Spurred on by a love of horse racing and writing, Lucy Johnson, who lives in Modbury, South Devon and works in PR, has penned her first children’s novel, Pony Racer, which has been published by Forelock Books.
Lucy, who started out as a section editor at the Western Morning News before branching out into PR, said a search for a children’s novel centred on racing for her eight-year-old son Toby proved fruitless so she decided to write her own book.
“I scribbled down a few chapters as the idea about a central character called Tom and his bond with a pony called Leo started to evolve,” says Lucy.
“It was partly because I wanted to write something that might ignite Toby’s passion to get stuck into a good book. I love reading, he’s more passionate about his iPad and Minecraft but I involved him in the whole process to try and get him excited about reading and to understand books are at the very heart of everything. He can’t wait to go galloping flat out across the moors now and I am now proud to say that sometimes, he’ll favour a book over his iPad!”
The book centres on nine-year-old Tom who strikes up a bond with a pony called Leo when he goes to live with the Heaven family.
“It portrays the passion for riding and the sense of freedom that can only come from riding at speed,” says Lucy.
Troubled after a difficult start in life, it is Tom’s affection for Leo, and the unconditional love and support from the Heavens that gives him hope and confidence. He discovers he is fearless, determined, and surrounded by people who recognise his skills as a horseman. Tom holds on to a dream that one day he’ll be good enough to ride Leo in a pony race and take the first step towards becoming a jockey.
“I’d like to think it’s a page turner, with lots of descriptions about the feeling of riding at speed, all gleaned from my own experience in point-to-points, and training a few point-to-point winners,” says Lucy who adds. “I grew up with shelves groaning under the weight of books and would read every night into the small hours, dreaming of galloping along beaches, jumping five bar gates, and winning rosettes.
“Books were always an escape, a place to dream and imagine. When I wasn’t messing about with my own pony, disappearing for hours on end on up on the moors or in the woods with my gang of pony-owning friends, I’d be reading, the words of the writer fuelling my imagination even further.
Lucy also hopes that children of all ages who are tempted to read the book might at least try a day at the races. “Horseracing and those involved in it are part of an incredible all-encompassing sport that appeals across the generations,” she says. “It’s such a great industry to become involved in with whether as a hobby or a career. Racecourse family days as well as BHEST’s brilliant Racing To School initiative are both terrific ways to introduce children.”
Pony Racer by Lucy Johnson is available from Forelock Books www.forelock-books.co.uk
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The Western Morning News published 5 MINUTES: Children’s equestrian author Lucy Johnson on 24th April