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Interview: Camille Matthews, Author of ‘Quincy and Buck’

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Quincy and Camille Joining us today is Mom’s Choice Award-winning Camille Matthews, author of the children’s picture book Quincy and Buck, part of the   Quincy the Horse series.

Thank you for joining us today, Camille. Can you share who first introduced you to the love of reading?

 I was lucky enough to be born into a family of readers. My grandparents were teachers and my parents were avid readers. I had older cousins who lived in the family home with my grandparents and the shelves were full of all the old classics and many series like The Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins and Happy Hollisters. Whenever I visited I read them all over and over. At home I had my own books, mostly horse books.

Who is your favorite author and why?

It is hard to choose, but my favorite is probably Carson McCullers. I am a Southerner, and her books evoke those hot humid nights, the complicated family relationships, the familiar accents, etc. The Member of the Wedding is one of my favorite books.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

My favorite fictional character is Delores Price, the heroine of the Wally Lamb novel, She’s Come Undone. I love her persistence, her honesty and her wit. I love that she is a survivor. I love how much she has to teach about so many things that are important.

Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

My horses inspired the Quincy the Horse Books. I had done a lot of professional writing in my role as a clinical social worker but writing this series of children’s books has been an entirely new type of creative experience.

Why did you decide to write children’s books?

The year before I wrote the first of the Quincy Books I participated in a training to learn how to do Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. EAP works because the client observes, interacts and empathizes with the horse/s. In the midst of the training program I had the idea of creating a series of books for children about Quincy’s adventures because the things he experienced were things that children also face. I thought they would be able to identify with Quincy and therefore learn more about the world of relationships and their own feelings and problems. Having illustrations that were beautiful paintings of the horses was also part of my vision so that led to children’s picture books rather than chapter books.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part of writing for children is staying with the simplicity and resonance of the words as I express Quincy’s thoughts and feelings. Horses cannot actually speak in words, but they are great communicators, and they have that in common with kids. It is not a coincidence that we have the similar sayings, “Horses never lie,” and “Out of the mouth of babes.”

It is a challenge in children’s books not to get too wordy. In a children’s book, one has to find just the right word. It takes a great deal of polishing to be sure it has the meaning and sound that one is trying to convey. This was more important to me than referencing reading level because I am not trained in that area. So Quincy and Buck is a picture book but it appeals to 3rd and 4th graders as well as younger readers because it has a pretty involved plot and message.

What time of day do you get your best ideas?

I am definitely a morning person and get my best ideas in those early hours before everyone else is up and about. I wear out at night and just love to read mystery novels.

Cover Image Quincy and Buck Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

My new release is called Quincy and Buck. It is the third book in the Quincy the Horse series. In this book I tackle the problems of overcoming fear and dealing with a bully. Quincy dreams of trail riding in the desert near his home but he is afraid of meeting wild animals out on the trail. His friend, Beau, an old horse who has done everything, explains to him that he will never become brave if he stays home, so he goes on his first trail ride. He hopes to find a trail buddy who will guide him but the horse he chooses turns out to be a bully. Over the course of the ride, he discovers that he is more confident than he imagined and that Buck is afraid underneath his façade of strength. The story of the day’s ride, along with the illustrations, take kids into the desert of the Southwest which has breathtaking scenery.

What inspired you to write it?

The events of the day did actually take place and it seemed like a great adventure story that takes place in the desert Southwest, a locale I love. I wanted to capture all of that. Then as the drafts progressed, I saw important connections to the issue of bullying that children face today. I wanted to give young readers some ways to understand the dynamics of bullies and I wanted to create a starting point for parents and children to talk about these issues together.

Are any of the characters based off real people (if fiction)?

Yes. As I said, the series is based on the life of my horse Quincy. Buck is also a real horse. He is not really a bully, but he is not very friendly and likes to go his own way. He truly hates loud noises and motorbikes, but I had to modify the story a little. In real life, if Buck faced a motorbike he would dump his rider on the ground and gallop all the way back to the horse trailer by himself. That would not have fit the storyline!

Did anyone feel you didn’t capture them correctly or were unhappy about you sharing the story (if nonfiction/memoir)?

No.

Has getting published changed how people treat you?

People are just really excited and supportive and have lots of questions about the books and the process.

What is the one thing you didn’t expect now that you’re a published author?

I never expected that there would be so many changes in the publishing industry and book trade. It has been quite a learning curve. I have learned to go with the flow and try many new ideas. For example, along with the release of Quincy and Buck in hardcover, we have released the entire series on all ebook platforms.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Quincy and Buck is available everywhere that books are sold and in public libraries.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes. Our website is quincythehorse.com and my blog is pathfinderpursuits.com. We also have a great Facebook community at facebook.com/quincythehorse. I can be reached directly through the contact form on our website if anyone has specific questions or requests.

What is up next for you?

I have a busy schedule this spring that includes many equine venues. I also have lots of fun in the summer visiting horse day camps to do readings and talk with the kids about Quincy and his adventures.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope readers will also look for Quincy’s other adventures, Quincy Finds A New Home and Quincy Moves to the Desert. I would also like to thank you for the chance to be here.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Camille. We wish you much success.

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