Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Interview: Anita Daher, Author of Wonder Horse

Today we are joined by Anita Daher, author of the YA contemporary novel, Wonder Horse. Check it out!

Wonder Horse by Anita Daher
Publication Date: May 8, 2015
Publisher: Rebelight Publishing

Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.

An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.



Hi Anita! Welcome to We Do Write. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! Thank you for inviting me to join you. Me? Since very young I have wanted to tell stories. For many years I talked myself out of it, told myself I could never be good enough. But then, one day shortly after my 30th birthday, that niggling, negative voice suddenly, mysteriously, without fanfare and without my even noticing, went away. “I can’t” was replaced by “I can,” and so I began writing with the intent to be published. Most recently I’ve discovered another love, another way to tell stories. I’ve taken up acting, and love to inhabit character on stage, and on screen. Because I am new at it, I’ve been working very hard, taking classes, auditioning, and have begun to land roles. Though acting occupies a good amount of my time, it doesn’t interfere with my writing of books. Rather, it invigorates my creative process. I feel it is important to stay excited and engaged—to take great big bites out of life. 

How did the idea of WONDER HORSE come to you?

Wonder Horse was inspired by the real life relationship between my daughter, Sara, and her horse, Wager.  When I was a kid I read every horse story I could get my hands on. I was absolutely horse MAD! But horses and riding were vacation trail rides, and not part of my everyday. As an adult, after my daughter found her horse, and we were able to buy him for her, I knew I would eventually write a horse story, perhaps many horse stories. But, I never begin a novel until I am absolutely confident in my research. I spent a few years with Wager, grooming him, watching him, and, after my daughter grew older and developed other interests, riding him. Then, one day my agent asked me if I had any top-of-my head horse stories, Wonder Horse came to me almost fully formed. I should clarify, however, that though the horse in the story is just like the real life Wager, Sera is not Sara, and the story they move through is fiction. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A plotter! From time to time I have begun writing a character driven novel, leaving possibility as to what will happen, where my characters will go, wide open, but inevitably I panic and jot out a plan.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Staying focused! I am constantly distracted by a too-busy life (I have many interests!), and the lure of social media. I find I work best by setting a schedule, and when I sit down write using an Internet blocker program, and a timer.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

That is a great question…but I can’t think of any “must have.” I like a cup of tea, coffee, glass of water, bowl of jellybeans or cooked spinach with melted cheese, but I can certainly live without any of these, and do. I think…a window. Yes, even if I am looking far off at something in my mind’s eye, I like to turn toward a window and let my mind fly. 

What are you reading right now?

A play: The Elmwood Visitation by Carolyn Gray

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Astral projection

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?


Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ... 

Studying a scene

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My family—husband Jim, daughters Erin and Sara, my parents, my sisters—is my backbone, always, but for this novel in particular I am so grateful for Sara, the time we spent together as she worked with Wager, rode him, groomed him. These are the memories that brought this story to life. 

I am also grateful to Kurt Klimpke and Granny Grace at City View Stables, Wager’s first home, Wendy Robinson at WW Stables, where we moved him for training, Glenn Stewart who taught me so much about natural horsemanship, and all of the friends we’ve made within the horse world. 

From Rebelight Publishing: acquisitions editor Suzanne Costigan, story editor Deborah Froese, marketing goddess Melinda Friesen, and book designer Melanie Matheson. What a team! 

And of course, my agent, Marie Campbell, an exceptional woman and human being, who has become over the years, friend.


Anita Daher has been entrenched in the publishing industry since 1995, and is (thus far) author of fourteen books for children and teens. Aside from short stints as grave-plot seller, tour guide, and children’s party clown, she’s worked in aviation, publishing and broadcasting. When not word wrangling, she enjoys inhabiting characters on stage and screen.


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