In the hot seat: Kelly Wilson Author & reality TV Star
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow author Kelly Wilson of the formidable Wilson Sisters team and co-star of popular TV show Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas. Kelly is an accomplished equestrian in her own right, a bestselling author, award-winning photographer, reality television star, wild-horse tamer and adventurer; but most importantly she is an advocate for the welfare of all horses.
Kelly is the first to admit that none of this would have been possible without the support of her family or the Wilson sisters’ unorthodox childhood. Along with sisters Vicki and Amanda, Kelly was born into a family recovering from near-bankruptcy, and originally learned to ride bareback, taking on wild or difficult ponies, as the family could afford little else.
Through tough times came a strong work ethic, passion and determination which saw the Wilson family overcome both their financial and social circumstances, all of which has been captured in Kelly’s most recent work, the number one bestselling junior fiction series Showtym Adventures. The series unravels the Wilson sisters’ early years growing up with horses and their inspirational rise to success in the competition arena.
Kelly feels blessed by the life changing journey her love of horses has taken her on and is truly humbled by the opportunities that have opened for her through this passion.
Whilst there’s so many facets of Kelly’s life to explore, this interview focuses on Kelly’s work as an author and how she draws upon her life experience to get inspiration to consistently produce best-selling books her readers love.
So… without further ado, grab a cuppa, get comfy, and join me in this interview with a truly remarkable young woman. Enjoy.
An Interview with Kelly Wilson
Q. What does a typical day in the life of Kelly Wilson look like?
At the moment I’m taming seventeen wild Kaimanawas so I’m spending about ten hours a day outside mentoring students and working with my own stallion. In the evenings I answer emails and sort photos. Normally life isn’t quite that hectic though I usually spend a few hours each day writing or editing my latest book, ride a couple of horses and also manage to find time for plenty of adventures!
How would you describe what you do for a living?
I would say I’m an author first and foremost. The horses and adventures just provide content to write about – I’m pretty lucky to be able to spend my life living out amazing adventures, then writing about them.
Q. You have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. Was this ever a serious career option for you?
That my intention when I went to university, but I much prefer the direction life has taken me. I’m literally living out my wildest dreams.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I never actually planned to be an author!
It happened quite by chance after I wrote the memoir of Major KH, an eighteen year-old Kaimanawa stallion from the 2012 muster, who died. I’d written it so our family would never forget how special he was, or how much he taught us, but friends and family urged me to send it into a publisher.
They loved the story and wanted to hear about all eleven horses we saved from that first muster, so the story evolved into my first Number One Bestselling book ~ For the Love of Horses.
Did you ever dream you’d be such a recognisable brand alongside your sisters, and in your own right?
I was a fairly ordinary kid and really not the bravest of riders. It still seems crazy that we’re here now.
What impact did the Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas TV show have on your book sales?
For the Love of Horses was already a bestseller before the TV show, but hit the Number One spot almost immediately while the Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas show aired. Every book since then has been a bestseller. The public exposure has definitely helped, but my first book was a huge success in its own right before then.
What has been your biggest achievement with your horses and why?
Without a doubt; taming the wild horses is my greatest sense of accomplishment.
I’ve learned so much from these horses and it’s been life changing being able to work with three wild horse breeds, in three different countries.
Funnily enough, I’m the only trainer in the world to have placed ‘Top Six’ in wild horse challenges in New Zealand (Kaimanawa Stallion Challenges), Australia (Australian Brumby Challenge) and America (Extreme Mustang Makeover) which is quite rewarding.
You have written Children’s books and books to raise awareness of the plight of wild horses on a global scale. Do they stand on their own, or are they a body of work with connections between each book?
The books are all strong in their own right, but if read together they really do capture the essence of who we are, what horses have taught us, and just how much we love our four-legged partners.
The Showtym Adventure series, of which the third book, Casper ~ the Spirited Arabian, launched this week will have eight books. They will be followed by another series which focuses on our early years showjumping, from Vicki’s first Grand Prix pony Sophie Bell, right through to Amanda winning Pony of the Year in 2010.
So my stories really represent every facet of our journey with horses to date.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
My first book was actually commissioned by Penguin Random House so the process has always stayed the same. That original memoir I wouldn’t consider a book, it was really a diary of sorts. So I was really thrown into the deep end when writing For the Love of Horses; there was a lot of sleepless nights but it was so worth it.
I learned a lot and have discovered a passion for writing.
Since then every book I’ve written has been commissioned in advance and I currently have about thirty books in the planning stages – if I write all of them it’ll take me about twenty years to get through them all!
I only write books that have been contracted by Penguin Random House and currently have two books in the editing stages. These are due out in October. I’ve just started writing another one which will launch in early 2019.
How many hours a day do you write?
When I’m on a deadline I try to write one or two chapters a day. It normally takes me about an hour to write a thousand words and chapters are anywhere from one to two thousand words depending on the type of book. I try to limit my writing to a couple of hours a day, but sometimes I have to play catch up and spend a full day writing.
The Showtym Adventures series takes about four months to write and edit each book, as they are only about 25,000 words, but for the adult non-fiction books I have four months to write them and another three months to edit them.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes absolutely! Although it’s not as bad when you’re only retelling a story based on real life.
Sometimes I’ll sit here for three hours though and only write a couple of hundred words which can be frustrating!
Do you find it difficult to come up with new ideas for your stories?
Not at all. My problem is finding the time to write them all – because my mind has so many awesome books waiting to be written!
Do you take all your own photos for your books?
Yes generally. Although if I’m in the photos, I’ll pass the camera over to one of my sisters or a friend that’s with us at the time.
Which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I loved Mustang Ride, because our time in America was one of the best memories of my life!
What is your focus in the next twelve months?
At the moment I’m committed to saving and training as many Kaimanawas from slaughter as possible, train my own horses for competition next season, and also travel the world to observe and photograph wild herds in different countries for a new book which I’m very excited about!
Tell us a bit about your sponsors and how you form those partnerships
We’re very lucky to have the support of TuffRock Equine Products, CopRice, Isuzu Utes New Zealand and Gallagher; their products are all ones we use daily and are a crucial part of our routine. It’s easy to endorse something that we 100% believe in and each of these brands have been game changers in our own journey with horses.
Buy Kelly’s books…
If you would like to purchase signed copies of Kelly’s books, you can do so through Kelly’s website, or purchase during book signing events at Equidays and other major equestrian events around New Zealand. Like and follow Kelly on social media to stay updated on her latest book releases and adventures:
This months Competition…
HorseTackNZ home of Tuffrock Equine Products and official sponsor of the Wilson Sisters, are sponsoring a TuffRock Horse Care Kit for our latest competition. This fantastic prize is valued at around $185 and includes:
- TuffRock Non-Medicated Poultice 1.8kg
- Helps maintain healthy legs, muscles and joints. Is applied as a cold therapy to treat or prevent inflammation, swelling, pain or draw fluid out from infected areas
- TuffRock GI (gastro-intestinal) Liquid 500mL
- helps maintain normal gastro-intestinal conditions
- TuffRock Conditioner Plus 1L
- optimises digestive health and enhances feed conversion