Author Interview: Dandi Daley Mackall

Christian author Dandi Daley Mackall has generously taken the time out of her day to do this interview! Thank you very much, Mrs. Mackall!

When did you start writing?My first book came out right after I got out of college, but I’d written hundreds of things by then, starting back from when I could barely print. I wrote for magazines when I was in college. It’s been a long and mostly happy career, I’m grateful to say.

What was your first published book?
My first published book was called THE BLESSING IS IN THE DOING. It was nonfiction, humor and inspirational for adults. My first 7 books were like that. Then I moved to fiction and novels. And when I had kids, I discovered how much fun children’s books could be. Since then, I’ve written for every age group.
How often do you write?
When I’m home, not on a book gig or school visit, etc., I write every day except Sunday. Saturdays I sometimes go to family things, and life squeezes out writing when it needs to. But I love to write, and I know it’s my “job,” too. So I write a lot—a whole lot, in fact.

What is your favorite book out of the ones you've written?
This is the hardest question I get! So I’ll allow myself several answers, okay? I do love writing horse books—Winnie the Horse Gentler, Starlight Animal Rescue, and the new series, Backyard Horses. I love a book called LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA because it felt like God dropped that one into my head and I had to keep writing to find out what would happen. MY BOYFRIENDS’ DOGS was such fun to write—lots of me in there. In Oct. my first big mystery novel is coming out, THE SILENCE OF MURDER, and it really may be my favorite…except for the ones I’m working on right now….

Who is in your family?
My husband, Joe, is also a writer. He writes nonfiction for adults, and he’s awesome. Katy, our youngest, lives with us. She’s my first reader on all animal books and catches my mistakes if I get mixed up on which horses are male or female. We have a son, Dan, and a married daughter named Jen.
Do you have any pets?
Always! Cheyenne is our Paint, and I’ve written about a lot of horses we’ve had in the past. Moxie and Munch, our two dogs, make appearances in several books. And our never-ending supply of cats, birds, squirrels, etc. all helped when I wrote ONE-YEAR DEVOTIONALS FOR ANIMAL LOVERS.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I have so many that they change often. Right now, it’s Psalm 68:19:

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior!
      For each day he carries us in his arms.

Do you base your story characters off of real people, or make them up?
Yes! Both. They say every character—even the villains—must have a bit of the author in there, and that’s probably true of my characters. Some have pieces of me when I was the character’s age, and others are parts of me right now, going through the same struggles I am, only in a fictional setting.
If you could describe your writing as a kind of food, what would it be? 
Strawberry steak cheesecake. I know—it sounds awful together, but wouldn’t it be juicy, meaty, and fun?
Who is your inspiration?
I couldn’t write a word that mattered if I didn’t admit that and then ask God to give me thoughts and ideas and words that will make a difference.
When did you become a Christian? How has that impacted or changed your writing?
I didn’t come to Christ until I went to college. I was so grateful to discover grace and fresh starts, that I made one. Nothing has ever been the same, including my writing. I want everything I write to be excellent.
What is your newest book/series?
I have a bunch of new books coming out this year. Yea!
BACKYARD HORSES is my new horse series. Here’s something I put in the front of each book (HORSE DREAMS and COWBOY COLT are the first two titles):
Backyard horses are the opposite of show horses. They don’t have registration papers to prove they’re purebred, and they might never win a trophy or ribbon at a horse show. Backyard horses aren’t boarded in stables. You can find them in pastures or in backyards. They may be farm horses, fun horses, or simply friends. Backyard horses are often plain and ordinary on the outside . . . but frequently beautiful on the inside.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

THE SILENCE OF MURDER is a young adult mystery coming out in Oct. from Knopf/Random House.
DREAMS OF A DANCING HORSE is a middle-grade novel, Oct, Bloomsbury U.S.A.
LISTEN TO THE SILENT NIGHT is a Christmas picturebook from Dutton/Penguin
BOB THE HORSE – new I Can Read books
THAT’S NAT! chapter book series
THERE’S A BABY IN THERE, picturebook (funny!) from Cavendish

What advice would you give to girls who want to write but either can’t start a story, or can’t finish one? John 13.17 says, “Knowing these things, you are blessed if you do them.” “Do it!” is pretty good advice for all of us. Don’t worry about how good it is or if it will be published. Just do it. Then you can go back and rewrite until you’re proud of that story. Get the first draft, even if it’s lousy—mine always are! Then you can rewrite as long as you need to. And have fun!

Thank you so much for doing this interview for us, Mrs. Mackall!

My personal favorite books by Dandi Daley Mackall are these series: Blog On!, Winnie the Horse Gentler, and Starlight Animal Rescue. Click here to check out Dandi's website.

About Dandi (from
I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even before I could hold a pencil. My parents were great storytellers, so bringing characters to life seemed as natural as riding horses bareback, which I also grew up doing. I won my first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy. My 50 words on “Why I Want to Be Batboy for the Kansas City A’s” won first place, but the team wouldn’t let a girl be batboy. It was my first taste of rejection.
Since then, I’ve had over 400 of my titles published for children and about 25 for grown-ups, with millions of copies in over a dozen countries. I write for every age and in nearly every genre. I keep busy doing school visits, keynoting at conferences, and writing from rural Ohio, where I enjoy our family, including horses, dogs, cats, & a changing array of outdoor creatures.

Emii  – (June 16, 2011 at 2:55 PM)  

Wow, I've never read any of her books but I've seen the Blog On books around. Might just have to pick them up! This was a fabulous interview, Talia! I learnt a lot! Haha, I think there's something in all of us that wants to learn how to ride a horse, isn't there?

Talia  – (June 16, 2011 at 4:55 PM)  

LOL ☺ Thanks, Emii! I love the Blog On books (got them from grandparents for Christmas one year). So fun. I am reading some of them over (for more than the 2nd time) and still love 'em. Very fun:). Haha, I don't know about the riding horse thing! But I know I used to want to learn how to - especially after reading her horse books! LOL! LOL! LOL! :D Hehe <<sorry went a little crazy on the LOL's :). Reading her books makes you want to love horses (or LOVE them!). I think a while ago I actually attempted drawing a horse...any hoo :).

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