Tag Archives: YA

Author Interview: Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins

Author Jeffrey Cook and his co-author/Editor Katherine Perkins are research nerds. Having been inspired to find out more by the books and comics they read as kids, they now love writing the kind of books that send people running to Google to look up the history, or mythology, or whatever.  Please welcome them both to No Wasted Ink.

jeffrey-cookkatherine-perkinsJeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, WA with his wife and three large dogs. Katherine Perkins lives in Ontario, OH with her husband and one cat. Jeff was born in Boulder, CO, but basically spent the first half of his life all over North America. Katherine was born in Lafayette, LA, the cuisine of which she will defend on any field of honor, and saved most of her moving around for after graduate school. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeff enjoys role-playing games and watching football, and Kate wonders if she left the stove on. Kate’s been Jeff’s book editor/website manager/etc. for years until she logically had to start being credited as a co-writer.

When and why did you begin writing?

In terms of storytelling, we both got something of an early start, particularly Jeff. When he was very small, he spent long rides in the car doing back-and-forth storytelling with his dad. By the time he was six, his mother says, he was declaring his intention to be an author.

Kate was pegged as a future writer by teachers in school, but had concentrated more on being a historian before she ended up a freelance editor, ad then working with Jeff.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Jeff’s been a writer for some time, having gotten poetry and professional journalism published many years ago, but considered himself an author in 2014, when he first sold a copy of Dawn of Steam: First Light to someone he didn’t know personally. The Fair Folk Chronicles are actually the first published books with Katherine’s name on the cover.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Foul is Fair is the first book of a Young Adult contemporary Fantasy series, the Fair Folk Chronicles. It draws a lot on mythology and folklore, especially Celtic and Hawaiian, but is set in modern-day Seattle, where a 16-year-old girl finds out her father is the Unseelie King (“What, like, ’80s David Bowie?”) and needs her help. Fortunately, she also has along a menehune BFF, a satyress rock star, and a disabled pixie with a service crow.

What inspired you to write this book?

Jeff woke up from one of his dreams again. They’ve been a jumping off point for a lot of books, by now. “Her name is Megan O’Reilly, and her ADHD is partly caused by her being half faerie.” Then it was time for us both to delve into research.

Do you have a specific writing style?

We tend to adjust style quite a bit to fit the content of what we’re writing, but admittedly, our reading a lot of comic books in younger days often shows through, with action and witty banter.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Jeff, in focusing in on the Celtic mythology aspects of the book, really wanted to tie the whole series in with the idea of the “Fair Folk.” So each book in the series took a different use of the word ‘Fair’ to tie them all together, starting out with a Shakespeare reference. Appropriate enough, since there’s certainly a number of Shakespeare references throughout the books.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Various ideas are explored about assumption and perception and other things, but mostly we want to tell a good story.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, with the exception of the Fremont Solstice Festival in Seattle. Jeff really enjoys including places he’s been in books, but we don’t use real people.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

  • Mary Shelly, for the depth and richness of her work and for how ahead of her time she was.
  • C.S. Lewis, because you never forget your first.
  • Louis L’Amour, for his use of mythology and background, albeit not how he handles endings.
  • Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues, solely for an incredibly valuable lesson. “What’s the most important thing you can be? Someone you can live with.”
  • Terry Pratchett, for the combination of nonsense and common sense.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

We knew we wanted pictures of the Four Lost Treasures of Ireland for the series. We had some concept art done by artist Christopher Kovacs that Katherine was very keen on, starting with the sword for Foul is Fair. The covers themselves were done by Clarissa Yeo, a professional artist who came well recommended,

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I, Jeff, got really lucky when Kate agreed to start editing for me. It’s been priceless having that additional voice, and the additional perspective has done a lot to make all of my books better. Where you can, find those other perspectives — in editing, beta reading, and general support — and listen to them. You’ll be better off for it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

We hope you enjoy the story, and that you’ll leave a review.

foulisfairJeffrey Cook
Maple Valley, WA

Katherine Perkins
Ontario, Ohio

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Foul is Fair

Cover Artist: Clarissa Yeo

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Author Interview: Che Gilson

Author Che Gilson likes to make the small epic and the epic small.  She is a YA fantasy author from the Pacific Northwest.  Please welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

Che Gilson- Black OpalHello! My name is Che Gilson and I write things and draw things. Some of those things get published which is really, really nice. I also love to draw and paint. I mostly work in watercolor and who knows- perhaps you’ll see my work in the art show of a fantasy convention you go to! I’m also quite the nerd. I love TV, movies, manga, anime, and reading. I collect Asian Ball Jointed Dolls and one of my current goals is buying a smart phone so I can play Pokémon GO… and also so I can get a credit card reader for conventions… but mostly Pokémon…

