Linda Chapman lives in Leicestershire with her family, dogs, and ponies. She has written widely for children, and her many series include skating and mermaids. She’s written several pony-orientated series for the younger reader; at least they involve unicorns, but as The Secret Unicorn series is about a pony who turns into a unicorn, I’ve counted it as a pony story. The Secret Unicorn series is readable and well observed: although there’s not as much pony content as some series, the characters and situations are attractive.
Linda stuck with unicorns for her Unicorn School series. Linda, who describes this series as “school stories with unicorns,” and told me this wasn’t one of her favourites. Her Sky Horses series is for the older reader. She says:
“The Sky Horses books I have written (it is a quartet) is part pony story - girl mad about ponies, helps at riding school, gets bullied by older girls, ends up standing up to them and at the very end getting a pony on loan, and part fantasy horse story (there are magnificent sky horses who control the weather, one, a stallion, has been captured by a dark spirit and brought to Earth and Erin, the heroine, has to free him). It is more fantasy than pony story although I liked writing the pony bits best. I didn't have the length in the books to go into the pony story in as much detail as I would have liked. It is a spin-off of my popular Stardust (non-pony) series.”
Linda has written books under other author names: she’s contributed some of the Lucy Daniels’ Animal Ark series. She said: “I wrote five of under the Lucy Daniels umbrella name - The Horseshoe Trilogies but they are published in the US, only the first three were published here (under the title Perfect Ponies).”
If you are a Heartland fan, you will probably have read some Linda Chapman, as she is one of the authors behind the Lauren Brooke brand. The original Heartland concept was Linda’s: the stories were originally supposed to be set in Cheshire, but when an American publisher wanted to buy the series, it was relocated. She told me “I was rather terrified at first because of the differences with the horse world here and there even when taking Western riding out of the equation. The potential for mistakes seemed huge. I set it in Virginia because that seemed the closest to the kind of horse scene I could recognise. I wrote Heartland books 1-6, 8, 10 and 12, writing the last few alternately with Gill Harvey.”
Linda was keen, after writing Heartland, to write a horsy series for older readers, and she then wrote the Loving Spirit quartet. This is a well-observed picture of a girl who has come to England to start a new life, where she has to battle with grief, an unsympathetic uncle, and living in a busy showing yard. She is helped by the relationships she fosters with her cousin, and with her horse, Spirit. I enjoyed this series: it has vivid characters, and the showing background is fascinating.
Linda Chapman is still writing, and has several horsy stories in the pipeline.
Finding the books
All are still in print