"I was brought up in London, but I always longed to live in the country with lots of animals – a dream fuelled by many happy school holidays spent on my grandmother’s farm near Lynton, in the Exmoor National Park. Well, dreams do come true, because for the past 30 years or so I’ve been farming here on Exmoor with my husband, Chris, surrounded by a variety of animals.

Our children are adults now, and we’re grandparents, but I gained a lot of inspiration for my stories from bringing up a family on an isolated farm and keeping horses and ponies – everything from reliable Shire horses to wild Exmoor ponies.

I wrote my first story in 2001, and published it myself in 2002. It was about a girl called Katy and a wild foal called Trifle, growing up together on an Exmoor hill farm.

It was such a success that a wrote two more stories about Katy and Trifle, followed by a book based on the true story of a stallion called Midnight who lived on the island of Lundy during the 1950s and 60s. Chris illustrated all of them. My Lundy story was made Book of the Month on the website Lovereading4kids, and that led to a publishing deal with Orion Children’s books. I rewrote my existing stories for Orion, plus five more. To date, Orion (now Hachette) has published nine of my books, with Chris still doing the internal illustrations:

Katy’s Wild Foal, Katy’s Champion Pony, Katy’s Pony Surprise, Katy’s Pony Challenge and Katy’s Pony Summer (the Katy’s Ponies series)

A Stallion Called Midnight

Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe, Joe and the Lightning Pony and Joe and the Race to Rescue (the Horseshoe trilogy)

My stories have the countryside at their heart, and appeal to a wide range of readers from about seven upwards. I want my books to be enjoyed by everyone, not just ‘pony-mad girls’, and that’s one of the reasons why a boy called Joe is the main character in the Horseshoe trilogy.

School Visits

I’d love to visit your school, so do contact me (details below).

Depending on what’s happening on the farm, my husband Chris sometimes joins me. This gives us the opportunity to talk about team-work. Chris is dyslexic, so he finds reading and writing difficult, but his artistic talents have led him to become the illustrator of my books. He’s good at drawing, I’m good at writing and together we create books.

A typical interactive presentation, with pictures via Powerpoint, lasts from 30 to 40 minutes, with time for questions afterwards. I can cover a variety of topics during interactive sessions, from how animals are depicted in books to how we include our own experiences in our writing. I can even give a tour of Lundy in words and pictures, which is especially useful if you are planning a trip there.

In addition, I have compiled some worksheets about my stories (with key stage categories AF6 and AF7 particularly in mind), helped by a friend who is a teacher. I can email these free of charge – even if you don’t want a school visit but want to use my books in class – so please contact me if you’d like them.

For illustrated talks, I have a laptop and a digital projector. Or I can bring a memory stick if you have audio-visual equipment installed.

I also have a wide range of props I can bring for interactive story-making sessions – a gigantic horseshoe plus toy farm animals and people, for instance.

I’d be delighted to bring my books to sell and sign, too.

I always work closely with teachers beforehand, to ensure everyone enjoys the event and gets as much as possible from it. Please use the contact details below, and we can discuss what you have in mind.

Contact Details

Website www.victoriaeveleigh.co.uk

Email victoria@westilkerton.co.uk

Twitter @TortieEveleigh

Facebook Victoria Eveleigh Author

Address West Ilkerton Farm, Lynton EX35 6QA

Telephone 01598 752310

Testimonials

“Our visit from Victoria was great. She took the children through a Powerpoint of her life on the farm, which kept their attention. Victoria made a point of relating her books to boys as well as girls, and it was fascinating to learn how much she uses real life experiences in her stories. Her visit went like clockwork – just as planned!” Russ Constant, form teacher, Class 5, Bishops Tawton Primary School

“Thank you so much for coming to speak to both our Senior School and Junior School pupils on World Book Day. Your visit was a great success and enjoyed by everyone. We were all captivated to hear how you became both a farmer and an author and to see the slides of all the lovely Exmoor ponies! Our budding artists in school were pleased that Chris was able to join you for this visit.” Mrs E Taylor, librarian at Exeter School

“I am so glad that you enjoyed your visit as much as we did. The girls could have asked questions all afternoon!” Elen Curran, Librarian, Francis Holland School, London

“Just to say a really big thank you for today. I’m so glad you came. You and Chris are wonderful. The kids were so enthusiastic. Loved your company. Have a good few days in the Highlands and a safe journey home.” Kim MacLennan, teacher, Lochcarron Primary School, Highland, Scotland