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been creating stories since I was a child. I loved the writing prompts in English class and I loved to read. My original goal was to write and draw my own comics but in art school, I discovered my attention span for comics lasts about 12 pages. I then wrote some graphic novels but unfortunately had difficulty finding an artist to work with consistently. It didn’t help when Tokyopop shut down either. So I began to write more and more prose. It was something I’d done all along, but I finally really decided to work at it because it was the only way I was going to be able to tell MY stories, no artist required.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure. I think I felt ‘officially’ like a writer when I wrote Avigon my first graphic novel, illustrated by Jimmie Robinson. I finally had my name on something and that something was in stores. That was the first real success I had getting my words out in more than a zine.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Aside from my usual line about Tea Times Three being a book about tea, witches, yummy food, and small towns. I really consider it a book about a town. I made up a fictional Maine town called Midswich. I picked Maine because it’s not a populace state and because I have an obsession with the East Coast even though I’ve only been to New York city once in high school. But the East Coast looks as close to Europe as you can get and originally I had wanted Tea Times Three to be set in England. I made Midswich a tourist town that had designed itself to look like a British village. I got the idea from Solvang, a Swedish styled town in California. There are multiple POV characters, magic, and a hint of romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

FOOD! This book is my ode to all the food I can’t eat anymore because I am allergic to everything! Other ideas went into it as well. I love what I like to call “Eccentric British Village Comedies” though all my examples of this ‘genre’ are American or Canadian. TV shows like Northern Exposure and Corner Gas. Things that revolve around small towns and shenanigans where everyone pretty much knows everyone. I also adore witches. I joke that my default mode is “witch”. And tea which aside from water, is my favorite beverage on earth. It’s pretty much the only thing besides water that I drink. So I put into Tea Times Three all the things I love, food, small town shenanigans, tea and witches.

Originally I had planned Tea Times Three as a comic book set in a little English village and the witches were much younger. I was aiming for a Middle Grade audience of kids 9-12 and maybe some shojo fans. But then Tokyopop folded and I had to re-imagine it as something else entirely. It took several years and some sage advice before the novel version clicked in my head and I started writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I strive for clarity in my writing. I’m not sure that’s a style, but that’s the approach I take. I want the writing to be clear, I want the characters to be interesting, I want to express myself in a way that is easily understood. I hope it’s interesting and I hope people enjoy it and that’s really what I want.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That was really simple. I used the name of the tea shop the three witches open in the town. Tea Times Three. And if I’m being utterly honest the name of the tea shop is a nod to Charmed the TV show. Piper opens a club named P3 which was a reference to the sister’s “power of three”, and their names which all began with “P”. This is actually the super nerd origin of the title I’ve never told anyone else!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

One of the major themes in Tea Times Three is tolerance and intolerance. The majority of the town is nervous when witches move in and it takes a few people standing up for them for people to start changing their minds.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not especially. Though I put a lot of myself into my books. I tend to give my characters all my worst personality traits and then make them bigger (the traits, not the characters). Or I give them personality traits I WISH I had, like optimism! Though I do know what it’s like to move into a new town and to live in small towns. All the food in Tea Times Three is either based on things I’ve eaten, or things I’ve seen on TV. One of my beta readers pointed out that I had described the flavor of Earl Grey tea wrong and in fact I had never drunk Earl Grey before. So I went to the grocery store and bought some. Turns out I LOVE Earl Grey and it’s become one of my favorite teas. I also rewrote my description of the flavor.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

In college I took a creative writing class and the teacher kept telling us to read Raymond Carver. So I went to the book store grabbed a collection of Raymond Carver off the shelf, sat down and read. It blew my mind. The diamond clarity of the prose, the sense of so much going unspoken, the stories of small intimate, painful moments, took my breath away. After that I wanted to write like Raymond Carver. I did too, in as much as my smaller talents could manage. but It was another writer friend of mine who took a look at my prose and said “You need to describe things more, what the hell is this?” (I paraphrase). So for love of Raymond Carver I stripped my prose down to the bones, then after talking with that writer friend I started to build it back up again.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Yes! Suzanne McLeod. She’s a British urban fantasy author and you should go check out the Spellcrackers series! I met her through a Live Journal group for UF authors called Fangs Fur Fey. She posted that she was having trouble with her book and was looking for a cheer partner to swap snippets with. I had been working on Tea Times Three for awhile and was stuck on that manuscript as well. So I replied to her and we began exchanging bits of our books. We still email back and forth and encourage each other to this day! She has provided the most ridiculously good edits on some of my shorter works and has encouraged me to keep writing for years.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed the book cover for Tea Times Three, and my earlier urban fantasy novella Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight. Though for Tea Times Three I commissioned the hand lettering you see on the cover. The lettering was drawn by Courtney Kilpatrick of Typecast Lettering. I found her on Etsy. I had a very strong vision of the Tea Times Three cover, I even had the clip art picked out years before it was published. I thought I might have to self-publish and I wanted to be ready. Having the title handwritten was inspired by Bookcoverarchive.com which showcases the covers of literary novels and has an extensive gallery of beautifully designed cover work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. But be ready to go with small presses and Indie publishing. Write what you want, what inspires you. If you love it chances are others do too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

