Equestrian author Vivien Gorham was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing career and future books!
How much of your day/week is related to horses?
Every weekend I ride a half-blind former show hunter called Lukas. He is my equine soul mate, a sweet and gentle bay with a crooked stripe down his face. He gets excited when we jump (just like me!), and he always comes to greet me at his paddock gate. (Which I’m sure has nothing to do with the carrots, apples, and mints in my pocket!)
On weekdays I either research or write about horses and riding every day. Right now I’m working on another children’s horse novel, set at a horse camp in my home province of Nova Scotia, Canada.
What is it exactly that you do?
I am a full-time writer and author, as of last week! Before that, I worked in a medical library and wrote in my spare time. But now I get to spend my workdays doing what I love best – writing equestrian novels!
A typical day for me consists of getting up early and walking my dog, Niska, then writing, researching, and editing until about 3:00pm. After that I connect with my readers and other writers through email or social media. And if I’m in the midst of publishing, I’ll fit in working with my editor to polish the novel, and then working with my publicist to promote it, both before and after publication. It’s a busy and fulfilling profession!
In this field of work, is it possible to be a full-time professional and earning a liveable income?
I think it is possible to be a full-time equestrian writer and live off what you earn, but it takes a great deal of time, work, stamina, and dedication. Lots of support from fellow writers, editors, reviewers, and publishing professionals is important, and help from family and friends to get the word out makes a difference.
A little luck goes a long way too. So yes, it is possible to support yourself as an equestrian author, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort and keep working. I’m not there yet, but that is my goal!
What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
First, you have to write a top-notch, compelling book that lots of people will want to buy and read. This will require studying the art and craft of writing, completing multiple drafts of your story, tons of editing and revising (with help from trusted readers), and plenty of patience!
Then you have to research the market and get it published (either on your own or with a traditional publisher), and promote it to the widest possible audience through reviews, events, and online publicity. And you have to keep learning and writing more great books, challenging yourself to get better and better.
You can also supplement your income by writing shorter pieces like print or online magazine articles, or even editing or proofreading other writers’ books. (You may need extra training to do this.)
Favourite horse memory?
Oh, there are so many! Learning to jump at age 11 on my favourite school horse, a tall, handsome buckskin called Peanuts (still my favourite horse colour). Winning my first blue ribbon (first place in the United States, where I grew up) in dressage on Robin, a feisty strawberry roan mare. Watching the champion show jumper Peppermint Twist (who inspired the horse of the same name in my book Touch of Gold!) kick up her heels after clearing the scariest jumps in Open Jumper classes.
Working at the Circle 8 Guest Ranch in Montana one summer at age 19, spending my afternoons exploring the Rocky Mountains on my trusty sorrel (western for chestnut), Jackson. We ended that summer with a 3-day pack trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, definitely a highlight of my horseback riding career!
My future goals are to finish and publish my current children’s horse book, and write at least three more books: a sequel to Touch of Gold, a young adult novel set on a Rocky Mountain guest ranch (can’t resist that setting!), and an adult novel spanning the West, North, and East of Canada (lots of research required!).
Horses, of course, will feature prominently in all of these novels! I’m also working on ideas for an equestrian memoir and a short story about three sisters on a trail ride. (I’ve promised my two sisters it’s not necessarily about us!) Lots to keep me busy – and happy – for many years to come! Of course, my ultimate goal is simply to write books that readers will love and return to, the kind of books I’ve cherished throughout my life.
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The best thing about my favourite sport of horseback riding is having this amazing relationship with another animal, where you virtually become one being: moving, thinking and feeling together. It is incredibly special, and just so much fun!
And the best thing about writing and publishing a book is connecting with my readers. The greatest thrill for me is to receive a letter, email, Facebook post, or tweet from a reader or reviewer who has really enjoyed my book. So if you read my book Touch of Gold, or any future books of mine, please get in touch via my website, my Facebook profile, or my Twitter account (@viviengorham), and let me know what you think!
And if you feel like spreading the word by writing a review like this one of Touch of Gold (thank you, Equus-blog!) that would be terrific. Happy trails!