Interview with Children's Author Camille Matthews
Joining me today is Camille Matthews, author of Quincy Moves to the Desert. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 5-9. It is always fun to hear about other writers and about their inspiration.
Thank you for joining us today, Camille. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Lexington, KY. I am a life long equestrian and it is not surprising that I write about horses. I have also been a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for many years and am certified to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The real Quincy is now a 20 year old Quarterhorse who is a therapy horse in my program. We live in Reading PA.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I loved writing as a child and teen, but I changed directions in college and grad school and became a clinical social worker. I have done a good bit of technical writing in my professional role but never from a creative perspective. About 8 years ago I had the idea for the Quincy the Horse Books and it grew into a series of 4 books. The first two, Quincy Finds A New Home and Quincy Moves to the Desert have been published.
Why did you decide to write for children?
Quincy is a real horse and the stories were inspired by adventures he had early in his life. They are reminiscent of everyday challenges that children face. I sensed that Quincy was a character they would relate to and bond with. Another factor was that I began to write the books during a period when I was taking care of my elderly mother who was ill, and I was more in touch with memories of my own childhood.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I would say it is different. The two main differences are that there are fewer words and there are pictures. At times writing the text is like writing poetry where every word has to count and there is a rhythm. I specifically wanted to create a picture book because my goal was not just to tell the story but to create a world that children could enter and experience. I believe the melodic style and the vibrant artwork are what make the books special.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
My work as a therapist has given me a lot of insight into what children feel and need, and I have always had a good rapport with them. I like the feeling that I am providing them with a role model in Quincy’s adventures. Quincy is an observer of the world around him. He tries to solve problems by struggling to get outside of his comfort zone and learn new things. He is able to do this because he has a mentor in Beau, an old horse who is his best friend. He is also motivated and comforted by his love for his owner. I hope to convey that it is ok to have feelings and to ask for help with problems because I think this is an incredibly important coping skill for children to have.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Quincy Moves to the Desert is the second book in the Quincy the Horse series. In this story Quincy goes on a BIG TRIP. He has doubts about the journey at first but his trusted friend, Beau, explains that in the West they will find “Trails as far as a horse can see.” Before he knows it, Quincy is soaking up the sights. He discovers different parts of the US and all the jobs horses do in different places. Quincy even begins to dream about his own possibilities and wonder what kind of horse he is and what job he will find in the desert. It is a story of self-discovery.
What inspired you to write it?
In 1998 I made a life-changing move to New Mexico from upstate New York where I had lived for many years. The real Quincy made that move with me. Those events gave me the initial idea. At first it was more of a travel story. In the middle of my writing the story, Quincy began to dream about his own possibilities and the issue of self-discovery became more central. As with many authors, I find that characters have minds of their own.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many independent bookstores. The Quincy the Horse Books are also in public libraries. If a library does not have it, I hope readers will ask the librarian to order it.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Our website http://www.quincythehorse.com/ has lots of information about the two books in the series and pictures of selected illustrations. It is also possible to order a copy on the website. Kids can even meet the real Quincy on the Kids’ Page.
I have a blog called Pathfinder Pursuits and it is a good place to see all the things I am interested in and learn more about me. The address is Pathfinderpursuits.wordpress.com and I always love new subscribers.
What is up next for you?
The third and fourth books in the series are in the pipe line. The third book in the series is called Quincy and Buck. It is about Quincy’s fear of trail riding alone in the desert. Beau advises him to get out there anyway and practice not being afraid. He has the idea of following in the footsteps of Buck, an experienced trail horse. Unfortunately Buck does not like Quincy and turns out to be a bully as well.
Do you have anything else to add?
I have a creative writing project called Build A Book that involves 2nd and 3rd graders joining into writer/illustrator teams and writing, illustrating and designing their own children’s picture book. Teachers like it because it involves the use of language arts, fines arts and computer resources and collaboration among the classroom teachers and specialists. If a classroom teacher decides to use it, I can often come and begin the project with a reading of my books. A more detailed description is available on the website and I can be reached through the website contact if there are any questions.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Camille. We wish you much success.