Monday, April 18, 2016

Interview: Author Rebecca J. Hubbard

Please welcome Rebecca J. Hubbard, author of The Gifta novel about horses, friendship and patience. 

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself? 

I am a Texan. For some that says it all, for others it is an enigma! I was born and raised in Texas by a single mom who had dancing feet, so we moved around the state a bit. I grew up with a strong love of animals and a deep affection for horses. From age three I proclaimed I was going to be a veterinarian. My best friends as a child were a cat and a horse. I was lucky enough to spend time with my dad who allowed me to help take care of the cows on his father’s farm, and vets who took me under their wing. I have stuffed uteruses back into cows and removed cat food from a lamb’s belly. 

I grew up in a rodeo family. I have an uncle and a brother who were professional cowboys. I, myself, ran barrels, poles, and did break-away roping. I, however, was not a great performer. I always saved my best for home. I guess my nerves always got the best of me. 

I went to Texas A&M University with the desire to become a vet but quickly found that was not my calling. I wanted to study psychology but was told that I had to graduate with a degree I could earn a living with. So, I became a teacher. I taught science for a couple of years. While I loved teaching, I found myself drawn to my passion of helping children who had experienced traumatic events.

Currently, I am a therapist and the clinical supervisor at Spirit Reins, a non-profit organization that provides treatment to children and families who have experienced trauma. We specialize in trauma-focused equine assisted psychotherapy TM and use the Natural Lifemanship TM treatment model. My book, The Gift, organically explains Natural Lifemanship TM and the principles of developing a healthy relationship. 

I live with two high-energy, playful souls (dogs) and my soul-mate, (cat). I have two wonderful equine buddies, who also help me with my work, Cloud and Cash.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author? 

I don’t think I really ever decided to become an author. It just happened as a result of my passion for writing stories that help others. I didn’t consider myself an author until I saw The Gift in print. Now, I fully embrace that I am an author.

I began writing when I was in the fourth grade. It was a way to express feelings that I thought were difficult and things that were unspeakable. I have written most years since with some years writing less than others.

I became a therapist in 1994 and immediately began writing therapeutic stories as a way to help my young clients. Most of my clinical work centers on treating children who have experienced numerous traumatic events from an early age. While doing this work I realized that many of the traumas the children experienced had not been written about. So in 2012 I wrote my first therapeutic picture book about a young girl who was used to produce pornography. It was written from the perspective of a little girl and her teddy bear. After that I continued to write therapeutic stories about different types of traumatic events so that children could feel less alone. These books have been used by therapists to help children but they have not yet been published. In the midst of writing this series a friend asked me to write a simple story about a kid and a horse, that was not intended to be a therapeutic book. As I was writing The Gift, I didn’t conceive it as a therapy book but the therapist in me focused on the healing and meaning of relationships.  Although intended to be a simple story, it became something more. It took some time for the story to come to me but once I had written it, I found I had done what I can’t help but do—write a story to help others. 

Do you have another job besides writing?

Many people would say I am a shrink but I swear I have never shrunk anyone! My passion is helping people who have experienced traumatic events. I have been doing it for 23 years and believe I will do it until my boots are in the ground.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading? 

If I was not on the back of a horse, I had my nose in a book. I would hide in closets to have private time to read. I loved reading everything I could get my hands on! I read every book in my granny and papa’s house. Those books included the Happy Hollisters, The Boxcar Children, The Hardy Boys, the poetry of Abraham Lincoln, Moby Dick, Old Man and the Sea, and a ton of western novels. My favorite western author is Louis L’Amour. I also read every horse book that Walter Farley wrote. My favorite of those was Man “O War. My favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird which I have read too many times to count.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

The Gift is a story about a young girl who receives a horse for her birthday and her desire to have a best friend. She believes that her horse should be her best friend without having to develop a friendship. She learns from her father how to develop a friendship with her horse. The story is told from the perspective of the girl and the perspective of the horse. It is a story about understanding, patience and friendship.

