eBook Review Gal read and reviewed The Gift by Rebecca Hubbard and we LOVED the book so much we knew we had to have a chat with the author!
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for joining us on the eBook Review Gal Blog. Can you please tell readers a little about your book The Gift?
“The Gift” is a story about a young girl, Pip, who receives a horse for her birthday and her desire to have a best friend. She believes that the horse she names Buck should be her best friend because he was given to her. She learns that in order to have a friend she has to develop a friendship. She struggles with how to do this and misinterprets Buck’s behavior. From her father she learns how to understand Buck’s perspective and how to develop a friendship with him. The story is told from the perspective of Pip and the perspective of Buck. From Buck, we learn how he interprets Pip’s behavior and how he feels about the things she does to try to make friends with him. We also learn about the things that bring him joy and what causes him to feel afraid. It is a story about understanding one another, patience and developing a true friendship.
What motivated you to write The Gift?
The seed of the idea came from an interaction that I witnessed between a girl who desperately wanted to be friends with a horse and the horse completely ignored her existence. Something about that interaction and the heartbreak the girl felt played over and over in my mind. My business partner at the time kept asking me to write a story about a kid and a horse but I felt I didn’t write those types of stories so I tried to ignore her request. She, however, would not allow me to ignore it. She asked me frequently when I would write the story, keeping the idea of a story about a child and a horse in the forefront of my mind. So when my muse struck, the interaction between the girl and the horse became my template for The Gift.
I love the idea of splitting the book into two separate POVs – first from Pip’s POV and then from Buck’s. What made you decide to write the book this way?
This is going to sound silly but I never considered telling the story any other way. I feel that in order to fully understand the story you must hear from both characters. If you only hear Pip’s side of the story, then Buck appears ornery, belligerent and maybe even snobbish. When you hear Buck’s side of the story, you have compassion for him and understand his behavior and may feel that Pip is selfish and ungrateful. Having both points of view makes you appreciate the dynamic that occurs between the two of them. In addition, telling the story from two points of view gave me the flexibility to help children understand that things are not always the way we think they are, and that there are many reasons for the behaviors of others. It also opened up the ability to help children with learning perspective taking and understanding from another’s point of view, allowing for increased sensitivity and compassion.
The Gift is much more than a story about a girl and a horse. It’s a valuable lesson about friendship, trust and love, which will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Can you share some information about the book’s many therapeutic benefits?
“The Gift” has been used in many different ways. A parent told me that he uses the concepts in the book with his teenage daughter every day. He explained that it helped to have Buck discuss his fears and this allowed for him and his daughter to have a conversation about what would happen if Buck had not known to be afraid of snakes or wolves. His daughter replied that Pip would have to keep Buck in the barn to keep him safe. The father said that his daughter does not see the dangers around her and through this conversation she was able to understand how he tries to keep her safe. He also told me that he helps his daughter understand when she is being overbearing or interacting with too much energy. He says to his daughter, “You are Pippin’.” This helps his daughter know she needs to regulate herself and approach a situation or others with calmer energy. He noted that reading “The Gift” gave them numerous ways to discuss how her behavior impacts her relationships.
A teacher related that she used the story in her class to help her class understand perspective taking. She explained that until she found “The Gift” she did not have an effective manner to do this. Her class had a very in-depth conversation about how Pip’s thoughts about Buck’s behavior were very different than why Buck was making the decisions he was making. She said that this led to her class discussing other situations where it was important to listen or pay attention to someone else’s perspective and feelings.
Some of my therapist friends use this book to teach their clients about the impact of thoughts on behavior and feelings and how thoughts can become distorted. Other therapists use this book to help families understand the principles of Natural Lifemanship, a trauma-focused equine assisted psychotherapy model.
I like to use “The Gift” for helping adults understand the importance of being compassionate while helping a child through a difficult situation. I think one of the most powerful relationships in the book is the relationship between Pip and her father. Though the father is a minor character, he is the glue that holds the story together. He is also the glue in Pip’s life. Without him she would not be able to navigate developing a friendship with Buck. I felt it was important to represent an attuned relationship between a father and a daughter because often in the media, it is the mother who is the most attuned and compassionate.
Lastly, this book can help children learn about perseverance and the importance of working for what you truly want. Friendships are a beautiful part of life. They also present many joys and challenges. It is difficult to learn how to develop a healthy friendship, to value another for who they are and not who we want them to be, and how to learn to work through problems. As Pip learns, friends are not ready-made and seeing someone for who they truly are is an amazing gift.
It’s clear that The Gift has a great deal of wonderfully beneficial qualities! I’d love to see it become a favorite among readers. Marketing becomes the key to achieving this. What are some of your methods for self-promotion and book marketing?
Being shy I struggle with self-promotion. It would be much easier for me if all I had to do was write the books and somehow they sold themselves. But promotion is important to do so I use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I developed a blog, had a book trailer made, and talk about my book at events when asked. I also write guest blogs for Natural Lifemanship.
Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?
No, I don’t think we do. I know I didn’t understand it. In August my book will have been out a year and I feel like over the last six months I have just begun to better understand the importance of marketing and how to do it. I think marketing is actually an art that develops with mentoring, time and experience. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort.
Working as a family therapist must be challenging at times. What kinds of things do you like to do to decompress?
I love to write; it’s a wonderful decompression technique. I love to ride my horse Cash and to spend time with him and my other horse Cloud. I like to take pictures and to paint. I love to listen to music and to garden. And I love to take long naps!
I’d love to see a series of Pip and Buck books. Is there any chance this will happen soon?
When I wrote “The Gift” I did not intend for it to be a series. But after completing “The Gift” Pip and Buck continued to stay with me. I am working on the second book now, “Pip and Buck: Saddle Up!” I am considering adding to this book the point of view of the father. This book focuses on the importance of relationships over tasks and things.
Where can readers connect with you?
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
The best advice I could give is to write often, write about things you are interested in, things that make you wonder, things that make you think, and things you dream of. Practice describing what you see, what you feel and what you think. Practice perspective taking, spend time observing people and things around you and allow yourself to just feel those things in the moment. Read as much as you can. Every moment in which you are truly present makes your life richer and in turn will make your writing richer too.
ABOUT REBECCA HUBBARD
Rebecca J. Hubbard is a master’s level Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and their families. She began writing short stories as a child for her own amusement and enjoyment. Rebecca discovered that she could facilitate the healing of her young clients by writing stories for them.
Currently, Rebecca works at Spirit Reins as a clinician and as the clinical supervisor where she practices Natural Lifemanship, ™ a Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ model.
Rebecca is a native Texan, who enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her two dogs, Idgie and Sully, and her two horses, Cash and Cloud. She also loves to read, paint and garden. Rebecca encourages readers to connect with her via her website and Amazon Author Page.
*Interview by Susan Barton, eBook Review Gal/My Book Tour
The Gift is currently a finalist in The People’s Book Prize Contest. You can submit your vote here.