Christensen writes equine tales from personal experiences
January 7, 2014
By Neil Pierson
After a 35-year career as a horse trainer, Anne C. Christensen is now immersed in an activity that’s worlds away.
Christensen, a Northwest native who moved to Sammamish two years ago, began writing full-time six years ago as A.C. Christensen. She’s published three autobiographical fiction books since then – two of them rooted in her personal experiences with horse culture.
In “Patrick the Naughty Pony,” the first of what Christensen hopes will be a 12-part series called “Over the Rails Pony Tales,” she writes about her adventurous childhood on Mercer Island.
Her parents bought her a circus pony, an animal that wasn’t naturally meant for riding or showing, but through determination and repetition, she developed a new friend. And that helped Christensen make her own friends through a local saddle club.
“It was kind of a fun way to grow up,” she explained. “There was a dozen other kids who had ponies, so we rode all over the island, we swam in Lake Washington with them, we had pony parties … It’s kind of the life lessons we learned through that (which) I used in some of the stories.”
The second book in the series, “Annie and Alley,” skips ahead to a time when Patrick – who has transformed into an equestrian champion – is traded for an ex-racehorse, Alley.
Christensen’s tale draws upon her own past, when she transitioned to a quality show trainer in Kirkland. Historically, former racehorses were either euthanized or shipped overseas as meat.
“Some of us took them over, retrained them, gave them a new job to be a riding horse,” she said.
Following a successful competitive riding career, Christensen became a trainer. She taught three students who qualified for the national Pony Finals, and molded three U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year award winners.
But her business, she said, was always about more than winning, a theme that has filtered into her writing career.
“I thought there should be a place for kids that was a safe place to learn, where snobbishness wasn’t an issue, where winning a blue ribbon … wasn’t the only goal,” she said. “The main goal was personal improvement and to learn while you’re having fun.”
Christensen’s third book, “Motorbikes and Murder,” strays away from lighthearted subjects like ponies, although it contains the familiar theme of friendship.
It also draws upon past personal tragedy – “I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it was pretty much a crisis,” she said – that caused her to seek a support group.
The book follows Mackenzie, a woman who chooses to run away from her pain. However, she keeps finding and escaping trouble through “some odd characters that you wouldn’t think would come to her aid,” Christensen said.
Through her own hardships, Christensen became interested in crime victims’ rights, and she combined that with her love of murder mysteries to write about the aftermath of being a victim.
“There’s a pinnacle point where (Mackenzie) realizes that you don’t walk through life by yourself, and that you have to become engaged and help people when they need help, or be a friend,” she said.
For Christensen, the process of telling a story is fun and generally easy, but she has difficulty editing because “it’s not once or twice, it’s a dozen times or more.”
Feedback from readers of “Patrick” and “Annie” has been positive, she said, and their repeated interest in her main characters has led Christensen to pursue a series.
As for “Motorbikes and Murder,” she’s found her audience to be unusually diverse.
“I kind of wrote it for women, honestly, but I’m finding I have a readership of about 50-50 (men and women), so that was a little bit of a surprise,” she said.