I had the honor of meeting young adult author MJ Evans at the Equus Film Festival. We very quickly hit it off and she quickly became one of my favorite people ever. I’m planning a trip to visit her in Colorado!
As a Christmas gift, I bought my daughter the entire “Mist” trilogy, which she has been loving. I am waiting for her to finish so it can be my turn. But I have read, “In the Heart of a Mustang” and frankly it moved me so much. I quickly became entrenched in Hunter’s store and felt the intense connection between him and his mustang mare. Horses have a way of healing our hearts and our minds. Read more about MJ and her amazing books in our interview below.
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About author MJ Evans
Q: What is your relationship with horses?
A: I was born a very long time ago with manure in my blood! As a horse-lover born to a non-horse family, I was like a square peg in a round hole. My parents eventually realized that I wasn’t going to grow out of it as so many horse-crazy girls do. So, when I turned eight, they let me start taking riding lessons once a week. By the time I was ten, I was taking two lessons a month. When I turned thirteen, I bought my own horse with my own money and had to support him myself. He was a beautiful, dapple gray, 2 and ½ year old Arab. If my parents had known anything about horses, they would never have allowed it! But they didn’t so I bought him. I joined a pony club and trained him by moving up the Pony Club levels. He was the best horse and took such good care of me! I kept that horse until I got married but I told my husband that when the last child went to first grade, I was getting a horse again. I didn’t keep my promise…when the last child went to first grade, I bought TWO horses! I am focusing on Dressage, currently working on Pre St. George. I also do a lot of trail riding in the Colorado mountains and have written three Equestrian Trail Guide books for Colorado.
Q: Why did you choose to write horse books?
A: The only books I read as a child were horse books and whenever I would write a story as a child, it was always a horse story. So, of course I write about horses or horse-fantasy characters…is there anything else worth writing about?
Q: How long have you been an author?
A: I have been writing professionally for fourteen years.
Q: Do you prefer eBooks or Physical copies?
A: PHYSICAL COPIES!!!! I spend enough time staring at a computer screen writing. I love the tactile sense of holding and smelling a book. Plus, I love to read in a bubble bath!
Q: What is your favorite motivational quote?
A: Actually I have a lot of them but one that I love is one that I used in my book, “In the Heart of a Mustang.” I don’t know where it came from.
“Life isn’t fair for anyone. That’s what makes it fair.”
I think I’ll answer these questions in relation to In the Heart of a Mustang since I referenced it above.
Q: What was your inspiration for this book?
A: For 2 and ½ years I worked for PATH Int., the Professional association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. My heart was constantly touched by the wonderful stories I heard and witnessed of horses as healers. But, I also learned that the PATH instructors don’t just work with disabled children and adults. They also work with veterans and at-risk youth. It was this last group, when I saw how the troubled teens responded to horses, that I was motivated to set aside my fantasy stories and write this book.
Q: How did you research your novel?
A: This book involved a lot of research. I had already learned a lot while working at PATH about the therapeutic value of horses. I began researching the wild mustang bands in the ten western states that are managed by the BLM. I was amazed to learn how over-populated the land has become. I learned that there are more than 40,000 mustangs waiting for adoption! I learned that a band (herd) can double in size in just 4 years! I also learned that there is a lot of controversy about how the horses are managed.
Next, I researched horse training. I attended two 3-day Clinton Anderson clinics where he was teaching how to start a new horse. Lastly, I sent all the chapters involving the counselor to a real counselor to get his feedback.
Q: What was your favorite chapter to write?
A: My favorite chapter to write was chapter 5 where I switch point of view from Hunter to the Mustang mare. It was fun to try to imagine how a wild horse would react to a helicopter round up.
Q: What is the central message of your book?
A: The message? “Life isn’t fair for anyone. That’s what makes it fair!” If anyone passes through life without difficult challenges, they haven’t really lived. We can choose our response to any problem. Like horses, we can choose to react or think.
Life isn’t fair for anyone. That’s what makes it fair!- MJ Evans Click To Tweet
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am back to writing fantasy and have just released the third book of a four-book series: The Centaur Chronicles. This series has already won numerous national and international awards and I am very excited about it and proud of it. The first book is The Stone of Mercy, the second is The Stone of Courage and the one that just came out on January 22, 2018 is The Stone of Integrity. This series is set in the land of the Centaurs!