Monday, September 14, 2015

BOOK REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Born to Run by Ann Hunter


BLURB:

Alexandra Anderson is on the run from the law. 

When the thirteen-year-old orphan can run no further, she collapses at the gates of the prestigious racing and breeding farm, North Oak. Horse racing strikes a deep chord in her. She hears a higher calling in the jingle jangle of bit and stirrup and in the thunder of hooves on the turn for home. It tells her she has a place in the world. But when the racing headlines find her on the front of every sports page, she realizes North Oak is no longer a safe haven. 

Money can't buy love, but it just might secure Alex's future. Will everyone at North Oak still want to offer her a home when they learn of her unspeakable crime? 

REVIEW BY: Angel, age 12 years, 10 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

This book is astonishing! It had me on the edge with every page I turned! 

This book is about Alex Anderson, a 13-year-old girl with a horrible life at a foster home. Alex always has had a big heart for her best friend, Ashley, but something goes wrong with her foster mom which ends up with her foster mom and Ashley dead. When Alex starts running from the law, she ends up at North Oak where there are horses, secrets and love. Alex was born to run! 

I normally don't like horse novels but Ms. Hunter really pulled off everything that should be in a horse novel and more! 

My favorite part is the vey end when Alex comes home, really home! Even though I barely know Ashley and Alex, they are my favorite characters by far. 

I recommend this book to adventurous horse readers! 

I give this book 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 and up. 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Conducted by Angel

1. What was your first piece of writing? What is it about? I would love to review any of your other books for you. 

I clearly remember my first story in first grade, about a rabbit pulling a carrot out of the ground with a vivid POP! I even drew the popping like a super hero action word. I don't know if you would count that as my first official thing. I was first published at age twelve with a story my English teacher flunked. My reading teacher noticed I was really down, and when I told him what had happened, he took my story and showed it to the librarian, who then showed it to another English teacher who happened to be a bestselling author. She took me under her wing, showed the principal my work, and that's how it all got started. The flunked story went on to win local awards and accolades, and I was removed from the class where I was flunked. 

The teacher apologized to me when the story blew up. 

2. What character did you enjoy creating the most?

Alex has always been very special to me, but I do have a major girl/author crush on Aowyn in Moonlight, and Ros from Fallen/A Piece of Sky. I love writing strong heroines who can set an example to girls in the real world, and are unafraid to be themselves. 

3. What books inspired or helped you to create Born to Run?

Definitely the Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell. I read the series when I was a kid, and now I read them to my daughters. I even poke fun at them in North Oak, but it's definitely a nod to Joanna and the other writers who helped Thoroughbred endure.

4. Do you have a favorite place where you write for inspiration (i.e. couch, office, park, etc.)?

Oddly, I go all introverted when I write. I lock myself in my bedroom, in the dark, and write. I struggle with ADD, and I figure if I can't see anything except the computer screen, then I can't be distracted by it. Sometimes I'll put my headphones on and listen to ambient water (like a forest stream or lake) to really zone out.

5. How many more books will be a part of this series?

When I wrote the original series as a teenager, there were 20 books. The series has gone through a number of incarnations, but there's always at least 20 books. I hope you're looking forward to a long and exciting adventure!

6. When did you first start writing this book? 

This version of this book was started... 2009? But it wasn't until this year that I really buckled down and fleshed it out. The first book in the original series was penned in 1994.

7. What was your first piece that was published?

Remember that flunked story we talked about in question 1? It was called The Dragon Horse. It's out of print. As a professional author, The Subtle Beauty was first. It's perma-free on amazon, and will be getting revamped and re-released in 2016.

8. Why did you name the horse farm, North Oak?

I can't even remember anymore. I named it that when I was 12. I'll be 33 in a few weeks. I think because I named the villain Mr. North, and there was an oak on the property? Or it could have been based off where I took riding lessons in the summer - White Oak Farm.

9. Who inspired you to start writing?

Myself. Because of ADD, I struggled through school. This included remembering assignments. I had one that was very late in fourth grade, and it was writing a story. When I finally did it, the words sort of exploded from me. My brain went faster than my hand could keep up with, and when they finally jived, it's like my hand did it all of its own volition. Like I had no control over it. Much of my writing continued like that through my teens. I loved the feeling of being this open vessel for worlds and voices, and just letting the story come out all by itself. Even now, I consider myself just a vassal. I listen to those still, small whisperings, and write down what I "see" and what they say. 

I worry that sounds a little schizo, lol.

10. Why did you write a novel about horses?

My parents bred Arabians when I was little, so my love of horses sprouted there. It makes sense to do what you love. So I write about the things that excite me. Horses and racing is right on that line.

11. What horse is your favorite in the book? Do you have a favorite horse in real life?

Wow, that's a great question. I don't think anyone has ever asked that before. I love them all for different reasons, even the ones you haven't read about/met yet. Venus Galaxies' first foal plays a pretty important part in Alex's life through the arc of the series, so I'm going to go with that one.

There have been two special horses in my life that I've had that hallowed connection with. They gave me courage, let me be myself. Wonderful, beautiful teachers. And neither of them belonged to me. Lesson mares, both of them. One was a Missouri Foxtrotter named Magic. The other, an Arabian named Sasjia. Magic would follow me around, and Sasjia would play chicken with me. 

12. What do you think about our blog?

I'm so grateful for your blog and others like it. You put so much work into it, and helping authors out. Thank you!

13. What do you think about our reviews?

Reviews are so important to authors, so the fact that you do them - and do them well - means so much to us. Thanks again. <3

14. Any advice for young writers?

In the words of Winston Churchill: "Never, never, never give up!" 

Keep writing, especially if you love it. Hone it. It's a thing of beauty when you know you've given it your all.  (and I love talking with young writers, so feel free to hit me up on wattpad.com/annhunter82 if you have questions. I don't have a lot of time to give feedback on whole works, but I can look at a paragraph or two)

15. Any other interesting facts about you. 

I spent the first few years of my life barefoot and half naked with a herd of Arabian horses. I've electrocuted myself multiple times (one of them was a really cool ricochet involving a butter knife!). I've been asked if I was the secret agent on a flight. I'm a Hufflepuff. I suck at finding things! I love teenagers, and firmly believe I never grew up past age 14.  

To find out more about the series, there are a few fan lists dedicated to North Oak. The newsletter: http://eepurl.com/7Lch9 and Alex's twitter account: twitter.com/northoakseries


Book number 2, Yearling, will be released in October and can be found at: http://amzn.com/B010S2Y9C4

Thank you Ms. Hunter for the interview!