Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why I commissioned...Jinny at Finmory series

Editors can't play favourites. It's part of the job to understand that loving a list isn't a linear matter, you can't rank the books in an orderly fashion any more than you can a forest of beautiful trees. You just love each one you commission for what it is; nothing more and nothing less. But the Jinny at Finmory series will always have a special place in my egalitarian editorial heart.

Out this month is Gallop to the Hills, the fifth in the series (of which there are twelve), featuring wild, wilful Jinny and her beautiful Arab mare Shantih. There are many layers to my love of this series:

1) I read these as a child and loved them so much that I never forgot about them.

2) When I started at Catnip this was the first series I suggested we publish - the day before Lauren St John emailed Andrea to recommend we do just that. In the end it was Lauren who did an amazing amount of detective work to make her (and my) dream come true.

3) The story of how we came to publish them makes me happy - Lauren's championing of the series, Patricia's joy and delight at the idea of Jinny and Shantih running free once more, the members of pony forums who contacted me when they heard these were coming out once more...

4) The story of the cover star. You may notice that we feature the same horse on all the covers. Her name is Shantih and she belongs to the photographer, Karen Budkiewicz. Like me, Karen read the books obsessively as a child and fell for the fictional Shantih's charms – so much so that she made it her mission to find her very own fiery chestnut Arab. To have a real-life Shantih pose for the series of books after which she was named just seems too perfect to be true. But it is.

5) The writing. These books are littered with social commentaries that are as relevant today as they were when they were penned – touching upon inner city poverty, animal cruelty and perceptions of traveller community amongst other things – and Jinny is a perfectly flawed heroine who is locked in a perpetual struggle with doing what she knows to be right and what she knows to be easy. You can tell that this isn't a Pony Club romp, nor a series written for commercial value, but one written from the very soul of a woman who not only loves horses but language too. These books contain sentences so perfect that that they make me want to cry with love for the words, here's one of my favourite paragraphs:

The afterglow of sunset turned sky, sea and wet sands into a glowing sapphire. We must be breathing blue air, Jinny thought. Sue and Marlene were walking the horses at the water’s edge and the spray from their horses’ hooves glittered ice blue, diamond, aquamarine. They were held in a jewelled paperweight of sky and sea.

These are all the reasons why I love this series, but don't just take my word for it, have a look yourself. Buy a copy and, as Ken, the insightful young drifter who lives with Jinny's family would say, 'Take joy.'

27 comments:

  1. These books were my absolute favourites when I was 10! I still have an image of Jinny making her fabulous drawing of Shantih. But I only read the first two at the time... I didn't even find the others, or I'd have grabbed them right away! Must get the Catnip set.

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  2. What a beautiful piece of writing straight from the heart. I feel just the same. Thankyou catnip for completing my dream in owning "shantih". She sends her love!

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    1. OMG Karen you own Shantih!! im so jealous! :O xx

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    2. Are you Polish?

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  3. I absolutely love these books and spent my childhood in charity shops to find second hand copies (I sound so old, I'm only 20). Thanks Catnip for publishing them again :)

    I just have one question- have these been modernised at all like Enid Blytons? I know the money in these became updated to sterling and wondered if the Jinny books received the same treatment regarding the passages where it mentions her riding lessons (For Love Of A Horse)?

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  4. Hi Michelle, we tried to keep these as true to the original text as possible, as we felt that too much updating would interfere with Pat's wonderful writing. There have been one or two minor updates in the text if a phrase would cause confusion and pull the reader 'out' of the narrative (Pat suggested changing sandshoes to trainers for example) but by and large... nope, we've left it the way we found it: perfect.

    There's an editor's note in the back of each title to clarify any unusual references in that book for the modern reader.

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  5. Hi there,

    I got the set of 6 books for Christmas as I'm a bit fan (I'm 26), and have read them all. When will you be publishing the next 6?

