I'm excited to interview my dear friend, Author Wanda Snow Porter. (From her site) I grew up on a small farm roaming the hills and riding horses along the California Coast, attended school in a nearby town, then married and stayed in this friendly community to raise a family.
I have two horses, Luis and Mick, and a cat named Smoocher. My love of animals, my experience as a horse trainer, and my passion for art and history led me to write stories for young people.
When I'm not writing, it's fun to photograph birds in my yard or help roundup cattle, watch cowboys rope and brand calves, and then have a barbecue.
Welcome, Wanda. Thanks for answering my questions.
INTERVIEW WITH WANDA
I had to share this photo of Wanda and her cat that looks so much like my Tiger.
Wanda: Dana Adobe was the home of Captain William G. Dana and his wife Maria Josefa Carrillo de Dana. The old adobe was built on Rancho Nipomo, a thirty-eight- thousand acre rancho granted to Captain Dana by Mexico in 1837. Dana docents do lots of things, but mainly we give house tours, and help school children experience what life was like on the rancho over 150 years ago. Besides learning about the people who lived there, the kids who visit the adobe make tortillas and adobe bricks, dance Mexican dances, learn about roping and branding cattle, and many other interesting things.
Bev: You asked me about my favorite horse, so do you have a favorite horse?
Wanda: I’ve ridden and trained horses most of my life. Some were fancy show horses, others ranch horses. Each had a unique personality and some quality I really loved. The two horses I ride now are completely different. My retired dressage horse, Luis, is dependable, but somewhat lazy. My younger horse, Mick, has a more flighty nature, but is a good cow horse. I love them both. We’ve gone on many adventures together.
Bev: What’s the story behind your historical children’s book Spurs for Jose?
Wanda: As a Dana docent, I enjoy talking about the vaqueros who lived and worked on the rancho. Captain Dana was lucky to have the help of Native Americans who made adobe bricks, candles and soap, wove blankets, herded the sheep, and roped and branded the cattle. Without them, Dana couldn’t have built a house or managed his rancho, nor would there have been a hide and tallow trade in California. In most of the books I’ve read, these hard working people are nameless, and usually referred to as Indians or vaqueros. This inspired me to write a poem and give the vaqueros names. When I began to write the poem, the name José Rodriquez entered my mind. I felt like he was telling me his story, and instead of a poem, I wrote a historical novel, Spurs for José.
Bev: Describe your writing day. When did you start writing? What was your motivation? Morning or evening person? Do you outline or let the story flow?
Wanda: When writing a story, I don’t outline. My stories develop in layers. I start with an idea, knowing where I want to go with the plot, write the first draft, getting to know the characters better, and then go back and fill in details. I love doing a job that requires me to read. However, I never planned to be a writer. When teaching horseback riding, I started to write a list of safety rules for my young students, but instead, decided a story would be more fun and make it more likely they’d remember to be cautious around horses. That short story ended up in an anthology titled, Along the Way: Our Unique Relationship With Horses. Published for the benefit of young dressage riders, my payment was one copy of the book. When it arrived in the mail, I opened the package, and my story was included with one written by the famous author, Jane Smiley, and the dressage expert, Charles De Kunffy. What a thrill. I was hooked on writing.
Bev: Where did you get the idea for your forthcoming book Remedy? (Great cover by the way.)
Wanda: I fell in love with donkeys when writing and illustrating three picture books about the burros who lived at Dana Adobe. They were such humble, loveable animals, and smart, too. Remedy started out as a short story with a different title, written for one of my riding students who owned a donkey, about a desert burro captured by the Bureau of Land Management and put up for adoption. Then sometime later, Tim McGrew’s character sprung into my mind, and that short story grew into a novel about a boy and a wild burro who have difficulty adjusting to their new home. I’m not sure when Whimsical Publications will be releasing Remedy, but it will be sometime this year.
Bev: Anything you’d like to add for your readers?
Wanda: I hope they enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
Bev: Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Wanda: At Whimsical Publications:
About the Books:
whacky grandma and enjoyed summer visits at the ranch backpacking and horseback riding with his grandpa. But now Grandpa is dead. And Tim and his dog, Tiny, are the only males in a house full of women. To top off his problems, Grandma adopts a wild burro from the Bureau of Land Management and expects him to train it. Tim hopes it’s true that Grandpa’s ghostly vibes still linger around the ranch, because he needs help taming the long-eared donkey with a noisy bray, and even more important, needs advice on how to get his parents back together.
Thanks again for visiting with us today, Wanda.
I highly recommend Spurs for Jose (which I reviewed awhile back) and look forward to reading Remedy when it comes out.