Clare Balding is not only a super-popular TV presenter who interviews the world’s top riders, she’s also a best-selling author who has written three awesome books about Charlie Bass and her racehorse Noble Warrior (Noddy). After winning the Derby, then being kidnapped and rescued, Noddy is back for a third exciting adventure in The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance – along with Charlie, of course!
What inspired you to write about Charlie and Noddy, and how did you come up with the characters and their names?
I wanted a heroine at the centre of my story who was a bit different from everyone else at school, and had a great relationship with horses. I chose Charlie as her name because that’s what I wanted to be called when I was young. I thought Noble Warrior was a rather fine name for a racehorse, but because horses have a nickname at home, I decided to call him Noddy for short.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Write notes wherever you go. Whether it’s about people or events or places, notice the details and write them down. Also, if you’re planning a story, try to have an idea of where it’s going before you start. Writing a bullet-point story arc or a narrative outline will help you do this.
What was the name of your first pony, and what were they like?
My first pony was a Shetland called Valkyrie. She had belonged to the Queen, who gave her to my parents for me to learn to ride on. She was small and round and furry. My favourite pony was called Frank. I honestly think he was my first true love. I’m not sure he felt the same about me, but I loved him all the more for his aloofness.
Will you write another book about Charlie and Noddy?
I think The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance is probably the last in this series. It feels as if we’ve reached a good point to stop. I have a writing project for next year which I think all those readers who like animals will enjoy. Then I want to work on a non-fiction book for younger readers about sport and how it can help us in everyday life.
Did you know? Clare rewrote her new book five times, and made big changes to the last chapter a week before it was printed!
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by all sorts of women who work hard and have achieved great things, including riders like Charlotte Dujardin and Piggy French. But the most important thing is that you keep motivating yourself.
Clare’s top three tips for budding writers
1. Take notes on everything, and when bad things happen, remember you can always turn it into a story. It can really help you process your thoughts and deal with disappointment.
2. Show, don’t tell. There’s a difference between a story and an essay, so make sure you let the action flow, the characters speak and the dynamics of the story come out.
3. Don’t be afraid to rewrite. Like a sculptor chiselling away at a sculpture or a painter perfecting a work of art, you can change and polish and perfect your writing. Show it to someone you trust for constructive feedback.
Order your copy of Clare’s latest books here.