‘Everybody has a book in them…’

There’s a well-known expression: ‘Everybody has a book in them’ – something that I always end up saying when I’m asked how on earth you decide to write a book!

I say this because I came to be a writer in a round-about way, almost by accident really. I didn’t know I could be a writer, and I definitely didn’t know I had a book in me. I was 25, and in my first job as an editorial assistant (aka coffee-maker and chief photo-copier) at a well-known publishing house. They were looking for someone who could write horse books so I thought I would give it a go. And it turned out that I did have a book in me, or rather 7 books in me! Sandy Lane Stables came into being. Here’s the cover of the first one, A Horse for the Summer, when it was first published nearly 17 years ago!

Knowing about horses definitely helped me write these books – I was pony crazy as a girl as you can see from this photo (excuse the dodgy hair style!) – but I was also willing to have a go at anything. And so, there you are, my life’s work – the books I had in me weren’t about feelings or family or work, or any of the things you might have expected from a 25 year-old but about our four-legged friends. And yet I’ve always been very proud of these books. It felt quite an achievement to me to have sat down and written anything at all, let alone something that somebody wanted to publish! They’re still in print now (albeit with new covers). Here’s a picture of A Horse for the Summer as it is today. Very different from the earlier version, hey?

Last year saw me returning to the fold as  a writer, having worked for many years as an editor. Starting to write again made me see things in a new light – perhaps there was more than one book in me. My new series (a collaboration with Linda Chapman, the genius of series fiction) is about dinosaurs. I won’t go into too much detail here as they’re for young readers but you get the gist from the covers (about as unhorsey as you can get!)

It made me realise that you don’t actually need to write about what you know as long as you write about what you like. Which often means a whole load of research. Especially if you don’t know a thing about the subject! Dinosaur Land involved lots of background reading and multiple trips to the Natural History Museum. Everyone does indeed have a book in them – or 2, or 3 or 4. It’s just about having the courage to write it. The next series I am working on (another collaboration) is about something I know very little about. I feel a road trip coming on! Let me know the things you might like to write about – even if you know absolutely NOTHING about them at all!

32 thoughts on “‘Everybody has a book in them…’

  1. Hi Michelle. Great post! It’s true that you often don’t know what you can do until you try. The Sandy Lane books are brilliant – it’s incredible they’re still in print after all this time. And it’s absolutely true that you don’t have to write about what you know as long as you are writing about something you like. I knew very little about ice-skating when I started writing my Skating School series but I’ve always loved watching ice skating on TV and having fun on the ice. It was great to do all the research and write the books. Lxx

    • Thanks LC! Glad you agree. Who knows where this could lead us. The wilds of Patagonia, or the Arctic Circle? Or perhaps just Leicestershire and London! Already looking forward to our next project! x

  2. Hi Michelle,

    Welcome to Girls Heart Books. Fab post and it’s very true everyone does have at least one book in them.

    Can’t wait to hear what your new series is about. I’m intrigued!


  3. Morning Michelle! I’m Laura, welcome to our GirlsHeartBooks family! 🙂

    I’m (hopefully) getting the Sandy Lane Stables books soon! 🙂

    I talk to Linda in emails and she says wonderful things about you, i’m sure your awsome too, just like her! x

  4. I really would love to write about horses! I don’t ride regularly or anything, but I think they’re beautiful and I have gone horse-riding on holidays a couple of times and it was really fun! And I love reading books about horses! And boarding schools. I always wanted to go to a boarding school, and such exciting things seem to happen there (in books anyway)!

      • Thanks for the welcome, Cliona! And also for letting me know what you would write about. I’m actually working on some boarding school books at the moment. They’re coming out with Simon and Schuster next year. I never went to boarding school myself, so it’s another thing I need to research! x

  5. I like reading about normal things, about families or books that are just like diaries. But I like writing stories that are quite normal. but with a little bit of magic! Great post, hope you keep blogging on Girls Heart Books!

    Niamh x

  6. Hi Michella
    Its fantastic that you’re joining our little community!
    And what a great post to start off with!
    I look forward to reading your books really soon.
    Did you always want to be a writer?

    • Hi Orli
      Thanks for your post! I think I probably did always know that I wanted to be a writer, although I didn’t know it at the time, if that makes any sense? When I was little I used to write my own stories (always about horses). I thought that everyone did this kind of thing, but it turns out that not everyone does! See you here again soon! x

  7. I hope I have a book in me! Some day I want to be an author and illustrator, and though I’d love to write for younger readers (I can still remember reading your books when I was little!) I also want to write for teens and preteens like me. Hopefully I’ll manage to be a future GHB author!!!

  8. Hi Georgie,
    I love the fact that you remember my books from when you were little. That means a lot to me! A book can live inside you forever, in my opinion. I can still remember all the books that I read when I was a child. I hope that one day I will be reading your GHB blog. I have a feeling that I will! x

  9. Great post, Michelle – and great picture! Is that a rosette you won? Very excited to read your boarding school stories – I hope the children will be able to keep pets there. That would be my ideal boarding school!

    • Hi Susannah,
      It’s so long ago that I can’t remember if I won a rosette or not! I guess I must have done if it’s pinned to the pony’s bridle. Doesn’t look like a red one though! Mx

  10. That is great advice Michelle! I’m hoping to start doing a bit of writing now and again if I have time. I was just at Tim’s speech group today and their subject was ‘what was your earliest memory’ – and one of the answers sparked off a little idea in my head. You never know when a good idea is going to strike!

  11. Hi Michelle-welcome to Girls Heart Books!

    I live the “everyone has a book in them” idea!

    I like writing stories that are about fantasy and thriller-and I love reading those types of books! I also love horse books-because I love horses!

    Great post!

    • Thanks Hikma! And also for taking the time to post, Hikma. I love a good thriller too. I hope I’ll read yours one day! x

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