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  6. I absolutely LOVED these books as a child but I never managed to find them all. I'm delighted that they are getting reprinted and cannot wait to have them all at last, thank you so much!

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  7. It's wonderful to see this amazing set of books get the recognition they deserve. I first read them 35 years ago, and I still love them to this day due to the quality of Patricia Leitch's writing. They will never date, true classics. Jan

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  8. Hi there im 12 and im obbsessed with these books! read the first four and ordering 5 and six very soon! im pony mad! jw will u be producing the others in the series? pleaseeee?

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  9. We've just published book seven: The Magic Pony and have plans to publish the eighth in the series, Ride like the Wind, next year. As for the remaining four... watch this space! It's great to see Jinny fans both old and new are enjoying the books so much.

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  10. OMG is magic pony available to buy? these books are actually my life! :D

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  11. How come you dont have have a cover girl? just the horse? *hint* lol jokes :)

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  12. Yey! I still own most of my old copies from when I started reading them as a horse mad teen a while ago and now I can replace my missing copies.
    I love these books so much that at the age of 32 I am really looking forward to reading them again.

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  13. I'm so glad that these books are being reprinted and that today's children can have some quality literature to read rather than those trashy pony novels they are putting up with. I read the Jinny series when I was a child and still have my complete, original set, protected in their plastic sleeves in pride of place on my book shelf. They are still read with love even though I am now 42!

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  14. Thank you for reprinting this superb series. I still have my (almost) complete set from childhood and have just started reading 'For Love of a Horse' to my 8 year old daughter. In fact I have impatiently read ahead of her and made sure to retrieve all the books from my mother's house recently. This is not the first time I have re-read the series as an adult - a testament to the quality of the writing, the genuine characters and the great plots. On a purely aesthetic note, I am so glad that you are using the same horse for all the covers. As a child it bothered me that the cover horse changed from edition to edition. Catnip's Shantih is a perfect match for the Arab created by Patricia Leitch!

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  15. Did not know this was a series until a few months ago. I have the first three books in the series (read numbers one and three years ago as a child) and just got done with Devil to Ride. I've always loved For Love of a Horse and was thrilled to find out this was a series! One of my favorite horse books from when I was a kid. Love, love, LOVE these books and want the entire series. Thank YOU for republishing them!

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  16. Would love to see the last four published - looking forward to finally replacing the last of my battered old 2 in 1 editions.

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  17. Thanks very much for letting us know, Gloria - we are so pleased we are able to bring these books back and it is fab to hear that readers are enjoying them!

    Goldielover, thanks so much for getting in touch - book 9 (Chestnut Gold) is out next month and we will be continuing to republish the series, so shiny, unbattered versions of all 12 will be available at some point!
    xxx

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  18. Is Chestnut Gold out yet? I haven't seen it on any of the on-line sites yet. I'm from Canada, so not expecting to see it in the stores here.

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  19. Hi Goldie, it should be available next week! It got a little delayed, but is on its way!x

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  20. Any thoughts of putting these out on Kindle? I would buy the lot in a blink if they were available

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  21. We are currently in the process of launching our ebook list and Jinny will definitely be on there, so watch this space!x

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  22. Hoping to see the next Jinny at Finmory book soon. Publishing of this series seems to have slowed down a bit over the past year or so, but hopefully it will be completed at some point.

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  23. Hello - has book 12 been published yet? Or is there a date, I am buying these for my 2 year old daughter to read when she's is a bit older as I adored them as a child.

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  24. I have all the books except #1. I read them in the 1980s and still love them. My burning question is who was the girl on the covers? She was just how jinny is described.

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  25. I have all the Armada editions of this series, the one I found hardest to get was number ten - how many hours I spent looking in every bookshop I could find! And how pleased I was to finaally lay hands on that last title :) I'm delighted these are being printed once more, they are such good books, a real departure from the normal pony stories where everything is so totally 'horsey' and perfect.

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