My inspiration came from a young girl I know who fell deeply in love with a horse who refused to give her the time of day. It was their journey of becoming friends that inspired me to write The Gift.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Usually a book starts by waking me up in the middle of the night with an idea or an actual sentence that starts the book. When I write it is like the characters speaks to me. Once that happens the book feels as if it comes out of me rather than me creating it.

Re-writes feel more like a creative process, instead of writing what I see and hear in my mind. As part of the re-writing process I read my work out loud and I allow people I trust to read what I am writing. I just finished a book and part of that rewriting process was to actually have children read the book and tell me what they liked and did not like. I tease that it takes a village to write a book! During rewrites I take the feedback I am given and make changes to make the story better. I have never created a novel so I have not ever completed an outline. I think I would like to try writing that way some time.



Why do you write?

This is such an excellent question. I wish I had days to sit and talk about this with you. I write for many reasons. Sometimes it is a salve for wounds that ache. But mostly, it is to educate and help others, especially children. I want people to better understand how trauma impacts people and to help them understand the healing process. When people read my stories I want them to feel what it is like just for a moment being in someone else’s skin. 

Do you belong to a critique group? How has this helped or hindered your writing.

I do not belong to a formal critique group but I present my work to the audiences that they are written for and request critique from them. I like this process as it helps me to hone the message and to better understand how the intended audience is experiencing what I have written. My favorite statement I received recently from a young boy was “I liked the book because it made me feel loved.”

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I have had long periods of writer’s block. For a few years I didn’t write at all. My soul felt like it had nothing to say during those periods. When I was asked to write a story about a child and a horse I found myself in unfamiliar territory because I was not writing a therapeutic story. It took a long time for the idea for the story to come to me. No matter what I did to try to engage my muse she wasn’t interested! Finally, she came around and gave me the first line and the first part of the book flowed smoothly. I found Buck’s part of the book difficult to write. Finding Buck’s voice was an arduous process. Once I found his voice though his story flowed from me just like all the other stories I have ever written.

Technically speaking, what do you struggle the most with when writing? 

Commas! Oh my goodness is there ever an abundance of conflicting advice about them. I put commas in, a few friends take them out, then more friends put them back in and add more! I love the Oxford comma for instance but more than half of the people who read my work hate it. I always wonder what my English teachers would think about that!

How do you tackle it?

Usually, I read my work aloud and put commas where I pause. In the end I usually rely on the editor for the final say.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Finding a publisher is hard. It is difficult to get your manuscript in front of someone when they do not take unsolicited manuscripts. So, finding someone who can represent you and understands your work is key.

My advice is to enter contests, and look for Indie publishers if you are having difficulty getting in with a traditional publishing house. Before you send your manuscript to a publisher have it professionally edited. It gives your work the best opportunity to shine and it represents you as a professional.

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I just finished a book about grief titled The Boy Who Was So Sad. This book is about a small boy whose mother died. He is so overcome with grief that he cries so many tears that he floods his room and eventually his house. He cries so much that his tears create an ocean that separates him from his family who are also grieving the loss of his mother. On his journey he meets some wonderful friends who help reunite him with his family. 

I have just started another Pip and Buck story to explore where their relationship goes next.

Where do you find ideas for stories?

The ideas for almost all of my stories come from experiences children have told me about that make them feel alone. I recall a time looking out of a window with a child thinking about her mother who had died and the overwhelming grief she felt. The Boy Who Was So Sad was written for her and other children who have said, “I will never stop crying!”

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

People can find more information at rebeccahubbardlmft.com


All eleven-year old Pip wanted was a best friend.  When Pip gets a horse for her birthday she is delighted. She thinks that the horse she names Buck will be her best friend the moment that they meet. But she finds out that friendship does not come easily. Her father gently guides her so that Pip can discover for herself how to make Buck a true friend.
Pip’s new friend, Buck, has a story of his own.  After leaving his own herd, to move to Pip’s house, he is looking for a relationship that will help him feel safe.  He, too, learns that making a friend takes patience and understanding.

Now available at Amazon.com and Ravenswood Publishing.

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