You’ve probably heard this from other authors, but if you like a book leave a review! It doesn’t have to be brilliantly written. A simple “I liked it.” is great. Small press and Indie authors live and die by the kindness of readers.

Tx3 cover flat smallerChe Gilson
Salem Oregon

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Tea Times Three

Cover artist:  Courtney Kilpatrick
Publisher: Black Opal Books

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Author Interview: Ann Snizek

Author Ann Snizek writes young adult urban fantasy with a fresh science fiction twist. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Ann SzenikWho am I? I’m an eclectic person and a bit of a homebody. I do enjoy going out and doing things, but I completely enjoy my quiet time at home. We have a small homestead-in-progress (meaning we are slowly working toward being as self-sufficient as possible). I love animals, art, music, theater, movies, and nature. I tend to get obsessed with learning when something strikes me as interesting – which often happens – and I just run with it, devouring as much information as I can.

When and why did you begin writing?

It might be cliché, but I’ve always loved writing. I learned how to read before I started kindergarten and I spent my recess time in elementary school with paper and pencil in hand. Yes, life happened and I didn’t always get the chance to write, but story ideas constantly come into my mind and beg for me to preserve them in writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After all those years of writing, I still didn’t consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book in 2012. Even then the concept felt foreign to me. There are still days that I forget that I have several books published.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I have several books in the works, but I’m trying to focus on For: Giva de Vine (Payton Chronicles 2). It has been a long time coming and I feel guilty for not finishing it already. How can I call it a series when I only have one book published? Second to that book is The Sword of Israj (Tunuftol book 4) which has also been a long time coming as life happens quite often.

What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t remember how the details came about initially, but I wanted to write a story that my dad would be proud of. He passed away in 2010. He loved the arts and even wrote some himself. That side of my family was big in the arts. My grandparents owned and operated their own theatre with my grandmother acting, creating costumes and sets. My grandfather was a playwright and director.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a natural manner. I want to produce something that I would enjoy reading. I love connecting with my characters and going new places. I want to feel that I can relate, but also have unexpected things happen.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I like to play on words. The title for book one is To Eris – Human. So, For: Giva de Vine had to come next.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I guess if I had to pick a message it would have to be to find your own inner strength. You can often do more and be more than you let yourselves believe. Reach for the stars.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some things are taken from my own life or lives of those I know and love. Others are pure imagination. I like to blend the two. I feel it allows readers to connect as well as dream bigger. Even if you haven’t been through the same experience, everyone experiences basic emotions. That is what I try to convey.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Anne McCaffrey has long been a favorite writer. She started with a story idea that completely took off into a universe of its own. Still, with all her popularity, she always seemed to stay true to herself. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling are amazing too. They create amazing new worlds with no limits except the imagination and they started at rock bottom and worked their way up. I hope to be even partially as successful as they have been in their lives.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I try to pull techniques from books I love to read and apply it to my own writing. I constantly strive to improve my skills and grow as a writer. I don’t have a specific mentor as such. There is no one person that I go to for guidance. Instead, I look to books and push myself to learn more and always get better.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

This cover is the only cover I’ve ever purchased. I saw it and just thought it called to me and fit the feel of what I wanted. Purchasing it actually spurred me into action and I started playing with my computer graphics program and have started creating covers myself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing what you know and love. Always push yourself to do better, but have fun. If you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect readers to enjoy it?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to hear from my readers more. I wish they would give me more feedback. If you enjoy my books write a little review, let me know, and tell others. I’d love to connect with them and find out what it is they like about it and why.

