Interview with Toni Mari

Describe your desk
I have a corner desk in my bedroom sitting next to sliding glass doors that lead onto my deck. Beyond the deck are my horses. I can see them as they eat, graze and sunbathe. It is as close to being outside as I can get without being outside. I do have to admit to closing the curtains on that window when there is snow outside. I'm not a fan of snow, it makes more work out in the barn, it covers the ground making for a very boring day for horses who like to graze and it usually thwarts riding since I only have an outdoor arena. I resort to looking at the framed photos and paintings of horses I have hanging around the desk. But when the sun is shining right in on me, it inspires me and my fingers fly across the keyboard. The faster I get my allotted words in; the faster I can get out into that sunshine.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
When I was in middle school, my family moved from the suburbs to a small farm. We started collecting discarded animals, an old horse and pony being among them. I was hooked and my lifelong passion for horses began. The more I talked about my days with non horse people, the more I realized how exiting and different my routine day was. But it wasn't until I was a little older that I was able to focus those experiences into writing. I was too darn busy living the equestrian sports lifestyle. I love writing, but am easily distracted by a sunny day, a dirty barn or an unridden horse. It may take me longer than average to produce a novel, but I put my heart, soul and experience into it.
When did you first start writing?
I was always a reader and a writer. At the age of sixteen, I had a story about horses published in "Horse and Rider", a popular equine magazine. I received a free subscription and ten dollars. I was a published author! In the years between college and the first publication of "And We Danced", I wrote an article here and there for local publications. But life changes in my forties prompted me to sit and begin work on a novel. It is a unique experience for me, and it's not easy. The pictures in my head move along faster than the words to describe them come. But with my riding discipline behind me, I continue to learn new things, seek out professional help and redo until it comes out right.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I spent a lot of time teaching teenage girls with their horses. Neither animal is logical and they don't always do what is expected. I learned to work within their individual personalities, setting goals that were right for them and telling them to stop comparing themselves to others as everyone's relationship with their horse is different and every horse is different. Unless you have a horse, the relationship is hard to understand and I wanted to write a story that would portray that to people who haven't had the privilege to spend time with a horse. I also wanted those with horse experience to recognize and relate to some of the scenes built around the horse in the book.
Published 2015-03-25.
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