Wednesday, May 5, 2010
"Dixie Dust Rumors" Author Jenny Storm
Dixie Dust Rumors by Jenny Storm is a ya horse racing mystery hitting the digital market this month. Here's a synopsis:
Who is luckier than a young girl whose father trains race horses? Twelve-year-old Rose Olen loves her life as the daughter of a racehorse trainer -- until allegations of impropriety by a journalist throw her father’s career and Rose’s reputation at school in jeopardy. DIXIE DUST RUMORS, the debut YA mystery under the Jenny Storm name, releases from eTreasures Publishing (www.etreasurespublishing.com) early this summer. With an intelligent, inventive heroine determined to save her father’s reputation, this fast-paced mystery set against the fascinating backdrop of thoroughbred racing is a perfect choice for middle-grade readers. Rose and her friends also have to deal with the snobbish kids from school, her younger brother’s repeated trips to the principal’s office, vandalism to the property, vindictive rumors against the family, and worry about whether or not they’ll be invited to the upcoming dance.
Jenny Storm has covered horse racing for ten years, which appears under the Devon Ellington name. She publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction, and her plays are produced all over the world. She has a special fondness for horse-related charities, including New York Horse Rescue (www.nyhr.org), who will receive a portion of royalties from DIXIE DUST RUMORS.
Q & A with Jenny Storm about DIXIE DUST RUMORS
Question: What was the inspiration for this book?
JS: Several years ago, an excellent jockey was accused of impropriety in a big race by a so-called journalist with only two published articles to his name. It was ridiculous and infuriating, a way for this pseudo-journalist to get attention during a prominent race. Any four-year-old could see there was nothing to the story. The racing community investigated, as they must, and the jockey was cleared. But the days and weeks during the investigation gave the vindictive ample opportunity to unfairly malign the horse, the jockey, the trainer, the owners, etc. The situation made me angry. I’d wanted to write a YA set against horse racing, and I started playing the “what if?” game. The story came together very quickly, although, as it developed, it unfolded very differently than what inspired it. Which is as it should be -- I’m writing fiction!
Question: Are the characters based on real people?
JS: No. They’re very much their own people. There are certain professional tendencies I put in, but no one person is the root of a specific character. Even when a specific person is the inspiration, in some of my other work, when I do my job properly, they evolve into individuals very different from the inspiration. That’s part of being a writer -- letting your characters be who they are, not trying to force them into being a cipher for an idea, or keeping them in the mold of real people. If you want to write about real people, then write non-fiction.
Question: Do you spend a lot of time at the racetrack?
JS: Not as much as I’d like. I get out there several times a season on normal race days, and I’ve covered the Triple Crown for ten years and the Breeders’ Cup for nine years. At the period I researched this book and several other pieces in which racing appears, I went to the track at least once a week, sometimes more.
Question: Why do you like horse racing?
JS: It’s artistic. It’s poetry in motion. There’s so much beauty involved. These animals are huge -- over a thousand pounds. And they’re so fragile. No matter how many horses you encounter, thousands of them, each horse has its distinct personality. Every horse has to be trained as an individual, and yet conform to industry standards. They’re pack animals, yet they have to stand out from the pack in order to win.
Question: But there’s so much controversy about the sport. People claim it’s cruel, the horses are abused, etc., etc.
JS: There are problems in the sport. Every time a horse breaks down, it’s a horrible loss. Think Eight Belles, who broke down just over the finish line after coming in second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Think Barbaro -- he had thousands of people rooting for him all over the world. Think Spook Express, one of my all-time favorite horses who suffered a horrible accident and died in what would have been her last race. Eight Belles’s death sparked the beginning of some real change in the industry. There’s more to be done, as far as regulating and banning medications, making surfaces safer, etc. And there’s the dark side that most people never see: The foals born because mares are kept pregnant all the time and their urine collected for hormone replacement therapy. The mares-in-foal sent to slaughter because they’re not thought to be worth enough to keep alive. The retired or injured horses sent to slaughter because they no longer earn their keep. That’s where the network of rescue organizations, such as New York Horse Rescue come in, and why their work is so important. I think it’s important not to shy away from the dark side of the industry, especially in fiction. I deal with it in several pieces (under various names) and will continue so to do. One can tell a lot of truth in a fictional context, and help people see things in a new way.
Question: What else are you working on?
JS: For children and young adults? Plenty! I’m nearly done with another YA, stylistically similar to DIXIE DUST RUMORS, but with the backdrop of ice hockey, and I’m playing with some characters who are interested in sailing, rowing, archery, fencing. I tend to prefer sports that are a little more uncommon than baseball, etc. I’ve got a couple of ghost stories in the works, and some mysteries is a nod to the fiction mentioned above -- spooky houses, dark woods, scary lakes - that kind of thing, and some pieces that are more fantasy-based.
Question: Will be see more of Rose Olen and her friends?
JS: The book was conceived as a stand-alone, but if there’s enough enthusiasm, I bet I could come up with a few more adventures for Rose and friends! I’d love to take them to Saratoga or Scotland, or one of the other locations mentioned in the book and keep the racing backdrop.
Question: How about Justin? Will we see more of Justin?
JS: (with a grin): If you ask nicely!
Visit the Jenny Storm webpage at http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/jennystorm.html and “friend” Jenny on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/jennystormya