Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - THE GRILL -

Stacy Gregg has had a soft spot for The Lion In The Meadow since child­hood. “Look­ing back now, it’s quite ex­is­ten­tial­ist,” says Gregg, her­self a best­selling au­thor of chil­dren’s fic­tion. “It was prob­a­bly quite a ground­break­ing book.”

Gregg has writ­ten 23 chap­ter books since 2007, sell­ing copies into the mil­lions, in a dozen lan­guages, al­ways with horse-re­lated plots. Now, she writes about a book a year. 2018’s was The Fire Stal­lion, a tale wo­ven with pa­tri­ar­chal sub­ver­sion and Norse mythol­ogy, set in Ice­land. Gregg refers to next year’s book, which is set in Ber­lin, as Hitler Stole My Pony, al­though that’s not what the fin­ished prod­uct will be ti­tled.

This year, Gregg also re­leased her first pic­ture book, il­lus­trated by Ruth Paul, Mini Whinny: Happy Birth­day to Me! The pub­lisher had pitched the orig­i­nal pro­tag­o­nist as a lit­tle hero that saved the day. Gregg wasn’t sold.

“Ev­ery yard I’ve ever been on, minis are jumped-up lit­tle en­fant ter­ri­bles. That’s what

I wanted the char­ac­ter to be: a lit­tle s..., re­ally.”

De­spite be­ing a fan of Mar­garet Mahy’s from way back, Gregg – a for­mer fash­ion jour­nal­ist and edi­tor – has never been a rain­bow wig kind of au­thor. She did re­cently don a swishy horse tail on a school visit to pro­mote Mini Whinny with Paul, who was dressed as a gi­ant car­rot.

The duo had con­ducted a dress re­hearsal in Gregg’s Par­nell apart­ment, fol­lowed by lunch bought at a lo­cal eatery. Re­turn­ing home, Paul no­ticed Gregg was still wear­ing her tail.

“No one had pointed it out to me,” Gregg says.

“I thought peo­ple were star­ing be­cause I was wear­ing some quite loud trousers.”

Di­a­monds / Pearls

Fash­ion / Horses Ru­ral / Ur­ban Re­search / Writ­ing Cho­co­late / Cheese Jacinda / Win­ston An­i­mals / Chil­dren Fact / Fic­tion Cof­fee / Cock­tails Mas­sage / Man­i­cure

Lis­ten / Talk let’s not kid our­selves Ex­plore / Rem­i­nisce

Plan / Day­dream

Mini Whinny: Happy Birth­day to Me! (Scholas­tic, $20) and The Fire Stal­lion (Harper Collins NZ, $25) are out now.

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