To Eris Human Book CoverAnn Snizek
Rural, central Virginia

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To Eris – Human

Cover Artist: Adrijus

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Author Interview: Melissa Dickerson

Melissa Dickerson is a young adult science fiction writer who is occasionally funny but mostly just tries really, really hard.  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa DicersonI’m Melissa, and I love books. I adore them so much that I write them as well as read them. I love libraries and book fairs. My favorite books are ones that take place in our reality, but with a twist (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files), anything post-apocalyptic (Divergent, Hunger Games), or anything YA. YA is my guilty pleasure.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve just always had the urge. I was always that weird kid in school, scribbling in a notebook when everyone else was doing classwork or playing games. My prized possession is a writing assignment from second grade. It has one of those writing prompts at the top that says, “As the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve, the lights went out!” Then I had to write a story that complimented the prompt. I’m sure that I was intended to write something about Santa, or my parents… My story has a burglar, dodging bullets, and a fight scene. I’m sure my teacher thought I was deranged. I’m not certain she was wrong!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have a horrible case of impostor’s syndrome, so I didn’t consider myself a “Writer” (capital letter emphasized) until I finished my first book. Then I couldn’t deny it anymore! I’m still working up the confidence to introduce myself as a writer instead of saying “I work in IT”.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m working on the sequel to Cured, which is tentatively titled Controlled. In it, Emma discovers that there is still a good bit of the government intact and it is not friendly to post-zombies. It’s Cured, but with the volume turned up. More fight scenes, more intrigue, and more snark. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you! I think you’re going to love it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had this image in my head of a girl in a hospital gown, covered in blood, looking helpless, only everyone is terrified of her. I had to explore it, and that turned into Cured. Then I discovered that there was a second book in there, too. My mental image of Controlled is of Emma standing before a bunch of armed humans, showing she’s unarmed – only they’re still terrified.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write what I like to read, and I like to read books that draw me in with great drama and characterization, and then make me laugh out loud. So serious subjects, but with a narrator who has an irreverent outlook on life. That’s what I aimed for, anyway!

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Cured was easy – it named itself, since it’s all about what happens if you cure a zombie. Controlled was harder. I went around in circles for a while, then ended up having to brainstorm with my writing group.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are plenty of overarching themes and ideas, but the one I really want to drive home is that women are awesome! I am a huge believer in gender equality and want young women to have a good role model in Emma. I think her belief in herself is inspiring and her impetuousness is relatable for young women.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The story of Emma’s mother sticking up for her in Cured is loosely based on real events. Emma’s mom and mine share a lot of similarities. Livvy is a combination of two really good friends who have always supported me, no matter what crazy shenanigans I get up to.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Stephen King, definitely. I was reading him in middle school, and his stories were terrifying and delightful. His writing taught me that it’s okay to have dark and twisty parts of yourself (which I definitely do), and more than that, it taught me that it’s okay to occasionally let them out to see the light of day.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Someone told me that I write like Jim Butcher, and so now I can die a happy girl. I actually met him at San Diego Comic-Con one year, and he was the nicest guy ever even though I was a total fangirl lunatic. I love his writing style and that he considered himself a “long shot” as an author in the beginning. I feel the same way about myself, so I feel like maybe, just maybe it’s possible for me to be successful too.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Believe it or not, it’s a stock photo. I ran across it while looking for ideas for the cover and couldn’t get it out of my head. Once I saw it, I fell in love, and there was no other option considered.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Stick with it, and keep going. Finishing what you start is the hardest part of writing. The second hardest part is believing in yourself. If you just keep writing, you’ll get better and better at it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for reading. I’m so glad you gave me a try.

CuredMelissa Dickerson
Costa Mesa, CA

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Cured

Cover Artist: Peter Juhasz
Publisher: Infinitely Improbable Press

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Book Review: The Island Stallion Races

Book Name: The Island Stallion Races
Author: Walter Farley
First Published: 1955

Walter Farley was born in 1915 in Syracuse, New York. His uncle was a professional horseman and took the young Walter under his wing. He taught him about horses and training methods that were used on the world racing tracks. Walter spent a great deal of time with his uncle at the Belmont Race Track and stables. Many of his future novels would be set in this racing complex.

Farley was a high school student at Erasmus Hall High in Brooklyn when he began to write the first Black Stallion novel. As he continued his education at Columbia College, he completed and published The Black Stallion in 1941 when he was still an undergrad at the university. The book was a success and Farley was ready to write sequels, but World War II intervened. He was forced to set his stories about Alec Ramsey and the Black aside and instead worked for the US Army magazine Yank for the next five years. It would not be until the end of the war that Farley could return to his first love, writing about horses and the racing world. Altogether, Farley would write 21 novels about his beloved horses and would become renown as a young adult author.

