About the author
Nancy Springer has written several very well received science fiction and fantasy series, and has also written seven horse books. Her horse books tend to be rite-of-passage stories; a teenager is confronted with an extremely difficult situation, and with the aid of a horse, manages if not to overcome it, at least learn how to cope. This in many ways reflects her own experiences. As a young wife she had the terrifying experience of hearing voices in her head, allied to panic attacks. Medication and therapy were no help, but she found the courage, or as she said, the desperation, to stop trying to conform, and she started to take some time out of each day to write. Writing was her healer, though the process took years. Ironically, as she grew better, her marriage broke apart when her husband found someone else: “a skinny, neurotic waif all too similar to the young woman I once was.” She has now re-married, and lives in Florida.
Of her writing, she says: “ If I were a chicken I would definitely be a free-range kind of old hen defending my right to lay dragon eggs. There is no need for me to try to be different; I come by it naturally.”
Presumably she takes a fairly dim view of some of her cover art. On her website, she says: “I first started calling myself a “word farmer” when visiting schools, as a way of helping the children understand that writing was my life’s work but I didn’t have control of the packaging. As a word farmer I do my best to grow good, nutritious, tasty, colorful words, but I don’t get to say whether the supermarket puts them in pink plastic baskets or cardboard boxes or shrink-wrap, and I don’t get to draw a picture to put on the package, and I don’t get to set the price they charge the customer.”
Finding the books
All the books are easy to find. Boy on a Black Horse is currently in print. None of her horse titles were published in the UK, but are easy to find from the usual sources.
Links and sources
Nancy Springer’s website – read it. She’s well worth it.
An interview with Nancy Springer (link no longer works)
Many thanks to Lisa Catz and Susan Bourgeau for all the photographs.
Bibliography (horse books only)
A Horse to Love
Harper & Row, New York, 1987, 181 pp
Erin’s parents hope buying her a horse will cure her shyness. Spindrift is an equine grump, but despite this, Erin does manage to increase her self-esteem. Aunt Lexie provides sage advice.
Not on a White Horse
Knopf, New York, 1988, 182 pp
Knopf Bullseye, 1988
Rhiannon spots a white Arabian gelding in the woods near her home in a small Pennsylvania mining town: he’s lost. Life isn’t easy for Rhiannon, but as she learns about the horse she learns she does have the power to influence her future.
They’re All Named Wildfire
Atheneum, New York, 1989, 103 pp
A book about prejudice: Jenny and Shanterey both love horses, but one of them is white and one black. Shanterey is the object of racism, but the two girls bond over the palomino Wildfire. As the girls’ friendship deepens, threats and prejudice against them both reach an horrific conclusion.
Dial Books for Young Readers, New York,1991, 121 pp
Puffin (USA), 1994
Colt has spina bifida, and his response to everything is “I don’t want to.” He’s then enrolled in a riding for the disabled programme, and the Appaloosa Liverwurst changes his life. Colt learns a new outlook on life, which helps when his mother marries again and he has a new family.
The Great Pony Hassle
Dial Books for Young Readers, New York,1993, 76 pp, illus Daniel Mark Duffy
“A mother of ten-year-old twins marries a man who also has ten-year-old twins. The four girls do not have much in common. There is much jealousy and rivalry, due to sharing parents and bedrooms. This worsens when one of the twins demands a pony as a reward for accepting the new living arrangements. Enter Paisley, a palomino pony. The girls must now learn to work together, or lose their pony.”
Boy on a Black Horse
Atheneum, New York, 1994, 166 pp
Troll Communications, New York, 1994
Atheneum, New York, 2010
Gray (a girl) meets a strange new boy who rides a black horse and lives on his own with his siblings. When the children are ill, Gray and her aunt take them in. The family have run away from their violent father.
Avon, New York, 1999, 117 pp
Harper Trophy, New York, 2000
A supernatural story: Dusty’s mother has died, and she is suffering from a back injury caused in an accident when her father was drunk. Now her horse will have to be put down, but he is saved by the ghostly, though angry, figure of a boy.
Short stories and other works
Horse Fantastic: The Most Magical Thing About Rachel
Daw, New York, 1991
Contains her short story The Boy Who Plaited Manes
Music of Their Hooves –
Wordsong, New York, 1994