By Romy Stephens
An idea for a great story is often drawn from personal experience. That’s exactly the case for Kaylee Ison, whose latest novel stems from her memories growing up in the Yarra Valley.
As a child, Kaylee was a shy girl from Seville East who often struggled to find confidence in herself. But the one place she felt on top of the world was on the back of her horse.
“I grew up as a horserider, in the Yarra Valley. I loved horses, lived and breathed them,” she said.
“I was pretty shy growing up and I had this one pony, he gave me a lot of confidence.
“He taught me to ride when I was little.”
Kaylee – who is now based in Lilydale – always knew her story resembled that of many children across the region who struggle to find self-belief, so she decided to write a story about it.
Her children’s novel, Ashley’s Sparrow, is about a young girl and a horse that both had tragic pasts so they come together to find healing.
The main character, Bridie, is a fearless cross-country rider before she suffers a tragic accident and refuses to ride again. It’s not until she meets a horse called Sparrow – whose trust has been abused by his past rider – that she faces the decision to get back in the saddle and help Sparrow learn to trust again.
Kaylee said her experience growing up with horses and learning so much from them helped inspire the narrative.
“Horses taught me a lot growing up and gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.
“They are an amazing creature, they can teach us a lot about ourselves.”
The book has been a work in progress for the past five years. It took two years to write and another three to finalise and have published.
After initially struggling to go down the typical route of finding a publisher, Kaylee decided to have it self-published. She found an artist who used to live in the Yarra Valley to create the front cover and had former university classmates, family and friends do the proof-reading.
She is now in the process of writing a second book as part of what she anticipates to be an entire series.
Kaylee hopes the book can help young children who are going through tough times.
“The book itself is about finding healing and finding faith in yourself again after a tragic accident.”
“I hope it helps readers find hope again and keep going.”
Ashley’s Sparrow is available at lulu.com