Farley and his wife Rosemary had four children whom they raised on a farm in Pennsylvania and later in a beach house in Florida. The love for horses was passed on to his children and in one, his son Steve, the love of writing.

In 1989, Walter Farley was honored by the Library in Venice, Florida by the creation of the Walter Farley Literary Landmark in it’s children’s wing. Soon after, Farley died of cancer in 1989. He would not see the completion of the Young Black Stallion book or the start of production of the television series The Adventures of the Black Stallion.

There was also a famous Francis Ford Coppola film The Black Stallion, which features some of the most beautiful cinematography featuring an Arabian steed, a beach and a boy taming the heart of a horse. It stars Mickey Rooney as the old trainer and is well worth looking into as a family-friendly film everyone can love.

“His mane was like a crest, mounting, then falling low. His neck was long and slender, and arched to the small, savagely beautiful head. The head was that of the wildest of all wild creatures- a stallion born wild- and it was beautiful, savage, splendid. A stallion with a wonderful physical perfection that matched his savage, ruthless spirit.”
― Walter Farley

The Island Stallion Races is an unusual offering by Walter Farley, his only science fiction novel. The story returns us to Azul Island, a tropical paradise with a hidden secret: Inside the ancient walls of this extinct volcano is tucked away the last outpost of the Spanish conquistadors where the descendants of their powerful steeds still roam. Young Steve Duncan and his scholarly friend Pitch have discovered the secret of Azul Island and Steve has befriended the mighty stallion Flame who guards his herd and keeps them safe.

Pitch is called away while the pair study the ruins left by the Spaniards on the island and Steve is delighted to have more time with his favorite horse, a fire red steed that he longs to race so he can show off Flame’s speed and grace to the world. Alas, it is not to be. Flame has no pedigree or papers. He is barred from racetracks due to this defect.

Enter a pair of supposed “Eastern American Business Men” who are anything but. Jay and Flick arrive on the island via unconventional means: An intergalactic spaceship. They have unusual talents such as transforming into birds when they wish. Their mission is to watch over the invisible spaceship that has been parked on the remote island while their colleagues Victor and Julian are off studying human culture.

Jay would like to do more than simply study humanity. He has watched the beautiful horses of Azul Island for a long time and is interested in experiencing horse racing for himself. He concocts a plan to take Flame and Steve to Havana, Cuba via their invisible spaceship and enter the Island Stallion in the Grand International horse race.

Does the Island stallion have what it takes to beat the best race horses on the planet? Will Steve overcome his fear of the aliens in order to pursue his dream of being Flame’s rider in a major racing event? Will Jay the intergalactic alien get away with his reckless behavior or will his comrades leave him behind when it is time for them to depart Earth?

You’ll have to read the adventure to find out.

The Island Stallion Races Book CoverOne of my favorite series, when I was a pre-teen were the Black Stallion novels by Walter Farley. I had quite the crush on young Alec Ramsey and identified with his love of horses since I had a similar love for my own horse at that age. The Black Stallion novels are quite famous.  The series is being continued by Farley’s son Steve Farley to this day.

There is a second series of books written by Farley featuring another mighty horse. There are only five novels in the series about Flame the Island Stallion and his rider, Steve Duncan.  Each one a well written YA adventure featuring a beautiful steed and the boy who loves him.

Although the Island Stallion books were written at the same time as the Black Stallion books, I put off reading them. I loved the Black and Alec so much, I felt a sense of youthful disloyalty to read about this other horse. Much to my surprise, when I finally gave in to my curiosity, I found that I enjoyed these books as much, if not more than the original Black Stallion books.

Azul Island, a walled paradise tucked away in the tropics and home to the beautiful equine descendants of the conquistador warhorses tickled my fancy with delight. Then, there was a second easter egg. The Island Stallion Races featured aliens from another world and their nefarious mission: horseracing! To my disappointment, the author never continued his science fiction ideas and this single offering is his only sci-fi novel. The storyline was enough to make this particular Walter Farley book one of my favorites. (Sorry Alec)

I would love to see the Island Stallion stories made into movies as the Black Stallion books were. The stories are every bit as compelling as the more famous works by Walter Farley. If you are looking for science fiction in an unexpected place, give The Island Stallion Races a try. It is a family-friendly book that will make you and your horse-loving child smile.

The Island Stallion Series:

The Island Stallion (1948)
The Island Stallion’s Fury (1951)
The Island Stallion Races (1955)
The Black Stallion and Flame (1960)
The Black Stallion Challenged (1964)