Anaka Jones, a 12-year old girl from Ann Arbor, MI has released of her first book, The Night Horses. Yep, we said twelve. This dynamic young woman and independent author created the book to give children an engaging storytelling experience, while still developing their reading skills.
Written for children 3-6 years old, The Night Horses is a straightforward tale about the world of horses. Anaka describes their daily activities and hard work through a story that mixes reality and fantasy, showcasing the playful and humorous side of rural life.
Sporting colorful illustrations and an interactive digital format, The Night Horses makes it easy for parents to engage their children in the fun tale Anaka has created. An incredible feat for any children’s book author, let alone a 12-year old.
Anaka started junior high school this past week, but we had a chance to catch up with her to learn more about what it’s like to be a young author. Another 12-year old, Rachel Schultz, helped us out with the interview.
Girl Talk: 10+ Questions With 12-Year Old Author, Anaka Jones
What inspired you to write the book?
AJ: I was riding at a barn that had about 25 horses. They were grouped in different paddocks because most of them had special friendships. When I noticed that, I realized that there was a lot more going on in their lives than I knew before.
How has writing this book changed your life?
AJ: It was a dream come true to share this story. It’s amazing because I have had the opportunity to talk to so many people about it. I even had an online meeting with a class of kids at a school in Alaska. Most of them had never seen a horse before and they were really interested in learning about the writing process.
What was the process of writing a book like? How long did it take you to write the book?
AJ: Stressful, fun, and exciting. This was a short story so the revisions weren’t too bad. It was hard work, a lot of decisions. It took about 3 years to get it out.
Why did you want to write a children’s book?
AJ: I wanted to write a children’s book because I was a child when I wrote it, lol. Most children’s books are written by someone over 20, I thought it would be a good opportunity to connect with people my own size. I still remembered what it was like to be in bed and have a story read to you, to shut your eyes and see the characters in action. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Has writing always been your “thing”?
AJ: Not before I wrote The Night Horses. That was the first time – I just relaxed and told the story. Since then I have had more confidence in my writing.
How did the illustrations come to be? They are beautiful.
AJ: Well, I did the first ones, and then my mom & I did another set. We decided to get an illustrator who took our drawings and did a much better version. There is something in her contract that doesn’t allow her name to be on the cover, which made me really sad because she is amazing!
What do you love about horses?
AJ: I love everything about horses. They are so much like people, funny, nice, and sometimes full of mischief. I always feel good when I’m around them.
What are some of your favorite books?
AJ: When I was very young my favorite book was We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. There were others, we read a lot. One of my favorite ones was Sky by Hanneke Ippisch, a true story about a young girl’s courage during World War II.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
AJ: I want to be a Marine Biologist. I would like to continue writing also and maybe make films about underwater awareness. I’m really interested in sharks.
What other hobbies do you have?
AJ: I love swimming & snorkeling. I am working on my scuba certification. I like to write and I’m pretty good at sports photography from going to my brothers’ games (I have two older brothers). Animal conservation is really important to me.
Do you think you will write another book anytime soon?
AJ: I’m planning on it. I have a lot of stories to tell!