Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Pony Game Virtual Blog Tour

Welcome to Robyn Opie, author of The Pony Game.
Robyn has agreed to answer some inquisitive questions.

1. Was the title for this story always "The Pony Game", or was it a changed or last-minute choice?
The title was always "The Pony Game". I decided on it at the time of developing the idea, shortly after writing my non-fiction book "Looking After a Pony". I've had very few titles changed from my original ones.

2. Do you think the popularity of pony stories has changed since its heydey in the 1960s?

No. The books and stories have obviously changed with the times, but not the love of ponies/horses. I think children have the same interests, though technology has introduced many new ones. However, when I queried Era Publications with this story line, it was rejected as unsuitable for the US market. Apparently we have to write for urban US children and keeping ponies/horses is not for them. I was a little surprised as I thought the fascination with ponies/horses was universal. I think this rejection stemmed from the fact that the US publisher Era Publications works with wouldn't purchase my non-fiction book "Looking After a Pony". Therefore Era Publications were avoiding pony stories.

3. Part of "The Pony Game" is role-playing... Black Beauty is inserted into the role of "pony". This role/substitution is a surprisingly common habit with real-life children, but is not often addressed in children's books. Do you think your protagonist is a writer-to-be?

Yes, I think my protagonist is a writer-to-be. Me! After writing the story, I realised how much of my childhood was reflected in the story. I grew up in Port Pirie, a regional city in South Australia. Behind my house was a horse stable. I used to walk the long way home from school so I could visit the horses. I used to climb my back fence so I could look at the horses. For most of my life, I've had a dog - different ones, of course. When I was young, I played games with my dog "Boots". I even played the pony game. My favourite animal has always been the dog. My best friend at primary school was mad about horses. Put it all together and you have "The Pony Game". In a lot of ways the protagonist is me, growing up in Port Pirie.

4. I read somewhere that pony stories are the precursers (sp?) of light romance, with Pony in place of Handsome Hero. Comment?

I guess I can see that. Ponies/horses usually have that "handsome" look to them. And, of course, our Prince Charmings are supposed to ride on horseback and whisk us away to some glamorous life. I wasn't thinking of any of this when I wrote "The Pony Game". A confession - I tried writing romance many years ago. I prefer children's stories. So I'll stick to ponies/horses as the handsome heroes.

5. You did quite a lot of rewriting and restructuring on "The Pony Game". Did you feel this improved the story, or did you do it because that's what others wanted or suggested?

The story itself didn't change much. But I rewrote and restructured for different publishers. The first series I submitted to was Puffin's Aussie Nibbles and the word count had to be between 1,500 and 2,000. My second submission to Walker Books was a long short as I suspected the story would be too short for them. Third time is the charm, so they say. I rewrote the story up to around 2,500 for Lothian Books' Giggles series and it was accepted and released twelve months later. I believe this is the best version of the story. That may be because it's the version I'm most familiar with now. But I think the extra 600-700 words added to the depth and characterisation.

6. How do you classify The Pony Game's genre? It's certainly not the classical pony story, but would you call it "family", "animal", "problem" or just plain "story"?

The first time I saw "The Pony Game" in a bookstore it was under the heading "Classics". Great, I thought. It's a classic in its first month of release. "The Pony Game" was shelved with other horse stories under this general heading. If I was to classify "The Pony Game" I'd call it "animal". The protagonist's dog, Black Beauty, was the main focus for me, being a big dog lover. I was more interested in Lucy's relationship with her dog because, again, the story reflects me as a child.

Follow the tour!
For Day 1- Mon 10 Dec - visit Tina Marie Clark's What is Happening in my Office?
Day 2 - Tuesday 11 Dec, was with Claire at http://www.letshavewords.blogspot.com/
Day 3 - here at Spinning Pearls.
Day 4 - Thu 13 Dec - Jacqui Grantford at http://www.jacquigrantford.com/page3.html
Day 5 - Fri 14 Dec - Sally Murphy's Scribblings
Day 6 - Sat 15 Dec - Bren MacDibble's Beast of Moogill

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