I can't decide if I am a writer who trains horses or a horse trainer who writes. Either way, I have spent the majority of my adult life doing, and loving, both.
As a writer I have worked in many different genres including journalism, marketing and academia. I have also edited and collaborated on books with other writers. I completed a PhD in 2014, an MA (creative writing and literature) in 2001 and a BA (English) in 1990. I also have a Diploma in Equitation Science.
As a horse coach and trainer I am particularly interested in the intersection of modern behavioral science with horse training – a practice that is more than 6000 years old. I am passionate about welfare and objectivity. I lecture in equine behavior at Murdoch University and I have written widely on horse training for the equestrian press. I wrote the new Pony Club Australia coaching manuals – the first time a pony club has based their curriculum on evidence based training.
I live and work on a property in the Swan Valley. I am on the board of the elephant welfare charity HELP and in my spare time I like to train my own horse, run, write and spend time with my three adult children.
Seeing the Elephant was my first novel and was written as part of my PhD. I wrote it because, as the daughter of a migrant, I have always been fascinated by migration and by the intersection of history, place and gender. I have been a pacifist for as long as I can remember but as a mother this inclination has been foregrounded. 102,000 Australians have been lost in combat and I feel the need to continue to document this loss so that, in some way it may act as a prophylactic against future wars. When I was growing up the Vietnam War seemed to me to be an unspoken mystery. After five years of study and two trips to Vietnam the mystery, and the sadness, still remains.
Only Birds Above, which will be released in early 2022 by Fremantle Press, started out as the story of my great-grandfather who died in a POW camp in 1945 but ended up being about much more. Writing the novel took me to Sumatra twice and let me explore my fascination with the history of the Light Horse Regiment.
Horses Hate Surprise Parties was written as a book for children about the science of learning. However, it has been widely read by both adults and children. It sells all around the world and has had so many positive reviews that I am currently in the process of writing a similar book for adults. I am hoping that Why The Long Face: What Equitation Science tells us about the horse will be available in late 2022.