ranch 11), Hodder, 2000, 157 pp.
Golden Dawn (Half Moon Ranch 12), Hodder, 2000, 154 pp.
Silver Spur  (Half Moon Ranch 13), Hodder, 2001, 154 pp.
Moon Dance (Half Moon Ranch 14), Hodder, 2001, 155 pp.
Lady Roseanne (Half Moon Ranch 15), Hodder, 2001, 155 pp.
Steamboat Charlie (Half Moon Ranch 16), Hodder, 2001, 144 pp.
Sky Lark (Half Moon Ranch 17), Hodder, 2001, 156 pp.
Eagle Wing (Half Moon Ranch 18), Hodder, 2001, 153 pp.
El Dorado (Wild Horses of Half Moon Ranch 1), Hodder, 2001, 156 pp.
Santa Ana (Wild Horses of Half Moon Ranch 2), Hodder, 2001, 156 pp.
Chiquitita (Wild Horses of Half Moon Ranch 3), Hodder, 2001, 154 pp.
Silver Cloud (Dreamseeker 1), Hodder, 2001, 229 pp. Cover illustration David Kearney
Diamond Charm (Half Moon Ranch Special), Hodder, 2002, 156 pp.
Iron Eyes (Dreamseeker Trilogy 2), Hodder, 2002, 199 pp.
Bad Heart (Dreamseeker Trilogy), Hodder, 2003, 200 pp.
The Kingfisher Book of Horse and Pony Stories, Kingfisher, 2005, 122 pp.
Silver Mist (My Magical Pony 1), Hodder, 2005, 143pp.
Shining Star (My Magical Pony 2), Hodder, 2005, 126pp.
Dawn Light (My Magical Pony 3), Hodder, 2006, 142pp.
My review of the book
Midnight Snow (My Magical Pony 4), Hodder, 2006, 140pp.
Summer Shadows (My Magical Pony 5), Hodder, 2006, 126pp.
Bright Eyes (My Magical Pony), Hodder, 2006, 142pp.
Pale Moon (My Magical Pony 7), Hodder, 2006, 142pp.
Summertime Blues (My Magical Pony 8), Hodder, 2006, 143pp.
North Star (My Magical Pony 9), Hodder, 2006, 143pp.
Sea Haze (My Magical Pony 10), Hodder, 2006, 143pp.
Falling Leaves (My Magical Pony 11), Hodder, 2006, 143pp.
Red Skies (My Magical Pony 12), Hodder, 2006, 143pp.
Starlight Dream (My Magical Pony 13), Hodder, 2007, 143pp.
Secret Whispers (My Magical Pony 14), Hodder, 2007, 142pp.
New Beginnings (My Magical Pony 15), Hodder, 2007, 143pp.
As Tina Nolan:
Merlin the Homeless Foal, Stripes, London, 2007, 110 pp.
As Tina Nolan:
Rosie the Problem Pony
, Stripes, London, 2009, 123 pp, illus Sharon Rentta
As Jenny Oldfield:
Red Star (Black Pearl Ponies 1)
, Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 160 pp.
Wildflower (Black Pearl Ponies 2), Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 160 pp.
Miss Molly (Black Pearl Ponies 3), Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 161 pp.
Stormcloud (Black Pearl Ponies 4), Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 161 pp.
Snickers (Black Pearl Ponies 5), Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 160 pp.
Ghost Horse (Black Pearl Ponies 6), Hodder Children’s Books, London, 2011, 161 pp.
As Sable Hamilton:
A Star is Born (Stardust Stables 1)
, Stripes Publishing, London, 2013
As Sable Hamilton:
Wildfire (Stardust Stables 2)
, Stripes Publishing, London, 2013, 154 pp.
As Sable Hamilton:
Free Spirit (Stardust Stables 3)
, Stripes Publishing, London, 2014
As Sable Hamilton:
Sunset in the West (Stardust Stables 4)
, Stripes Publishing, London, 2014