IHM: What sort of research did you do to write Midnight Magic?
ND: One of the first rules of writing is to “write what you know”. My protagonist, Mattie, experiences many of the same fears and desires that I did as a young teen, especially her passion for horses. I naturally drew on those memories when I created her. The horse in the story was inspired by my own little Morgan and my fascination with his breed. I had plenty of experience as a horse owner and equestrian to write factual and realistic descriptions of Mattie’s days working at the stable and participating in the horse show, but I did research the life of Justin Morgan, Figure, and the development of the Morgan breed.
IHM: Do you think YA literature has become over-sexed in recent years?
ND: Love and romance is a basic human need. It’s normal—and expected—to include a love interest in YA and tween literature, but I’m concerned about the message many YA books are giving our adolescents. I wish more authors would address the emotional aspects of “love” rather than focusing on the physical act. Yes, children have become sexually active at very young ages, but our literature shouldn’t imply that this is normal, desirable, or free from long term repercussions. It’s wrong—in my opinion—to encourage the belief that pre-teen and adolescent love is likely to last forever or that proof of love is demonstrated by the physical act.
In terms of the romantic storylines, I find it particularly frightening when the male “role model” is abusive and controlling, while the female character allows herself to be subjugated for the sake of their love. We need to empower young females and provide them with good role models, as I have done in Midnight Magic. Mattie’s mother and grandmother are strong women in their own right; they don’t rely on a male figure to “save” them.
IHM: Did you model your characters after real people? Did you model the plot on real events?
ND: All of the characters are purely fictional creations, but I borrowed physical or personality traits from people I’ve known—or wish I’d known. The storyline is pure fantasy, although Justin Morgan and Figure did exist. There is plenty of documentation about Figure’s amazing feats and incredible genes.
IHM: You write a column, “Tales from the NEIGH-borhood”, for local newspapers and have written both non-fiction and fiction books. What is your favorite style of writing?
ND: I prefer writing fiction because it allows for a freer flow of creativity. However, I do like to include some factual information as well, whether it’s about horse care—in the case of “Tales from the NEIGH-borhood” or historical information, as in Midnight Magic.
My first book, Quest for the Dress, was non-fiction, but it also contains humorous anecdotes about my experiences. Having a background in education, I guess I can’t stop myself from also trying to promote positive moral values, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction.
In the “Tales from the NEIGH-borhood”, each horse always learns something from the adventure he’s just shared. When Sonny spooked at the Christmas decorations on our front lawn and nearly squashed me in his attempt to run away, he learns that he should have trusted me to keep him safe. He advises his readers: “Tell your parents if something scares you, even if you feel silly. Trust me; it helps.”
You can purchase Midnight Magic at Amazon.