Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with Bev Pettersen, author of A Pony for Christmas: A Montana Holiday Novella
FQ: Do most of your books take place in northern states like Montana?
PETTERSEN: I’ve written another short story with a Montana setting (cold and blustery) and a longer novel based in Alberta, Canada. But some of my other books were based in southern states like Florida and California. As long as there’s a horse setting that I know and love, I’m inspired!
FQ: When you were writing this book how did you work to make it unique from other “pony for Christmas” stories?
PETTERSEN: I had just finished writing a longer romantic mystery novel when my five year-old niece told me about her expectations for Santa that year. I couldn’t forget her hopeful innocence so had to shift gears and write this novella. I wasn’t thinking of other Christmas books, just this story that quickly filled my thoughts.
FQ: Do your own memories and experiences with horses find their way into your books?
PETTERSEN: Absolutely! I always wanted a pony, for Christmas and every other day. When I was little, I hid a box in the family bathroom, asking visitors to donate money for my pony in exchange for toilet paper. I’ll never forget one kind gentleman who left a generous sum. That helped buy my first horse...seven years later.
FQ: While the book is aimed at young children, as an adult, I found it a fun read. Was it intentional to make it readable by such a wide range of readers?
PETTERSEN: I didn’t set out to write a children’s book. My eight other books are romantic mysteries. But writing from a young girl’s perspective gave a primary story which seems to have provided this novella with a wider appeal. I was surprised and honored at its reception.
FQ: What are the advantages in your opinion in writing from a child’s point of view?
PETTERSEN: Writing as a five-year-old let me slip into Suzy’s mind and really see the world through her eyes. Children feel so intensely, it was exciting to show her highs and lows and her utter disappointment that bleak Christmas morning.
FQ: Are there any disadvantages or difficulties that you found with choosing this point of view?
PETTERSEN: Suzy’s mother was a struggling widow who caught the interest of a prosperous rancher while Suzy was oblivious to their blossoming romance. It was a little challenging to slide in subtle hints, things that wouldn’t be picked up by younger readers but might be appreciated by adults.
FQ: How do you decide how long a novel should be for it to still be interesting for adults but not overwhelming for children?
PETTERSEN: Children are amazing. They can read almost any length if they find it interesting. And the story naturally played out to its proper length.
FQ: Did you consider writing from more than one perspective for this book?
PETTERSEN: No, this story was best told from Suzy’s perspective. She was such a kind and determined little girl so it was refreshing to show her view of Christmas and her utter faith in Santa.