Today we have an inspiring interview with Lapo Melzi, author of Horse Sense. Lapo is an author who was brave enough to write about his own experiences with bullying as a child. Check out the synopsis for Horse Sense:
“There’s nothing easy about being an eleven year old boy, especially for Jamie. As he takes the unsteady steps into adolescence, his days of knowing who his friends are and trusting the adults in his life are numbered. The only thing Jamie can really count on in this changing world is the love of his best friend, a horse named Acorn. Jamie and Acorn’s friendship has a magic that comes once in a lifetime—but the bullies around them want to rip that to shreds. Can their kindred connection survive as Jamie strives to carve out his identity?”
When did you decide to be an author?
The conscious decision to become a fiction author was made about three years ago. I had been writing scripts for about fifteen years by then and was really tired of the limitations imposed by the medium. In particular, I was tired of being obliged to write only what I could produce and I was yearning to delve into the internal emotional and psychological life of my characters. I also had a hunch that I would write better novels than scripts. I wasn't sure I could write narrative though. In fact, I have always had the greatest admiration for books (much more than for movies), but I never thought I could write one. So I did a leap of faith and discovered, thankfully, that I could write.
You're novel, Horse Sense, was inspired by personal experiences you had growing up. Is there any specific scene in the book that drew directly from one of those experiences?
A good eighty percent of what you read in the book actually happened. There are entire pages of dialogue that I put down exactly as I remembered. The teacher and main villain of the book I actually had and she DID do and say the things I describe in the book. And my classmates actually did behave as I tell in the book. Seems unreal, but most of it actually happened.
What inspired you to use your experiences with bullying to write a novel?
I think that a lot of what is said and taught about bullying is very theoretical and not too useful to people who are actually being abused. I wanted to give a personal perspective about the issue and show to people my experience, how I was attacked, how (badly) it affected me, how insidious and multifaceted bullying is (it is not just physical abuse and it is not only delivered by your peers, but also by adults, even your parents) and how I overcame it. I think that when an experience is shared on a personal level, it affects much more the people that are having the same problem and can give them more hope and more tools to fight their own battle.
What message do you hope readers will take away from Horse Sense?
What made me want to write this book was the desire to show people that you can defy bullying, that there is hope, that animals are a safe haven when all people around you are hurting you and that a great strength lies inside everyone. Ultimately this is an hopeful coming of age story and a story of a great friendship. I hope young readers will find tools in the book to help them in the struggle against bullying and I hope that parents will find tools to help them understand what their children are going through and how they can help them without hurting them too.
What's your favorite line from Horse Sense and what makes it special?
“If his mom’s love could have a shape, he thought, it would be this apple pie.”
This line is special because it reminds me of when I was little, of how close I and my mom were, of how much I treasured the moments with her and how much I loved her apple pie. It’s a sweet slice of the past that I enjoy remembering very much.
For more about Horse Sense check out these sites!