Episode 62: On Creating Fergus The Horse, Illustration & Evoking Emotion with Jean Abernethy (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 62: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Jean Abernethy, author, illustrator and creator of Fergus the Horse. You'll learn ...
Watch Jean Abernethy's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Jean Abernethy
Jean grew up on a small family farm near Lindsay Ontario (Canada) where at an early age she learned to explore her world on horseback. She pursued a college education in Equestrian Studies at Humber College, and then earned her art degree a OCAD University in Toronto.
Her illustrations have graced equestrian print publications for over 35 years. Jean's cartoon character, Fergus the Horse, has brought laughter to hundreds of thousands (of humans) around the world on Facebook. (As far as we know, horses have not yet learned to access social media.)
Jean Abernethy Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: How did your love affair with horses begin?
Jean: I'll be completely honest. I think it started at my conception. I just really and truly think it's in us when we're born. I don't know why but I needed a pony. I made a little T-shirt design that says, "I need a pony." It's that simple. It's that simple. I was a kid that needed a pony.
Carly: You and Fergus the Horse just celebrated your 20-year anniversary together. How does that make you feel?
Jean: It's a little bit mind-blowing actually to realize I've been doing this that long. Fergus just hit his 20 years, but I've been cartooning closer to 35 years. Before Fergus, I was just doing generic horses and the people in the cartoons told the jokes. When I invented Fergus, the character had to speak, so it kind of went from there. I didn't really know what I was stepping into when I started Fergus, but it was something that obviously needed stepping into.
Carly: You've just released a new book called It's been 20 years Fergus. Talk to us about about your books.
Jean: The first book was the initial collection of ten years worth of comics. That was followed by three story books which were completely and totally enjoyable. My publisher and I were thinking about where Fergus would go next. I looked at the calendar, looked at the year, and it was perfect because it was right about 20 years since I scribbled down this little guy and stuffed him into a fax machine to a very dear friend in England. That was when Fergus was born. He popped out of the fax machine at the other end announcing that he would rather travel by satellite than by horse trailer.
Fax machines are obsolete now. Goodness me, but it's been that long, so we took a look at those 20 years. I dug up drawings and artwork. I made a lot of new material for the book, which was fun.
It's Been 20 Years Fergus Book Trailer
Fergus the Horse Books by Jean Abernethy
Carly: What were you thinking when you created Fergus?
Jean: That's a good question. I was making it up as I went along. I had enough people who enjoyed my cartoons ask me what the horse's name was. I was making generic horses then, and I heard that question often enough that I thought maybe I better make a singular character, rather than just drawing the old horse with googly eyes, so I did that of course. Then I realized that particular horse needed other horses for the stories to play against. He needed some people for the stories to play against, and then I started building this herd of characters. I needed stories for them to tell, so it grew and grew.
Carly: Where did your talent start?
Jean: That may have started at conception, too. I enjoyed drawing as a little kid. I remember being so young the first few times i held that orange pencil and learning to make the shapes of letters. I would make horses too because that's the other thing a pencil will do — it'll draw things. I just took to it and, for unknown reasons, horses inspired me. I was drawing horses as early as I can remember.
My whole family is artistic. I've always been artistic and followed that thread
growing up as a kid on the farm. I didn't know what a professional artist might even do. I didn't have a clue. I just knew that, between art and horses, it'd always be something that I gravitated towards. I'm very grateful to have educated myself in both disciplines to some degree. In college, I pursued equestrian studies. which was one of the smartest things I ever did, but then I went on to art school. That was the other smartest thing I ever did.
My education has enabled me to grow Fergus into looking the way he looks. Raw talent is exactly that. It's raw. I would say that to any young artist. Study, study, study. Educate yourself as much as you can because raw talent is raw.
Carly: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Jean: One surprising thing would be the somber side of Jean Abernethy. A good laugh and a good cry are close cousins, Carly. I have written a couple of songs that'll put tears in people's eyes. As artists, it's our job to make work that evokes emotion. I just happen to choose comedy most of the time because that's the most fun.
Connect with Jean Abernethy & Fergus the Horse
Fergus the Horse Website: https://www.fergusthehorse.com/
Buy the Books: https://www.horseandriderbooks.com/jean-abernethy/
Get your FREE Fergus the Horse Coloring Sheets here: https://www.fergusthehorse.com/#downloads
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Thank you for joining us this week on the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast I hope you enjoy these Q&A sessions with wonderful equine authors who love all things horses and writing just like me.
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About Your Podcast Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!